2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

Assimilating a Mouthful: Language and Cultural Connections in Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions
Neil V. Bales
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

Replacing native languages with English was one of the methods implemented by the colonizing British to promote the cultural assimilation and hegemony needed to manage their colonies. This paper will examine the ways in which Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions (1989) demonstrates the detrimental effects such linguistic replacement evokes in the colonized female as displayed by Nyasha, whose childhood education in England teaches her to “think” in English, causing her to nearly forget her native Shona language upon her return to Rhodesia. Nyasha’s English proficiency creates a linguistic separation from and understanding of the Shona culture that shows, as Ketu H. Katrak states in Politics of the Female Body: Postcolonial Women Writers of the Third World, “how linguistic choices encode cultural belonging or alienation” and that “forgetting” her native tongue creates a “linguistic outsiderness” which marginalizes Nyasha through the “cultural alienation” experienced by females “caught between English and their own cultural ways.”

Keywords: postcolonialism, language, culture, Dangarembga, Nervous Condition

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 8-5
Location: OP 2113
Time: 9:15 am

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