War in Several Tongues

Wai Chee Dimock

in Globalizing American Studies

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780226185064
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226185088 | DOI:
War in Several Tongues

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Disciplinary sovereignty and territorial sovereignty go hand in hand. The English language is actually more supple, more open to new input, and therefore more rich and various, than one usually gives it credit for. Its experiment with other languages—quoting, translating, and playing with various accented foreign words—suggests that what one is dealing with is not a flat landscape but a layered formation, with two or more languages stacked on top of one another. Multilingualism flourishes even on a monolingual platform. Nations are fabricated things, with an identity all too prominent but no less spurious. Science fiction, of course, has always been a multigeneric, and indeed multimedia, phenomenon. It is literally an alienation of affection, turning patriotism into a face strange and scary. Science fiction, a genre traditionally inhabited by aliens, is no doubt a logical place for this alienation to happen. It achieves this effect by resurrecting a genre that one may not expect it to—a poetic genre, more ancient, more honored, but also antinaturalistic and without apology, because for it, this is simply a matter of convention.

Keywords: languages; multigeneric; science fiction; multilingualism; monolingual platform

Chapter.  6368 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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