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At the micro level in the language

Without accent
CULTURAL CRITICISM / Yoko Tawada moves between German and Japanese words – in line with Paul Celan or Roland Barthes. But did you know that tears contain the stress hormone cortisol?


Yoko Tawada is privileged in many ways. As a poet, re-poet and author, she commutes without major problems between her mother tongue Japanese and German – and therefore also between two different writing systems, traditions and cultures. As a poet, she can move all the way down to the micro level in her two respective author languages, and in the essay book Without accent > she illustrates with concrete examples practical problems in recreating and translating both prose and poetry, and also how random phonetic similarities between German and Japanese words and concepts provide unprecedented possibilities and results. In this also lies a political project, a kind of personal attempt on the part of Tawada to overcome, outmaneuver and pass cultural and national stereotypes and masonry.

She is easily recognizable as an Asian, and although she clearly has a good grasp of both written and spoken German, she is always "revealed" by her skin color and appearance. In a poetological sense, she attacks the cultural and anthropological purity thinking among Germans who expect correct pronunciation and grammar in. . .

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Kurt Sweeney
Literary critic.

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