As the semester concludes, it’s time to spend some time reflecting on the pieces we have read and what it means to be an artist of a floating world. What caught my attention in the conclusion of Rob Burton’s Artists of the Floating World was the section titled “Is English the Dominant Language of the Floating World?” It discusses that while all of these writers were bilingual, they found value in writing their stories in English. Burton expresses that, “Their experience of bilingualism or even trilingualism has clearly enriched their understanding and appreciation of the English language; furthermore, the experience has allowed them to borrow from the rhythms and structural patterns of other languages in order to shape and create new sounds in English” (126). Thinking back, I never took the time to appreciate that the authors were bilingual while reading their respective texts because they have a grasp of the English language and can write in it with such strong fluency. I connected with this issue because I work a lot with bilingual students and try my best to allow them to include bilingual and bidialectical structures within their writing, trying to let them know that their linguistic skills are valued and that there is no one way to write in a standardized version of English.
Another point that I strongly connected with was, “Statistical data indicate that linguistic diversity is threatened by the advance of English: one world language is lost every two weeks when the last speaking member of that particular linguistic group dies” (127). That means that languages are dying at an alarmingly quick rate! I would never have guessed that we were losing a language per every 2 weeks; I may have guessed that we were losing two languages a year. Burton goes on to point out that there is a move within our digital culture to preserve at-risk languages. He asserts that, “As many as 70 at-risk languages have al-ready been digitally archived; more will follow” (127). I have a student who just did an Inquiry project into preserving Yiddish, which was so fascinating to me and so impressive that a student would want to research it. He made a website and has had at leat one person reach out to him about the research that he completed.
The next section in the conclusion that stuck out to me was, “What is the Responsibility of the Citizen in a Floating World?” We’ve talked a lot about what it means to read these texts in a turbulent political climate, such as the one we are living in now, and have discussed that we have a very unreliable narrator at the moment. Burton points out that, “To be a citizen of the floating world is to recognize and acknowledge the narratives that constitute our identity; furthermore, it is understood that these narratives are constantly in the process of being reshaped and rewritten” (131). This resonated with me because so much of our narrative is currently being rewritten. If people such as Salman Rushdie can go to bat and get arrested for expressing his beliefs, it allows us to see that one person can make a difference. All of us need to help write the narrative that we want, but it’s not going to happen if we keep letting an unreliable narrator tell our story.