The Politics of Minor Languages, Or: the Logic of Creation in the Age of Deterritorialization of Language

"Descartes, when writing on the method of philosophical thinking, writes in French, not in Latin, because the latter is the language of his teachers; Frantz Kafka, when composing his masterpieces, composes in the German language of Prague, not in his Czech vernacular, or his mother tongue Yiddish, or the mythical language of his ancestors Hebrew, even not in the invaders’ language German, because all these languages are impossibilities in writing at the time; Samuel Becket, when producing most of his plays and other writings, produces in English or French, not in Irish as he is Irishman. The situation that all these authors are in is one of bi- or multi-lingualism, in which a minor use of language is attempted politically or unpolitically to start a stutter, to invent a new place for movements in the 'cramped space' of the subaltern, and to create 'lines of flight' in the direction of deterritorialization of language. This is the very situation in which new englishes find themselves, and in which English not only witnesses the rise of its varieties or dialects, but also becomes localized or nativized by the vernacular. This minor use of language may result in both deterritorialization and reterritorialization of English as the major language at the same time which will usher in a new era not only of minor languages but also of minor literatures in new englishes."

by Chen Yongguo (Tsinghua University, P. R. China).

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