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Språk som kannibalism. Språk som översättning
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
2014 (Swedish)In: Guld i strupen?: Rötter och relationer till svenska språket / [ed] Frans-Michael Kirsch, Per-Åke Lindblom och Arne Rubensson, Stockholm: Språkförsvaret , 2014Chapter in book (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Språkförsvaret , 2014.
Keyword [en]
cannibalism as language, language as translation, biography as language, Finland-Swedish, meänkieli
National Category
Research subject
History Of Sciences and Ideas; Social and Economic Geography; Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-93605ISBN: 9789163766480OAI: diva2:750294

Cannibalism and translation, the two concepts that act as theoretical stanchions of this chapter essay, refer to the cultural or national condition where a majority language in pursuance of centric dominance undermines the minority and where translation in its meaning of egalitarian transferring contests the absorption or the total annihilation that may follow. I use my first language acquisition as a biological trek to discuss variances of these two antagonistic activities in motion. At a very early age, around six or seven, I understood the power structure of language differentiation when I was to be mobbed by my school mates for mispronouncing the local dialect word for the 'egg,' using my migrant mother's argot. She had moved from the neighboring village marrying my father. Ten years later, this kid stuff but painful experience transformed into an issue of othering that I could barely handle intellectually. It was when the school faculty decided to ban – demonstratively for a week – our dialects in preference for the standardized Swedish, as they felt that we otherwise never would learn the 'pure' Finland-Swedish. But we, mostly peasant sons and daughters coming out of the villages, liked our tongues. I remember my anger at the time and discovered opposition as a medium or rather, as I see it today, the creative energies that otherness can develop at its best. Some ten years later, now teaching English and French, at the Haparanda gymnasium (a small frontier city), these insights conditioned by my bilingual (or was it tri-lingual?) background were to open up for me and my students, as it had done for numerous Tornedalen activists, teachers, and scholars already, the rightfulness of the river valley people to not only speak their kind of Finnish but to engage in a 'postcolonial' struggle for the authorization of 'meänkieli' as one of the five Swedish national minority languages. In the latter part of the essay I discuss how this biographical avenue lead me into African studies and translation studies, and recently into debates in Finnish media about cannibalism, of how the Swedish-speaking domains in Finland are withering and the country losing part of its anima.  

Available from: 2014-09-28 Created: 2014-09-28 Last updated: 2015-05-12Bibliographically approved

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