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Beyond the Mother TongueThe Postmonolingual Condition$
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Yasemin Yildiz

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780823241309

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823241309.001.0001

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Detaching from the Mother Tongue

Detaching from the Mother Tongue

Bilingualism and Liberation in Yoko Tawada

(p.109) CHAPTER THREE Detaching from the Mother Tongue
Beyond the Mother Tongue

Yeasemin Yildiz

Fordham University Press

This chapter discusses the practice of writing and publishing texts in two different languages. It provides a historical sketch of the prevalence of this practice since the early modern period in Europe, with particular focus on the twentieth century, and argues that in the aftermath of the monolingual paradigm, such “bilingual writing” has predominantly arisen from conditions of displacement outside the nation. This tendency is exemplified by the chapter's main focus, Japanese-born, Germany-based author Yoko Tawada, who has been writing playful and experimental texts in Japanese and German since the 1980s. Elaborating on the significance of the monolingual paradigm for modern Japan, the chapter situates Tawada's writing in relationship to both the German and the Japanese contexts, as well as in relationship to her most famous twentieth-century predecessors in bilingual writing, Beckett and Nabokov. Ultimately, Tawada's bilingualism and transnationalism, it is argued, are not means of claiming double belonging, but of detachment directed against the force of inclusion into the monolingual paradigm and categories such as nation, gender, and race.

Keywords:   bilingualism, displacement, gender, Japan, Japanese, multilingualism, Samuel Beckett, transnationalism, Vladimir Nabokov, Yoko Tawada

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