By Jacques Derrida
“I have yet one language―yet that language isn't really mine.” This e-book intertwines theoretical mirrored image with old and cultural particularity to enunciate, then study this conundrum by way of the author’s personal courting to the French language. The booklet operates on 3 degrees. on the first point, a theoretical inquiry investigates the relation among participants and their “own” language. It additionally explores the structural limits, wishes, and interdictions inherent in such “possession,” in addition to the corporeal point of language (its accents, tones, and rhythms) and the query of the “countability” of languages (that is, their discreteness or real givenness). on the moment point, the writer testifies to elements of his acculturation as an Algerian Jew with admire to language acquisition, education, citizenship, and the dynamics of cultural-political exclusion and inclusion. on the 3rd point, the e-book is comparative, drawing on statements from a variety of figures, from the Moroccan Abdelkebir Khatibi to Franz Rosenzweig, Gershom Scholem, Hannah Arendt, and Emmanuel Levinas. on the grounds that one of many book’s imperative topics is the query of linguistic and cultural identification, its argument touches on a number of matters proper to the present debates on multiculturalism. those matters comprise the implementation of colonialism within the faculties, the tacit or particular censorship that excludes different (indigenous) languages from critical severe attention, the funding in an incredible of linguistic purity, and the problematics of translation. the writer additionally unearths the complicated interaction of mental components that invests the topic of identification with the need to get better a “lost” language of foundation and with the ambition to grasp the language of the colonizer.
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Extra resources for Monolingualism of the Other: or, The Prosthesis of Origin (Cultural Memory in the Present)
But let that be. I shall content myself with a few allusions to literature. It is the first thing I received from French education in Algeria, the only thing, in any event, that I enjoyed receiving. The discovery of French lit erature, the access to this so unique mode of writing that is called "French-literature" was the experience of a world without any tangible continuity with the one in which we lived, with almost nothing in common with our natural or social landscapes. But this discontinuity was forging another one.
I am not in a position, fairly and spontaneously, to put this last hypothesis to the test : be cause I carry the negative heritage, if I may say so, of this amnesia, which I never had the courage, the strength, and the means to re sist, and because an original historian's work would be necessary, of which I have felt myself incapable. Maybe for that very reason. 54 Monolingualism ofthe Other This incapacity, this handicapped memory, is the subject of my lament here. That is my grievance. For as I thought I per ceived it during my adolescent years, when I was beginning to understand a little what was happening, this heritage was already ossified, even necrotized, into ritual comportment, whose mean ing was no longer legible even to the majority of the Jews of Algeria.
And precisely not identity. No, an identity is never given, received, or attained; only the interminable and in definitely phantasmatic process of identification endures. What ever the story of a return to oneself or to one's home [chez-soi] , into the "hut" ["case"] of one's home (chez is the casa) , no matter what an odyssey or bildungsroman it might be, in whatever manner one invents the story of a construction of the self, the autos, or the ipse, it is always imagined that the one who writes should know how to say 1.