Language Lost and Found
Nadia Niaz • 29 July 2022
This issue brings together writers reflecting on their relationship with language. Through these essays and poems, they consider the articulations of identity, land, race, religion and relationships allowed and prohibited by different languages – as well as by different relationships with language.
Talking about language is often difficult in Australia. Progressive Anglophone society does romanticise multilingualism, certainly, but only if the languages spoken in addition to English – never instead of – are of a certain pedigree. That is, they must be Western European. Or ancient. Or associated with intellectual achievement. Or sufficiently exotic to be non-threatening. In contrast, the familiar exotic – for example, Chinese or Arabic – and Indigenous languages are forms of multilingualism threatening to the settler colonial project.
Each item below represents a threat, then. Whether their authors are relearning and reclaiming Indigenous heritage, complicating whiteness and genocide, or interrogating families and relationships, these pieces navigate the seams, the in-betweens, the complexities, triumphs and failures of life lived in more than one language.
Nadia Niaz is a Naarm/Melbourne-based writer, editor and academic. She received her PhD in Creative Writing and Cultural Studies from the University of Melbourne, where she teaches Creative Writing in the School of Culture and Communication. Her areas of interest are multilingual creative expression, particularly in poetry, the practicalities and politics of translation, and language use among third culture kids and other globally mobile cohorts. Her first languages are English, French and Urdu.