19 February 2009

True bilinguals

According to Christopher Thiery's widely-accepted definition, "a true bilingual is defined as one who in fact possesses two native languages and so is accepted as a native in each culture." Are second-language writers accepted as natives by the readers in their second language? I have in mind the objection of feminists to phrases such as "women poet" and "woman driver"; these phrases imply that poets and drivers are men unless otherwise specified to be women. Such phrases clearly show linguistic discrimination against women. When we say someone is a second-language writer (or an immigrant writer or a bilingual writer, or phrases of that sort), are we discriminating against those not to the language born? On the other hand, if we do not say that someone is writing in a language other than her or his mother tongue, do we not miss the opportunity to include the mother tongue in our literary analysis or even appreciation?

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