Sprachabenteuer: Yoko Tawadas exophone Erkundungen des Deutschen

  • Marko Pajević University of Tartu
Keywords: Yoko Tawada, exophonic writing, translingualism, worldview, multilingualism, adventure


Adventures in Language: Yoko Tawada’s Exophonic Explorations of German. Yoko Tawada (1960) is for good reason one of the prime examples for contemporary German exophonic literature. She is a very successful writer in Japanese and in German and provides in her Germanophone writings an ethnography of the German worldview, as Wilhelm von Humboldt famously called languages, or of the German language-mindset. This article focuses on her 2010 poetry volume Abenteuer der deutschen Grammatik (‘Adventures of German Grammar’) to demonstrate how exophonia can allow us to develop an acute awareness of the ways in which language structures shape our patterns of thinking. Coming from a very differently organised language, Japanese, Tawada comments in playful ways on the implications of German, and compares it translinguistically with Japanese. Looking at German from an outside position enables her to be very creative and to make Germans discover their language with new eyes. Translingual writing, even though also present in a real mixing of languages in Tawada, appears here as a way to understand how much our ideas are shaped by our linguistic structures, and that there are alternative worldviews. It thus contributes greatly to a relativisation of one’s own perspective and helps to open up to difference and creativity.


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