The Mother Tongue in Cyberspace

by Magdalene Redekop

In her essay, "The Mother Tongue in Cyberspace," Magdalene Redekop presents a wide-ranging discussion of orality, mother tongue and ethnicity, especially in relation to literary writings by Mennonites. Her mother tongue, of course, is one variant of the Plautdietsch dialect spoken by-or at least familiar to—many descendants of Russian Mennonite immigrants to Canada and the United States. Although some entire literary texts have been written in that dialect, notably the Koop enn Bua stories of Arnold Dyck, Plautdietsch more often appears as words, phrases or sayings in writings in English. The effect is almost always humorous. To her essay she adds a special treat: her own reading of a selection from the Koop enn Bua stories.

Comments for The Mother Tongue in Cyberspace

  • Kendall Neufeld

    On February 8, 2009 Kendall Neufeld wrote:

    I am a descendant of Russian Mennonite immigrants, although I don’t exist in Plautdietsch. Nonetheless I found Dr. Redekop’s insight and criticism stimulating and very helpful toward defining the existence I do find myself in. I very much appreciate the life, open-endedness, and participatory nature of this cybarticle.

    My mother tongue is singular and does not technically involve the fascinating complexities inherent to translation. Yet I am drawn in some way simply to the sound of the old language. It is not exactly nostalgia that elicits my attention as the discourse was rarely used around me in my childhood. Incidentally, I love the idea of and potential for a resurgence of forgotten language and orature with the advent of Web culture and community…

    But why would anyone want to listen to a language they don’t understand? Is this a trickster’s question?

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