Prosthetic language
in Bad English
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Chapter three discusses the polyglot poetry and prose of British-Scottish-Asian novelist Suhayl Saadi and poet and multimedia artist Raman Mundair. As this chapter argues, both writers stage scenes of linguistic prosthesis and performance throughout their writing, treating languages not as fully interior systems of meaning but as samples, sounds, and fragments, reflecting theorist Rey Chow’s insistence that for the postcolonial subject, the encounter with ‘language as a foreign object’, with which one must ‘wrestle in order to survive’, is to be able to recognise more fully its reality as ‘prosthetic’. As both Saadi’s work and Mundair’s is at pains to point out – for example, in Mundair’s poetry in Shetland Scots – despite nativist fantasies to the contrary, no particular form of language has an essential relationship to the inner self. This chapter explores, in this context, how Saadi and Mundair navigate questions of linguistic authenticity or inauthenticity, of experimental or commodified, radical or self-exoticised multilingualisms, and argues that each models a politics of language predicated on the denial of all such fixed distinctions.

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