The need for postcolonial writers to use a different linguistic medium.

The domination of English, both as a race as well as a language has its roots deep into the bloody waters of history; colonization. The hegemonic superpowers that came through the 20th century, which continue in the second decade of the 21st, facilitated more of the latter than the former. The coming of England into various regions across the world was accompanied by its own culture, tradition and stylistics of expression. No different, in many aspects, to the white Europeans coming into the American regions, instituting systems devised by their acclaimed minds; eradicating, or at least subjugating much of the ideals, culture and minds of the land in question. With the arrival of the 21st century, aided by the second world war, the largest conglomerate occupation of the time, no longer exists. However, existing are its relics, notables and power system, with this amalgamation, the culture, tradition and language has seeped into many of the former colonies. The post-colonial world still lays itself into the lap of the old god, which in for the sphere of human expression has caught the eye of many critics of literature. 

In the tradition of the Indian subcontinent, affected (like everyone else) by the colonial hangover for expression, Raja Rao expresses his concerns about the idea of expression itself towards the goal of authenticity, for the expresser, he states, “One has to convey in a language that is not one’s own the spirit that is one’s own…. We cannot write like the English.” Acceptance; the first right move, and the same for the riddle of authentic expression for the post-colonial world. Raja Rao realizes the importance of pointing the difference of worldviews that are to be taken account for, as the two different “spirit[s]” cannot express the same even though the manner is thought to be same – linguistics and language. From the pragmatic perspective Indians do not lack in expressing themselves in the manner of the old rulers. However, the depth of the culture does not run in-line with the roots of the language. In the Canadian context, novelist Robert Kroetsch in his critical essay Unhidding the Hidden points out the same to the writers of Canada, referencing Dave Godfrey “You have a real richness in the people’s vocabulary, in the conflicting vocabularies of a different culture and whatnot. Once you start writing about Canada you get into the problem which I ran into in death goes better with coca cola…” Kroetsch accepting conflict as well as incentivizing change forms yet another field for the fruits of the semantics of a culture which is not the same as its colonizer, although very much in acceptance of the language itself. The literature of the commonwealth, the “postcolonial” literature has had discussions on the matter of accepting English as a valid form of expression on a general basis for themselves. Literary critic W.H. New points out this discussion and notes also the consequence of total acceptance, which is that the “Writers who imitate the language of another culture, therefore, allow themselves to be defined by it.” This is a crucial point brought up by the critic; the blind adoption of a language results in eradication of an expressively (to much extent) incompatible culture. The need for the postcolonial writers to transform the expressive medium of the colonizers while expressing their land is brought to the spotlight. In fact, New goes on to make a brief case for modification, given the nature of English language itself, calling it an “absorptive language.” The potential is left to explore, citing various African poets and writers in his essay New Language New World, New creates fertile ground for the yields of new syntaxes into the English language, in the context of postcolonial literature.

In the discussion for a different linguistic medium, a different syntax, for the majorly global language, the for-the-motion stance is one that is prevalent. Even in diaspora writers like Salman Rushdie who calls for the ‘chutnification’ of the English language in the context of the Indian sub-continent. Literary critics like New, Kroetsch and others have supported the motion as well, conspicuously pointing the need for modification to this accepted language for expression of the left-overs of the former colonies.

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