Bilingual writing

12 December 2008 at 5:06 PM | Posted in News | 3 Comments

Parallel to my interest is Bilingual Writing or Contrastive Rhetorics, as studied at the University of California at Irvine. Unlike linguists or language teachers, however, I am not really into just writing, but writing that is considered literature, at least in the pre-postmodern sense of being part of the tradition of literary writing (whatever that means). I know that, after Raymond Williams deconstructed the word literature, it has become fashionable, even ideological, not to evaluate writing and to just say that everything everybody writes is literature (or not), but there is clearly a sense we all share that some things are literary and some things are not. Not even Stanley Fish, who has since reversed some of his positions anyway, would have considered as literary during his angry young man days everything printed (though he became famous or infamous for saying that even newspaper items could be read as literature). What this blog wants to investigate, among numerous other things, is whether a writer, learning another language at a later stage of her/his life, can actually produce literature in that language. Could Shakespeare, for instance, have written what he wrote had he been born in France, speaking French?

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  1. Hello, Mr. Isagani R. Cruz,

    It’s an interesting question. Perhaps he would’ve written “Les Miserables Wives of Windsor” or “Cyrano de Venice.”

    But seriously, didn’t he crib a lot of stuff from other writers? I remember reading somewhere that the original “Romeo and Juliet” is by some Italian writer. So in a sense Shakespeare in this case was writing Italian!

    Also, didn’t Beckett originally write “Waiting for Godot” in French? Did he also write the English version, or is it a translation? If he did, it might be interesting to compare the two versions.

  2. Hello, Mr. Isagani R. Cruz,

    It’s an interesting question. Perhaps he would’ve written “Les Miserables Wives of Windsor” or “Cyrano de Venice.”

    But seriously, didn’t he crib a lot of stuff from other writers? I remember reading somewhere that the original “Romeo and Juliet” is by some Italian writer. So in a sense Shakespeare in this case was writing Italian!

    Also, didn’t Beckett originally write “Waiting for Godot” in French? Did he also write the English version, or is it a translation? If he did, it might be interesting to compare the two versions.

  3. Hello, Mr. Isagani R. Cruz,

    It’s an interesting question. Perhaps he would’ve written “Les Miserables Wives of Windsor” or “Cyrano de Venice.”

    But seriously, didn’t he crib a lot of stuff from other writers? I remember reading somewhere that the original “Romeo and Juliet” is by some Italian writer. So in a sense Shakespeare in this case was writing Italian!

    Also, didn’t Beckett originally write “Waiting for Godot” in French? Did he also write the English version, or is it a translation? If he did, it might be interesting to compare the two versions.


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