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Le Droit à la Langue de l'Autre

Le Droit à la Langue de l'Autre

Rabourdin, Caroline ORCID: 0000-0002-9694-0384 (2019) Le Droit à la Langue de l'Autre. In: L'épreuve de l'étranger: Translation, Migration, Resistance - International Symposium in Phenomenology, 7 - 13 July 2019, Perugia, Italy. (Unpublished)

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In her essay titled ‘Thresholds: A Prosody of Citizenship’, Lisa Robertson posits language at the origin and as constitutive of all political subjects. The essay was originally published in Canada in 2012 as ‘Untitled Essay’ in Nilling, and its recent re-print in the UK by Book Woks and The Common Guild for the Dialecty series appears very timely indeed. In her essay Robertson talks of the vernacular as a shared language, learnt not from dictionaries and textbooks but from the subjects co-existence, she describes it as “something which loosely gathers whatever singular words and cadences move a given situation, a given meeting, as it is being lived by its speakers”, thus echoeing Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s work on language in La Prose du monde for instance. The vernacular, Robertson adds, may be characterized, by wit, excess, plasticity, … as well as polylinguality. Curiously Merleau-Ponty remains very evasive on the subject of multilingualism, with one remark in Phénoménologie de la perception explaining that one can only live in one language at a time because one cannot possibly inhabit two worlds simultaneously.

For this paper I propose a close reading and analysis of Robertson’s essay, through the lens of the bilingual subject, and in particular, of the bilingual subject whose rights as a citizen have been, or might be, withdrawn. This is the situation many Europeans citizen living in the UK are currently facing. This is also something that Jacques Derrida experienced for a duration of three years, when his French citizenship was revoked because of newly implemented administrative rules between France and Algeria. Derrida talks about this in Le Monolinguisme de l’autre, and writes ‘Je n’ai qu’une langue et ce n’est pas la mienne’.
What I would like to explore in this paper and I think is at stake here is not necessarily the tension which might exist between vernacular language and institutionalised language, or langue, but between vernacular political language and institutionalised political rights and the movements that might occur between the two.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: phenomenology, language, bilingualism, politics of language, Lisa Robertson, Ferdinand de Saussure, hospitality, Jacques Derrida
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Design (DES)
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2021 18:35

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