Beyond the Mother Tongue: The Postmonolingual Condition

Beyond the Mother Tongue: The Postmonolingual Condition

Yasemin Yildiz
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 306
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  • Book Info
    Beyond the Mother Tongue: The Postmonolingual Condition
    Book Description:

    bWinner of the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Studies in Germanic Languages and Literaturesr bHonorable Mention for The 2014 Laura Shannon Prize in Contemporary European Studiesr Beyond the Mother Tongue examines distinct forms of multilingualism, such as writing in one socially unsanctioned "mother tongue" about another language (Franz Kafka); mobilizing words of foreign derivation as part of a multilingual constellation within one language (Theodor W. Adorno); producing an oeuvre in two separate languages simultaneously (Yoko Tawada); and mixing different languages, codes, and registers within one text (Feridun Zaimoglu).

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4930-5
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Beyond the Mother Tongue? Multilingual Practices and the Monolingual Paradigm
    (pp. 1-29)

    On September 29, 2002, the Sunday issue of theNew York Timesincluded a sixty-eight-page paid insert previewing a conceptual artwork calledWordsearch: A Translinguistic Sculptureconceived by German artist Karin Sander and sponsored by the Deutsche Bank, the world’s biggest corporate art collector.¹ In response to the sponsor’s request to offer a global perspective in a metropolitan location, Sander’s project set out to document as many of the languages spoken in New York City as possible. It did so by finding one native speaker for each of 250 languages and asking each speaker to contribute one personally meaningful...

  5. CHAPTER ONE The Uncanny Mother Tongue: Monolingualism and Jewishness in Franz Kafka
    (pp. 30-66)

    With the current revalorization of multilingualism, the Austro-Hungarian empire has gained importance as a reference point.¹ In contrast to the GermanKaiserreich, which was conceived as a monolingual nation-state, the Habsburg empire acknowledged its broad multilingual makeup in its political structure. Yet the multilingualism of the empire does not offer a positive model to be emulated in the present. In fact it cautions us against facile celebration of what appears to be a state of multilingualism without closer scrutiny of its configuration of—and its underlying premises regarding—language, culture, and ethnicity. For the multilingualism of the empire increasingly shifted...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Foreign in the Mother Tongue: Words of Foreign Derivation and Utopia in Theodor W. Adorno
    (pp. 67-108)

    For the monolingual paradigm, the mother tongue is the site of nativity and pure origin. But what if this mother tongue itself is not really monolingual, homogenous, and fully familiar? After all, all languages are sites of constant traffic, of a constant transformative give-and-take between and within them. Yet when the strict separation of languages is central for maintaining the distinctness of other associated categories such as nations and cultures, this view of the mother tongue as internally multilingual can appear threatening.¹ Words of foreign derivation put this separateness into question more pointedly than any other linguistic phenomenon. They open...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Detaching from the Mother Tongue: Bilingualism and Liberation in Yoko Tawada
    (pp. 109-142)

    What form do confrontations with the monolingual paradigm take in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century under conditions of globalization? The heightened, accelerated interaction between different parts of the world due to new information, transportation, and financial technologies that goes by the name of “globalization” produces a new framework in the latter half of the twentieth century in which languages circulate, change, and accrue meaning. If one may supplement Arjun Appadurai’s model of disjunctive “flows” (of people, goods, ideas etc.) that constitute the new “scapes” of globalization, one could speak of languages and shifting linguistic practices as comprising part...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Surviving the Mother Tongue: Literal Translation and Trauma in Emine Sevgi Özdamar
    (pp. 143-168)

    In 1990, Turkish-German writer Emine Sevgi Özdamar published her first book,Mutterzunge. To a German-language reader encountering it for the first time, this title word is at once familiar and unfamiliar. Both parts,Mutter(mother) andZunge(tongue), are clearly German, as is the principle of linking two nouns to create a new word. Yet this neologism departs from the idiomatic expressionMuttersprache(mother tongue, literally “mother language”) and thus inscribes difference into the word. As the title story of the same name instantly signals, Özdamar’sMutterzungeis to be read as a literal translation from another language, where, like...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Inventing a Motherless Tongue: Mixed Language and Masculinity in Feridun Zaimoğlu
    (pp. 169-202)

    What happens to the linkage between language and ethnicity in the postmonolingual condition—that is, in a situation of the reemergence of multilingualism against the backdrop of the mono-lingual paradigm? The changed linguascapes of globalization in particular bring this question to the fore, as people and languages circulate along new paths and commingle in novel ways. Migrations produce multilingual communities and practices, but just as importantly, they quickly begin to produce speakers of languages that are not supposed to be “their own” by right of inheritance. Suddenly there are “Turks of German language,” as one German publication from 1984 declares.¹...

  10. CONCLUSION: Toward a Multilingual Paradigm? The Disaggregated Mother Tongue
    (pp. 203-212)

    What is the relationship between language and identity today? According to the monolingual paradigm, there is one privileged language, the mother tongue. This language is special because one is born into it, one acquires it with the “mother’s milk” (H. Weinrich, “Chamisso”) or at least at the “mother’s knee” (B. Anderson,Imagined Communities). The individual is connected to it through family and kinship ties and experiences childhood through it. The sounds of this language can stir something deep down inside a person; this is the language of primary attachments, the language in which one first says and becomes “I.” It...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 213-258)
    (pp. 259-284)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 285-292)