An Excerpt: “The Silence of Polyglots”

Courtesy of Unravelling Magazine

Not speaking one’s’ mother tongue. Living with resonances and reasoning that are cut off from the body’s nocturnal memory, from the bittersweet slumber of childhood. Bearing within oneself like a secret vault, or like a handicapped child –cherished and useless-that language of the past that withers without ever leaving you, You improve your ability with another instrument, as one expresses oneself with algebra or the violin. You can become a virtuoso with this new device that moreover gives you a new body, just as artificial and sublimated-some say sublime. You have a feeling that the new language is a resurrection: new skin, new sex. But the illusion bursts when you hear, upon listening to a recording, for instance, that the melody of your voice comes back to you as a peculiar sound, out of nowhere, closer to the old spluttering than to today’s code. Your awkwardness has its charm, they say, it is even erotic, according to womanizers, not to be outdone. No one points out your mistakes, so as not to hurt your feelings, and then there are so many, and after all they don’t give a damn. One nevertheless lets you know that it is irritating just the same. Occasionally, raising the eyebrows or saying “I beg your pardon?” in quick succession lead you to understand that you will “never be a part of it”, that it” is not worth it,” that there, at least, one is “not taken in.” Being fooled is not what happens to you either. At the most, you are willing to go along, ready for all apprenticeships, at all ages, in order to reach-within that speech of others, imagined as being perfectly assimilated, some day-who knows what ideal, beyond the implicit acknowledgment of a disappointment caused by the origin that did not keep its promise.

Thus, between two languages, your realm is silence. By dint of saying things in various ways, one just as trite as the other, just as approximate, one ends up no longer saying them. An internationally known scholar was ironical about his famous polyglotism, saying that he spoke Russian in fifteen languages. As for me, I had the feeling that he rejected speech and his slack Toccata and Fugue for the Foreigner silence led him, at times, to sing and give rhythm to chanted poems, just in order to say something.

NB: This is an excerpt from Julia Kristeva’s 1991 poetic-critique of strangeness, otherness, “fanatic[ism] of absence”, that is characteristic of the foreigner, the alien. the metoikos, the immigrant, the refugee, the Bohemian etc., Strangers to Ourselves pp. 15-6.

Published by Hibamo Ayalew

Very recently I've come to the decision that I've to say what I've to say in ways I wanted to say irrespective of the "feelings" of the mediocre creatures out there crawling the earth in search of solace where there's none. Seeking wisdom in the Desert of the Real.

Leave Your Comments Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Michael Roberts Blog

blogging from a marxist economist


words, images and musings on life, literature and creative self expression

Nina Power

An online collection of published and unpublished writings

DI Research Zone 22



YPFDJ (Young People's Front for Democracy and Justice), Eritrean youth

Counter Voices in Africa

ASC researcher Mirjam de Bruijn

Madhu Sameer

Meditations on the Nature of Life


Pluralism and Individuation in a World of Becoming

The View East

Central and Eastern Europe, Past and Present.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ethiopia Blogs

The Official Blog of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia


ProShow Thoughts & Tips

Share Your Light

You are a miracle - Let it happen

Tales From The Big Country

My Peace Corps Experience in Ethiopia

Spalding University School of Creative & Professional Writing

Low-Residency Graduate Programs – MFA, MA, Certificate

Fabrication in BBC Panorama 'Saving Syria’s Children'

Analysis of the 30 September 2013 BBC Panorama documentary Saving Syria's Children and related BBC News reports.


Russia, the West, and the world

Proudly Made in Africa

Awarding Excellence in African Industry

Salambo in Addis

Salambo discovering Ethiopia

Media Diversified

Foregrounding voices of colour

The Woyingi Blog

Exploring Black and African identities in the blogosphere

Curating the Future

A futurist's look at the future

המדריך לעתיד - הבלוג של ד"ר רועי צזנה

עתיד, היסטוריה, מדע וטכנולוגיה


Sometimes those Sticking their Heads in the Sand are Looking for Something Deep

Verso UK's Blog

The blog of the UK office of the radical independent publisher

McLuhan Galaxy

A repository of McLuhan-related news, conferences, events, books, articles, links & general information.

Thought Catalog

Thought Catalog is a digital youth culture magazine dedicated to your stories and ideas.


"It’s always with another key that you unlock the house—inside: the snowdrifts of what’s never spoken." —Paul Celan

Worn Out Shoes

Traveling the world one step at a time

The Velvet Rocket

Online Magazine

The Homeless Adjunct

The blog of Junct Rebellion, taking on the corporatized university of America

ann e michael

Poetry, nature, books, & speculative philosophical musings

communists in situ

leberwurst proletariat

Diplo Learning Corner

Get your brain in motion

Raif Badawi's Blog

Raef Badawi Raif Saudi blogger could face apostasy trial

%d bloggers like this: