fulbright Taiwan online journal

fulbright Taiwan online journal

Author: Gina Elia 艾真

Gina Elia 艾真
Gina Elia is a PhD Candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in modern and contemporary Chinese literature. Her dissertation explores the signification of religious literary modernity in Republican Era China. "Religious literary modernity" refers to the literature of several prominent authors from this period, in which religious belief is conceptualized as fundamental to the formation of a successful and sustainable modern society.

The Native Speaker: A Category in Need of Rupture

In my language, we say “I love you” a lot. Think about that sentence for a minute. Really think about it. Does it strike you as odd? I speak of my native language, which happens to be English, as though it belongs to me.  But how can something as massive and unruly as a language belong to anybody? The largest category of words in almost any language is technical—specialized jargon unknown to the majority of native speakers. Languages are created by human beings, but they quickly grow into giant, complex webs of syntax and vocabulary bigger than any one person. So how can a language belong to anybody? Sure, “my language” might simply be a form of shorthand, easier than having to say in full, “the language I speak,” all the time. It is also no different than the way people use the possessive pronoun to describe every aspect of their identity—“my nationality,” “my religion,” and so on. Yet, in the above sentence, I also use my supposed “ownership” of the English language as the basis for feeling comfortable asserting how “I love you” is used by all English speakers in the world, as though I could ever assert such

Read More »
Share on email
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on facebook

Research & Reflections

fulbright taiwan online journal