Download Bilingual Games: Some Literary Investigations by D. Sommer PDF

By D. Sommer

Those essays convey domestic the main tough observations of postmodernism—multiple identities, the fragility of which means, the hazards of verbal exchange. Sommer asserts that many of us typically live—that is, imagine, consider, create, cause, convince, laugh—in a couple of language. She claims that conventional scholarship (aesthetics; language and philosophy; psychoanalysis, and politics) can't see or listen multiple language at a time. The objective of those essays is to create a brand new box: bilingual arts & aesthetics which study the cultured product produced by means of bilingual diasporic groups. the focal point of this quantity is the Americas, yet examples and theoretical proposals come from Europe in addition. In either parts, the difficulty bargains one other point of complexity to the migrant and cosmopolitan personality of neighborhood societies in a world economic system.

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Obviously, all this is radically false; never in Spanish history was it true, no matter how you look at it. Spain has always been diverse and multilingual, probably even since Atapuerca’s homo antecessor of eight hundred thousand years ago. When Spain was officially established as a politically unitary state in the late fifteenth century, no language disappeared,9 and it was only with Felipe V’s French-style radical centralism that measures were taken against the non-Castilian vernaculars (religion had come first, hand in hand with the new political centralism of Ferdinand and Isabella in the late fifteenth century).

Assuming they were the only people in the world, it is not surprising they should also have assumed that the language they spoke was the only one in the world. But of course their assumption of uniqueness was based only on their isolation, not on the teeming diversity of a world outside the experience or dreams of such groups. It may have been only a delusion, but the sense they were speaking the only language in existence nevertheless had, for such societies, an effect on how they conceived language itself: In the great majority of previously “undiscovered” tribes, most speakers assume an intimacy between words and things that is denied to citizens of cultures in which other languages are known to exist.

Universal Grammar provides the glue that holds all languages together (there is no language that cannot be translated into any other language). As such, it is a hopeful sign of our commonality. The ultimate irony is that at the same time, Universal Grammar is the certain guarantor of ineluctable variety. Difference is what we have in common. In meditating bilingualism we are very close to the condition in Language that Tolstoy perceived in the center of human existence. As he wrote in the second epilogue to War and Peace, “The problem is that regarding man as a subject of observation from whatever point of view—theological, historical, ethical, or philosophic—we find a general law of necessity to which he (like all that exists) is subject.

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