Weird English

Overview

With increasing frequency, readers of literature are encountering barely intelligible, sometimes unrecognizable languages created by combining one or more languages with English. Evelyn Ch'ien argues that weird English constitutes the new language of literature, implicitly launching a new literary theory.

Weird English explores experimental and unorthodox uses of English by multilingual writers traveling from the canonical works of Nabokov and Hong Kingston to the less critiqued...

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Overview

With increasing frequency, readers of literature are encountering barely intelligible, sometimes unrecognizable languages created by combining one or more languages with English. Evelyn Ch'ien argues that weird English constitutes the new language of literature, implicitly launching a new literary theory.

Weird English explores experimental and unorthodox uses of English by multilingual writers traveling from the canonical works of Nabokov and Hong Kingston to the less critiqued linguistic terrain of Junot Díaz and Arundhati Roy. It examines the syntactic and grammatical innovations of these authors, who use English to convey their ambivalence toward or enthusiasm for English or their political motivations for altering its rules. Ch'ien looks at how the collision of other languages with English invigorated and propelled the evolution of language in the twentieth century and beyond.

Ch'ien defines the allure and tactical features of a new writerly genre, even as she herself writes with a sassiness and verve that communicates her ideas with great panache.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In her first book, scholar Nien-Ming Ch'ien (English, Univ. of Hartford) makes a sophisticated theoretical argument by proposing that with the rise of world literatures in English, readers are encountering barely intelligible and sometimes unrecognizable English resulting from a combination of one or more languages with English. She terms this combination weird English (which includes, for example, Japglish, Chinglish, and Spanglish) and places it in opposition to orthodox English. Examining the works of such multicultural writers as Vladimir Nabokov, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Arundhati Roy, the author posits that weird English obliterates the boundary between the sacred and the profane in language and demands a new literary theory. Moreover, this variety of English serves as a subversive strategy for immigrant and postcolonial writers since it destabilizes the dominance of English; allows other languages to enjoy the same status; enables these geographically, culturally, and linguistically exiled writers to articulate the spirit of diasporic cultures; and, ultimately, invigorates English. The author's somewhat unorthodox and vivacious style perfectly complements her argument. Her book, which includes useful scholarly notes, is essential for academic libraries, especially those with strong postcolonial, postmodern, and sociolinguistics interests.-Aparna Zambare, Central Michigan Univ. Libs., Mount Pleasant Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674013377
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 6/15/2004
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Evelyn Nien-Ming Ch'ien is Associate Professor of English at the University of Minnesota.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 A shuttlecock above the Atlantic : Nabokov's mid-life and mid-geographic crises 60
2 Chinky writing 105
3 The politics of design : Arundhati Roy 154
4 "The shit that's other" : unintelligible languages 201
5 Losing our English, losing our language : the unintelligibility of postcolonial theory 243
Notes 283
Index 335
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2006

    Eh.

    Although I must admit it is on a rather interesting topic, it lacks the whip of a good book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2005

    Excellent read.

    The title looked extremely bland. But once you started reading the book, you can't help but become engrossed. It was an amazing book, filled with interesting perspectives. This is must read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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