Writing in the Language of the Other
This paper is based on the linguistic and cultural experiences described in the opening section by three francophone writers: Kourouma (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) Dracius (Martinique), and Ancelet (Louisiana, United States). Against this background, a reading of Derrida's "Le Monolinguisme de l'Autre" enables us to open a discussion on the impossibility of absolute monolingualism demanded by "linguistic imperialism". It also enables us to underscore the multiplicity inherent in any language, and the violence of a language which claims to be unique, while serving some ideology or power. In the last section, I address the double interdict to which Derrida believes education must respond, and the double entitlement for which it is responsible.
Whereas the United States, holding on to a monolingual view of the world and a subtractive view of bilingualism, advocate a monolinguistic educational policy, many countries have experienced and recognized the value of plurality and plural education. They have realized that variety does not threaten a language but enriches it, and it is entirely possible to teach one's own language, history, literature and culture, plus those of neighboring nations. Several countries in Europe manage this quite well.
(Testimonies taped during a presentation at the annual conference of the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 1997)
Keywords: monolinguism, multilinguism, linguistic imperialism, plural education, multiciltural education
Prof. Denise Egéa-Kuehne
Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction