01 July 2009

Growing interest in second-language literature

Giulio C. Lepschy, in the book I cited yesterday, says, "In recent years people have looked with growing interest at writers who use in their works ‘another’ language, different from their mother tongue."

One of the best bodies of work to study as far as non-mother tongue literature is concerned is Philippine literature in English. English is not the mother tongue of any of the writers in the Philippines, including those that have gained international recognition or emigrated to other countries. Despite having more than a hundred natural languages and over a dozen living literary vernacular languages, the Philippines has produced quite a number of novels, poems, and plays in the language of one of its former colonizers (the United States of America). The variety of English known as Philippine English has even received quite a bit of attention from linguists around the world. Yet there is little literary criticism done on Philippine texts written in English that takes into account the relationship of English to the mother tongue. This is a field wide open for students looking for graduate theses or even for young PhDs looking for a niche in the academic marketplace.

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