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Not crossing the boundary: the untranslatable in Japanese-English bilingual literature
Dalarna University, School of Humanities and Media Studies, Japanese.
2016 (English)In: Transcultural Identity Constructions in a Changing World / [ed] Irene Gibson Nordin, Chatarina Edfeldt, Lung-Lung Hu, Herbert Jonsson and André Leblanc, Peter Lang Publishing Group, 2016, 1, 219-234 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]


The act of choosing the language(s) in which one expresses oneself, or the decision to cross  boundaries between  languages, is closely related to  one’s identity. If this is considered in the context of Japanese literature, Japanese authors like Kyoko Mori and Yoko Tawada started writing in other languages in the 1990s. Around the same time, non-Japanese writers, such as Levy Hideo and Arthur Binard, started publishing works written in Japanese. While this crossing of the Japanese language boundary in both directions has been taking place, one could also find some authors who chose not to use one language, but decided to mix several. This is called bilingual literature, where the authors use more than one language within the same text, often without translation, such as in the case of Shishosetsu from left to right by Minae Mizumura (1995) or Chorus of Mushrooms (1994) by Hiromi Goto. Both these writers mix English and Japanese languages in the text, the former novel having been published in Japan and the latter in Canada.  This type of work is unique, since what is transmitted, which could be considered a gap between two languages or cultures, or the disturbing sense of not being able to understand the complete text, prevents translation, at least into the “second” language used in these novels. It might also suggest what these authors consider to be  untranslatable due to either linguistic or cultural distance or both.  In the current study, the language and cultural hybridity of the above-mentioned works of Mizumura and Goto will be analysed partly in relation to the concept of translatability in translation studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Peter Lang Publishing Group, 2016, 1. 219-234 p.
Keyword [en]
Bilingual Literature, Untranslatability, Japanese-English, Cultural Identity
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Intercultural Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-20926ISBN: 978-3-631-66061-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-20926DiVA: diva2:900269
Available from: 2016-02-03 Created: 2016-02-03 Last updated: 2016-08-31Bibliographically approved

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