Cultural mediation through translingual narrative
Translingual writers, in attempting to navigate between languages and the associated social contexts, bring both linguistic and cultural translation into play as processes fostering encounter and transformation. This paper considers the thematic function of translation within recent translingual narrative, where it appears both as a literary topos and as an ideological subtext. It attempts to illustrate how, contrary to postcolonial writers whose narratives self-consciously engage with their own linguistic or cultural hybridity by thematizing the power relationships between different linguistic strands, the narratives of transnational/ translingual writers explore new identities by constructing new dialogic spaces in which language choice is located outside the oppositional model set up by the traditional binaries of postcolonial theorizing. Through a reading of the work of Amara Lakhous, a contemporary Italian writer, born and educated in Algiers and writing in both Arabic and Italian, it is argued that translingual works suggest an understanding of translation as not only something that happens after the story ends, but is a crucial part of the narrative itself; one that generates plot and meaning, and is indispensable to an understanding of the concrete processes of cultural translation that shape relationships, identities, and interactions globally.
Published online: 22 December 2011
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