The experience of colonization and the challenges of a post-colonial world have produced an explosion of new writing in English. One of the ways in which Postcolonial writers assert their own identity and liberate themselves from imperial control is to “write back” to the centre. Works iconic to European culture like The Tempest, Robinson Crusoe and Heart of Darkness were rewritten. The Empire writes Back , a book by Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin points out that the main feature of imperial oppression was a control over language. Colonizers usually imposed their language onto the peoples they colonized, forbidding natives to speak their mother tongues. In some cases colonizers systematically prohibited native languages. Many writers educated under colonization recount how students were demoted, humiliated, or even beaten for speaking their native language in colonial schools. In response to the systematic imposition of colonial languages, some Postcolonial writers and activists advocate a complete return to the use of indigenous languages. Others see the language (e.g. English) imposed by the colonizer as a more practical alternative, using the colonial language both to enhance inter-nation communication (e.g. people living in Djibouti, Cameroon, Morocco, Haiti, Cambodia, and France can all speak to one another in French) and to counter a colonial past through de-forming a “standard” European tongue and re-forming it in new literary forms.
The myth of linguistic purity are being debunked. Inspired by Salman Rushdie’s argument concerning the need to decolonize the English language, The empire….back epitomized the increasing popular view that literature from the once-colonised countries were fundamentally concerned with challenging the language of colonial power, unlearning its worldview, and producing new modes of representation. Its authors noted how writers were expressing their own sense of identity by refashioning English in order to enable it to accommodate their experiences. This refashioning worked in several ways. Writers were creating new Englishes through various strategies: inserting untranstable words into their texts: by glossing seemingly obscure terms; by refusing to follow standard English syntax and using structures derived from other languages, incorporating many different creolized version of English into their texts, and in each the emphasis was on the writers attempt to subvert and refashion standard English into various forms of ‘english’, as a way of jettisoning the colonialist values which standard English espoused. Standard English is being displaced from the centre by different linguistic communities in the postcolonial world in an attempt to challenge the colonial value-system it enshrined, and bear witness to these communities’ s assertion of cultural difference.
Dr SHAHLA REHANA
DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH
PATNA WOMEN”S COLLEGE