Language and Literature
About his memoir Out of Place, Edward Said thus explains his linguistic heritage: “I was always between languages. I have Arabic, English, French, and I can speak and certainly read Italian, German, and Spanish. I have never known which is my first language, whether it is Arabic or English. It is strange, and I do not feel completely at home in either.” Vladimir Nabokov writes thus about his memoir Speak, Memory: “This re-Englishing of a Russian re-version of what had been an English re-telling of Russian memories in the first place, proved to be a diabolical task.” Many literary theorists and writers have critically reflected on their linguistic experiences—living and writing between and among languages—in their life narratives: Jacques Derrida’s Monolingualism of the Other; or, the Prosthesis of Origin on his relationship with the French language as an Algerian Jew; Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation; A Life in a New Language on living between Polish and English; Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words on the choice to write in Italian, a third language; and Rey Chow’s Not like a Native Speaker: On Languaging as a Postcolonial Experience. Focusing on Chow’s book on her experience growing up in Hong Kong, negotiating between Cantonese, Mandarin, and English, this paper proposes to explore the relationship between autobiography and a theory of multilingualism and what constitutes an auto-linguistic theory that Chow conceptualizes as “languaging as a type of prostheticization” that addresses questions of aphasia and disfigurement, accents and intonations, translation and linguistic nativism.