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Dormant Bilingualism in Neoliberal America

Dormant Bilingualism in Neoliberal America

Chapter:
(p.122) Chapter Four. Dormant Bilingualism in Neoliberal America
Source:
Bilingual Brokers
Author(s):
Jeehyun Lim
Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823275304.003.0005

Chapter four examines the relationship between language and race in neoliberal America through the writings of Richard Rodriguez and Chang-rae Lee and the legal briefs contesting English-only policies. As literary accounts of post-civil rights assimilation, Richard Rodriguez’s memoirs and Chang-rae Lee’s novel, Native Speaker, reflect the social concerns on civic disunity that provoked English-only policies and induced a social climate of language covering. This chapter shows the rhetorical figure of analogy in both the legal briefs contesting English-only rules, where bilingual plaintiffs claim an analogy between language and race to seek legal protection, and in Rodriguez’s and Lee’s representations of dormant bilingualism. While the analogy between language and race mostly fails in the courtrooms, it is a productive rhetorical move for Rodriguez and Lee as they show that language is prone to be influenced by the same capitalist logic that commodifies race.

Keywords:   dormant bilingualism, language covering, Chang-rae Lee, neoliberalism, Richard Rodriguez

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