Bilingual Games: Some Literary Investigations by D. Sommer

By D. Sommer

These essays carry domestic the main demanding observations of postmodernism-multiple identities, the fragility of that means, the hazards of communique. Sommer asserts that many folks often live-that is, imagine, suppose, create, cause, convince, laugh-in multiple language. She claims that conventional scholarship (aesthetics; language and philosophy; psychoanalysis, and politics) can't see or pay attention a couple of language at a time. The objective of those essays is to create a brand new box: bilingual arts & aesthetics which study the classy product produced via bilingual diasporic groups. the point of interest of this quantity is the Americas, yet examples and theoretical proposals come from Europe to boot. In either parts, the problem deals one other point of complexity to the migrant and cosmopolitan personality of neighborhood societies in a world economy.

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But opposition to monolingualism is theoretically insufficient if it simply does a flip-flop and invokes the principle of difference alone, as its battle cry. As those who speculate on language know, as Serge Karcevskij writes, “opposition pure and simple necessarily leads to chaos and cannot serve as the basis of a system. True differentiation presupposes a simultaneous resemblance and difference” (51). In other words, as students of language, we have available to us debating resources that inhere in the nature of our subject itself, for “[i]n a complete sign (a word as opposed to morpheme) there are two centers of semiotic functions, one for the formal values, the other for semantic values.

Marías’s metaphor is from the 1960’s, but similar ideas have been expressed much later, even by such a well-informed linguist as Gregorio Salvador. For him, languages are essentially unequal: “El igualitarismo es doctrina aplicable a los hombres, pero no en absoluto a los idiomas. Los idiomas son objetos esencialmente desiguales, son instrumentos de utilidad mensurable y a sus colisiones no se les deben aplicar jamás los mismos criterios que sirven para resolver los conflictos entre personas (G.

At the highest level of abstraction, these shaping drives might most economically be characterized as those centrifugal forces that focus and bind meaning together with maximum lucidity on the one side, and on the other, centripetal forces that expand the possibility of meaning by prying apart existing nodes of significance to reveal previously unsuspected aspects in them. These two powers have been called by many different names. I choose centripetal and centrifugal as they have come to me in my work on Bakhtin, but Bakhtin is, of course, drawing on the great Humboldtian insight that language is energy, an event (energija) rather than something finished, a made thing (ergon).

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