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Word Count: 2,564
I am 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 language in daily life I spend a great deal of my time thinking 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 writing 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 grammatical 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 talking about the price of new and
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