The Fall of Language in the Age of English written by Minae Mizumura [Review]

The Fall of Language in the Age of English

The Fall of Language in the Age of English
Author: Minae Mizumura (translators – Mari Yoshihara & Juliet Winters Carpenter)
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Date of Publication: 6 January 2015
Number of Pages: 240
Genre: Non-Fiction (Adult)

Rating: 2 stars

Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary: Universal languages have always played a pivotal role in advancing human societies, Mizumura shows, but in the globalized world of the Internet, English is fast becoming the sole common language of humanity. The process is unstoppable, and striving for total language equality is delusional–and yet, particular kinds of knowledge can be gained only through writings in specific languages.

After a positive start this book quickly displayed how insular, insecure and racist Mizumura is. To make comments that imply anyone tall and blond(e) is Aryan, to call a German man a Nazi because of his bone structure, to be scared of a black man because he is black and to state that the Irish man, PADDY(!!!) had an Irish accent (duh!)  is simply unacceptable. Mizumura also complains about spending ten hours in coach on a flight but seems nonplussed by the thousands upon thousands of Australians (and Americans) who spend that length of time, sometimes to only reach the opposite end of their own country.

I realise this is a very personal account of Mizumura’s time at a writers retreat in America but it does not place the author in a positive light and it does nothing to explain why she thinks language is being diminished. This lack of explanation is hindered by faults within the translation.

The Fall of Language in the Age of English book does not work cross culturally and should have been reviewed by an anthropologist before being sent out into the wide world. Overall, this has been a big disappointment as I did not receive what the blurb promised. Perhaps I missed the point of the argument but neither am I wrong.

Recommended for – no one.

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