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Bilingual Autobiography

Dr Natalie Edwards, University of Adelaide

Linguist Ofelia Garcia proposes the term ‘translanguaging’ to refer to a ‘dynamic bilingualism’ that ‘is centred, not on languages as has often been the case, but on the practices of bilinguals that are readily observable in order to make sense of their multilingual worlds’. In this paper, I examine Kim Thúy’s practice of translanguaging in her 2013 text Mãn. In this text, Francophone Vietnamese writer Thúy blends French and Vietnamese to create a dynamic, plurilingual idiom. I focus on three narrative strategies that Thúy develops: her bilingual inscriptions in the margins of each page, her frequent citations of Vietnamese with no accompanying translation and her creation of words and expressions that meld the two languages to create plurilingual neologisms. Taken together, these strategies move her text beyond the blending of two discreet languages to the invention of a new form of communicating subjectivity in transit.

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