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Yo-yo Boing! Or Literature as Translingual Practice

  • Heidelberg University


In her review of Yo-Yo Boing!, Jean Franco praises Giannina Braschi's virtuosity at switching between English and Spanish. In the prologue to the novel, Doris Sommer and Alexandra Vega-Merino distinguish between the use of English, Spanish and Spanglish, noting that these are the alternating linguistic realities of the narrative. Yet, what if these, in fact, are not alternations? In this essay, I will begin from a standpoint in which spaces of contact may lead to translingual practices, and where languages constitute a continuous reality in which bilingualism translates into translingualism and languages into translanguage. My contribution adopts an analytical strategy based on the text itself. From this standpoint, the thesis which I intend to propose is basically twofold: On the one hand, that the work under consideration is a translingual narrative, in its formal essence. On the other, that the work might be characterized as “liquid” in its content. For the first proposal, I will build on the contributions made over the past ten years regarding the notion of “translanguaging,” a concept emerging from the field of learning and language acquisition, but which has expanded to encompass a far greater scope and a far more powerful explanatory capacity. For the interpretation of Yo-Yo Boing! as “liquid” literature, I rely on the hypothesis of the Polish philosopher Zygmunt Bauman (2006), although I will offer my own specific approach to the “liquid” in this particular application. According to Bauman, interpersonal relationships in the contemporary world are no longer rigid, stereotyped or structured, but, rather, flexible, adaptable, multiform and unpredictable; in other words, liquid.
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