Monday, November 7, 2016

the problem of the "monolingual norm"

While I don't feel like there was a real connection between the two articles, I did enjoy Matsuda's article of "Teaching Composition in the Multilingual World." Just to start off with, individuals who can write in another language are truly amazing, as that unnatural skill, especially trying to sound fluent in another language, is completely challenging. For me, I struggle with just writing a sentence in Japanese, because I want to think about all of the rules of grammar, semantics, colloquialisms, and generally if it sounds natural and not "out of context." Thus, for someone who identifies as a multilingual writer, their mind has to continue to more consciously think of all of those rules and challenges, as opposed to just letting it come naturally to them - in all honesty, it does not come natural for a lot of native speakers, too, because writing comes as a difficult task for a good deal of people, regardless of their language.

Additionally, I found the part in Matsuda's article about English as the "monolingual norm" to be very important (49). In particular, I think Matsuda touches on the fact that, if someone holds English as a "superior" language and disregards / dismisses the possibility or presence of other languages in the field of writing, it creates a problem that is much related to the idea of privilege. Because of this privilege, it also can tie into an issue of the loss of voice, in that something can be culturally lost when translated, as opposed to being read in the mother tongue. For example, a piece of Japanese poetry has a meaning entirely in its linguistic context; however, by following this idea of a "monolingual norm" and "making" it English (as opposed to trying to read it in Japanese), the poem loses meaning. Ultimately, multilingual writers definitely have overcome so many obstacles in writing, and as Matsuda mentions, they are not as recognized; additionally, this lack of recognition and forcing them to conform to the "superiority" of the English language also poses a larger cultural and societal problem, which truly shapes the identity of these writers.

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