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Issue Details: First known date: 2016... 2016 “A Whole Alternative Universe” : Language and Space in David Malouf’s “The Only Speaker of His Tongue”
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'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)

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Last amended 5 Dec 2016 12:40:36 “A Whole Alternative Universe” : Language and Space in David Malouf’s “The Only Speaker of His Tongue”small AustLit logo Ilha Do Desterro : A Journal of English Language
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