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AMY TAN Mother Tongue lAM NOT A SCHOLAR of English or literature. I cannot give you much more than personal opinions on the English language and its variations in this country or others. I am a writer. And by that definition, I am someone who has always loved language. I am fascinated by lan-guage in daily life. I spend a great deal of my time think-ing about the power of language-the way it can evoke an emotion, a visual image. a complex idea, or a simple truth. Language is the tool of my trade. And I use them all -all the Englishes I grew up with. Recently. I was made keenly aware of the different Englishes I do use. I was giving a talk to a large group of people, the same talk I had already given to half a dozen other groups. The nature of the talk was about my writ-ing. my life, and my book, The Joy Luck Club. The talk was going along well enough, until I remembered one major difference that made the whole talk sound wrong. My mother was in the room. And it was perhaps the first time she had heard me give a lengthy speech-using the kind of English I have never used with her. I was saying things like, "The intersection of memory upon imagination" and "There is an aspect of my fiction that relates to thus-and-thus" -a speech filled with carefully wrought gram-matical phrases, burdened, it suddenly seemed to me, with nominalized forms, past perfect tenses, conditional phrases-all the forms of standard English that I had learned in school and through books. the forms of English I did not use at home with my mother. Just last week, I was walking down the street with my mother. and I again found myself conscious of the English I was using. the English I do use with her. We were talk-ing about the price of new and used furniture and I heard myself saying this: "Not waste money that way." My hus-band was with us as well, and he didn't notice any switch in my English. And then I realized why. It's because over Amy Tan is best known for her novels The Joy Luck Club (1989), The Kitchen God's Wife (1991), and The Bonesetter's Daughter (2001). She often writes of the relationships be-tween Chinese American daughters and their mothers, and her work is praised for its realistic and sensitive render-ing of dialogue.