Detaching from 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:
Detaching from the Mother Tongue

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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

Chapter.  11197 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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