Language

Style of writing

The language used in the short story “My Mother, the Crazy African” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie mainly illustrates the clash between the American and the African culture. 

Lin’s way of speaking, for example, shows that she rejects her heritage. She speaks in an informal tone of voice and she often introduces rude comments, like “please” (p. 3, l. 9) and “so what?” (p. 1, ll. 13-14) to express her disdain for the Nigerian traditions: “Americans don't care about that nonsense of being from your ancestral village, where your forefathers owned land, where you can trace your lineage back hundreds of years. So you trace your lineage back, so what?” (p. 1, ll. 12-14). Here, Lin’s language is provocative and illustrative of her rebellious attitude.

Lin’s informal tone contrasts with the Igbo language, which is formal and traditional. For example, Lin is surprised to see that Cathy changes her way of speaking as a form of respect for Lin’s mother: “Now Cathy doesn't say Hi to Mother, she says Good Afternoon or Good Morning because Mother told her that is how Nigerian children greet adults. Also, she doesn't call Mother Mrs. Eze, she calls her Aunty” (p. 3, ll. 29-31). Unlike Lin, who is impolite and speaks English instead of Igbo to the family’s Nigerian guests, Cathy understands that using Igbo is a form of respect and is “fascinated” (p. 2, l. 39) by the Nigerian culture. 

The author’s choice of words gives the story an authentic feel. Words like “ede” (p. 2, l. 23), “ugu” (p. 2, l. 23), “onugbu” (p. 4, l. 4), “moi-moi” (p. 2, l. 7), “chin-chin” (p. 2, l. 7), and “fufu” (p...

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