The Foreign in the Mother Tongue

Yeasemin Yildiz

in Beyond the Mother Tongue

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780823241309
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823241347 | DOI:
The Foreign in the Mother Tongue

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This chapter discusses words of foreign derivation (Fremdwörter) as constituting a form of “internal multilingualism,” which writers can potentially mobilize against the monolingual paradigm. It details the highly charged discourse on these words from the Early Modern period to the present, showing how the changing attributes of Fremdwörter and the general shape of language purism relate to particular political and cultural constellations. At the center of the chapter are Theodor W. Adorno's writings on Fremdwörter, from the early essay “On the Use of Foreign Derived Words,” and passages in Minima Moralia—where he calls them “the Jews of language”—to his 1959 essay “Words from Abroad.” The analysis charts the changes in Adorno's defense of these words and shows how he redefines his understanding of the (post-Holocaust) German language in the process, contrasting it with Martin Heidegger's. By investigating both Adorno's statements about Fremdwörter and his use of them in his writing, the chapter demonstrates how the interplay between “native” and “foreign-derived” words is part of his dialectical mode of writing.

Keywords: Fremdwort; Jews and Language; language purism; Martin Heidegger; Minima Moralia; monolingualism; multilingualism; post-Holocaust language; Theodor W. Adorno; foreign-derived words

Chapter.  14355 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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