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Imprisoned in EnglishThe Hazards of English as a Default Language$
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Anna Wierzbicka

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199321490

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199321490.001.0001

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Bilingualism, Life Writing, Translation

Bilingualism, Life Writing, Translation

(p.233) 18 Bilingualism, Life Writing, Translation
Imprisoned in English

Anna Wierzbicka

Oxford University Press

This chapter includes a view from bilingualism put forward by psycholinguist Aneta Pavlenko; a view from life writing, presented by Eva Hoffman, the author of the groundbreaking cross-linguistic autobiography Lost in Translation: A life in a new language; and a view from translation, given by J. M. Coetzee, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. Pavlenko’s special focus is on thinking and speaking in two (or more) different languages, as evidenced by bilingual speakers’ view and perceptions on how they think and feel. The chapter discusses Eva Hoffman’s classic memoir, which shows compellingly how language-bound a person’s life normally is, while highlighting the possibility of translingual thought. The last section presents J. M. Coetzee’s reflections on the possibility of thought outside particular languages. All these views are deeply consonant with NSM research and with the central theme of Imprisoned in English.

Keywords:   bilingualism, linguistic relativity, “Sapir-Whorf hypothesis”, life writing, translating oneself, translingual thought, “mother tongue”

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