Alberti Memmi - Some Extracts

See also extensive extracts from The Coloniser and the Colonised, in RICORSO Classrooms, Postcolonial Fiction, infra.

‘Likewise the colonised no longer knew his language except in the form of a lowly dialect. In order to emerge from the most elementary monotony and emotions, he had to borrow the coloniser’s language. In recovering his autonomous and separate destiny, he immediately goes back to his own tongue. It is pointed out to him that its vocabulary is limited, its syntax bastardised. It would be comical to hear a course in higher mathematics or philosophy in it. Even the left-wing coloniser is surprised by this unnecessary challenge which is more costly in the long run to the coloniser than to the colonised. Why not go on using Western languages to describe motors or teach abstract subjects?’ (Coloniser and Colonised, NY 1965, p.134; quoted in Gearóid Denvir, ‘Decolonizing the Mind: Language and Literature in Ireland', in New Hibernia Review, 1, 1 (Spring 1997), pp.44-68.)

‘[T]he most urgent claim of a group about to revive is certainly the liberation and restoration of its language. Indeed, if I express wonder, it is that anyone wonders. / Only that language would allow the colonised to resume contact with his interrupted flow of time and to find again his lost continuity and that of his history … The colonised writer, having succeeded after much effort in being able to use European languages - those of the coloniser, let us not forget - can use them only to clamor for his own. That is not a question of incoherence or blind resentment, but a necessity.’ (ibid., p.134; Denvir, idem.)


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