Critical Thinking

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Borough of Manhattan Community College City University of New York Department of English THE NOMADS OF LANGUAGE by Ariel Dorfman I believe it was Gabriel Garcia Marquez who told me the story of entire Columbian villages that were migratory. Fleeing from catastrophes, plagues perhaps, or recurrent floods, or merely the desolation of being caught in the middle of civil wars, inhabitants of these villages decided, at some point in history, to uproot themselves, moving to a remote location in search of peace. As they packed every belonging that could be transported, they did not forget what was most important to them: their dead. According to Garcia Marquez, these villagers, on the verge of becoming nomads, dug up the bones in the…show more content…
The opposite of this solution is the rejectionist model: I have seen Chilean compatriots of mine who, twenty-five years after they were first banished from their land, continue in a stubborn refusal to learn more than a few words of the host country’s language, their faces and their hearts nostalgically fixed on a remote country, their tongues repeating colloquialisms that, in fact, have fallen out of use back home. It is not necessarily a tactic doomed to failure. They plan to return to Chile someday, and – like so many Kurdish and Moroccan, Indonesian and Korean, Nigerian and Mexican émigrés in a similar situation – indulge in a tactic of cultural survival that holds on to the native language as a pure and intact entity, a bridge, a down payment on that ticket home. These two strategies, assimilation and rejection, represent the two extremes with which monolingualism, its temptation of immaculateness, tugs at the heart and mind of every potential migrant attempting to avoid a Janus-like existence. Of the two, assimilation is the more powerful. Influential and effective institutions align themselves behind this monolingual alternative, first and foremost the nation-state, with all its resources brought to bear on creating and enforcing borders and boundaries, imposing them on geography and bodies, on flags and hymns, as

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