Assia Djebar

30 August 2009 at 3:21 AM | Posted in News | Leave a comment

For insights on Assia Djebar, look into Anne Donadey’s World Literature Today essay: “The second half of the essay explores Djebar’s own practice of multilingual writing in the three published novels of her Algerian Quartet. Djebar is one of the foremost Maghrebian writers, and her work on language is truly remarkable. I analyze her use of Arabic words in her texts in French to argue that she creates a multilingual palimpsest which both reflects the process of violent French colonization of Algeria and subverts it linguistically by ‘arabiciz[ing] French.’”

Donadey’s “arabicizing French” is like Gemino Abad’s observation that Filipino writers have “colonized English.” The often asked question of whether English should be considered an Asian language has been answered decisively in conferences and books: yes, English is not just the “language of yesterday’s enemy” nor is it only the current international language, but it is an Asian, specifically a Filipino language. The Maghrebians have colonized French, just as Filipinos have colonized English. And as wikcrit shows, it is not just a matter of inserting Arabic or Tagalog words in a French or English text, but the French and the English itself being qualitatively different from the French and the English of “yesterday’s enemies.”

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