The Only Speaker of his Tongue single work   short story  
  • Author: David Malouf http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/malouf-david
Issue Details: First known date: 1985-1986 1985-1986
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Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y Antipodes : Stories David Malouf , London : Chatto and Windus , 1985 Z428468 1985 selected work short story (taught in 1 units)

    'Antipodes - stories which pinpoint the contrast between the old world and the new, between youth and age, love and hatred and even life and death itself...'

    Source: Publisher's blurb.

    Ringwood : Penguin , 1986
    pg. 68-72
  • Appears in:
    y The Oxford Book of Australian Short Stories Michael Wilding (editor), South Melbourne : Oxford University Press , 1994 Z92140 1994 anthology short story criticism extract poetry crime humour South Melbourne : Oxford University Press , 1994 pg. 207-210
  • Appears in:
    y Australian Mosaic : An Anthology of Multicultural Writing Sonia Mycak (editor), Chris Baker (editor), Port Melbourne : Heinemann , 1997 Z822910 1997 anthology poetry drama prose extract Port Melbourne : Heinemann , 1997 pg. 58-61
  • Appears in:
    y The Complete Stories David Malouf , New York (City) : Pantheon Books , 2007 Z1422116 2007 selected work short story Sydney : Knopf , 2007 pg. 384-387
  • Appears in:
    y Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature Nicholas Jose (editor), Kerryn Goldsworthy (editor), Anita Heiss (editor), David McCooey (editor), Peter Minter (editor), Nicole Moore (editor), Elizabeth Webby (editor), Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2009 Z1590615 2009 anthology correspondence diary drama essay extract poetry prose short story (taught in 23 units)

    'Some of the best, most significant writing produced in Australia over more than two centuries is gathered in this landmark anthology. Covering all genres - from fiction, poetry and drama to diaries, letters, essays and speeches - the anthology maps the development of one of the great literatures in English in all its energy and variety.

    'The writing reflects the diverse experiences of Australians in their encounter with their extraordinary environment and with themselves. This is literature of struggle, conflict and creative survival. It is literature of lives lived at the extremes, of frontiers between cultures, of new dimensions of experience, where imagination expands.

    'This rich, informative and entertaining collection charts the formation of an Australian voice that draws inventively on Indigenous words, migrant speech and slang, with a cheeky, subversive humour always to the fore. For the first time, Aboriginal writings are interleaved with other English-language writings throughout - from Bennelong's 1796 letter to the contemporary flowering of Indigenous fiction and poetry - setting up an exchange that reveals Australian history in stark new ways.

    'From vivid settler accounts to haunting gothic tales, from raw protest to feisty urban satire and playful literary experiment, from passionate love poetry to moving memoir, the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature reflects the creative eloquence of a society.

    'Chosen by a team of expert editors, who have provided illuminating essays about their selections, and with more than 500 works from over 300 authors, it is an authoritative survey and a rich world of reading to be enjoyed.' (Publisher's blurb)

    Allen and Unwin have a YouTube channel with a number of useful videos on the Anthology.

    Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2009
    pg. 839-842
Alternative title: Der Einzige seiner Sprache
Language: German

Works about this Work

“A Whole Alternative Universe” : Language and Space in David Malouf’s “The Only Speaker of His Tongue” Deborah Scheidt , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Ilha Do Desterro : A Journal of English Language , vol. 69 no. 2 2016;
'By displacing Aboriginal communities, interfering with their migratorial routes and sacred sites and forcing them into sedentary practices, European colonialism disrupted the closely-knit links between people, space and language that had characterised life in Australia for 40,000 years prior to the arrival of the British. In linguistic terms that meant the disappearance of hundreds of languages, the devitalising of traditions that had been based mainly on orality and, ultimately, the silencing of thousands of voices. In the short story “The Only Speaker of His Tongue”, David Malouf imagines the encounter between a Nordic lexicographer and the last speaker of a certain Australian language. As the lexicographer reflects about the threat that the loss of a language poses to cultural diversity, he also exposes his particular views on the possibilities of language. The aim of this article is to demonstrate that although the encounter between the scholar and the Aborigine is fictitious and the story is extremely concise, it reaches much beyond its fictional status by, both directly and indirectly, raising issues related to the past and present treatment that Australia has dedicated to its Aboriginal peoples, to the complexities of the field of salvage linguistics and to the functions of language itself.' (Publication abstract)
The Only Speaker : David Malouf and Endangered Languages and Id-Entities Antonella Riem Natale , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Partnership Id-Entities : Cultural and Literary Re-Insciption/s of the Feminine 2010; (p. 20-29)
'Yearning of Grandsons for a Language the Dead Still Speak' : Exile and the Loss of Language in David Malouf's Work Samar Attar , 1994 single work criticism
— Appears in: Provisional Maps : Critical Essays on David Malouf 1994; (p. 51-69)
Body Talk : The Prose of David Malouf Nicholas Mansfield , 1989 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , June vol. 49 no. 2 1989; (p. 230-238)
'History Is Not What Happened But What Is Told.' An Interview with David Malouf Samar Attar (interviewer), 1989 single work biography interview
— Appears in: Outrider : A Journal of Multicultural Literature in Australia , June vol. 6 no. 1 1989; (p. 89-110)
The Only Speaker : David Malouf and Endangered Languages and Id-Entities Antonella Riem Natale , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Partnership Id-Entities : Cultural and Literary Re-Insciption/s of the Feminine 2010; (p. 20-29)
'Yearning of Grandsons for a Language the Dead Still Speak' : Exile and the Loss of Language in David Malouf's Work Samar Attar , 1994 single work criticism
— Appears in: Provisional Maps : Critical Essays on David Malouf 1994; (p. 51-69)
Body Talk : The Prose of David Malouf Nicholas Mansfield , 1989 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , June vol. 49 no. 2 1989; (p. 230-238)
'History Is Not What Happened But What Is Told.' An Interview with David Malouf Samar Attar (interviewer), 1989 single work biography interview
— Appears in: Outrider : A Journal of Multicultural Literature in Australia , June vol. 6 no. 1 1989; (p. 89-110)
“A Whole Alternative Universe” : Language and Space in David Malouf’s “The Only Speaker of His Tongue” Deborah Scheidt , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Ilha Do Desterro : A Journal of English Language , vol. 69 no. 2 2016;
'By displacing Aboriginal communities, interfering with their migratorial routes and sacred sites and forcing them into sedentary practices, European colonialism disrupted the closely-knit links between people, space and language that had characterised life in Australia for 40,000 years prior to the arrival of the British. In linguistic terms that meant the disappearance of hundreds of languages, the devitalising of traditions that had been based mainly on orality and, ultimately, the silencing of thousands of voices. In the short story “The Only Speaker of His Tongue”, David Malouf imagines the encounter between a Nordic lexicographer and the last speaker of a certain Australian language. As the lexicographer reflects about the threat that the loss of a language poses to cultural diversity, he also exposes his particular views on the possibilities of language. The aim of this article is to demonstrate that although the encounter between the scholar and the Aborigine is fictitious and the story is extremely concise, it reaches much beyond its fictional status by, both directly and indirectly, raising issues related to the past and present treatment that Australia has dedicated to its Aboriginal peoples, to the complexities of the field of salvage linguistics and to the functions of language itself.' (Publication abstract)
Last amended 29 Sep 2009 09:55:56
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