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  • The Importance Of Language In Eva Hoffman's 'Lost In Translation'

    Language is an immensely powerful aspect of each individual’s identity and it largely determines and influences how we think and what we think about. As German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “the limits of my language mean the limits of my world”. Though I believe there are definitely other factors that limit or expand one’s “world”, I agree that language strongly influences one’s perspective of the world and overall identity. In her memoir, Lost in Translation, Eva Hoffman addresses this very idea that one’s identity is deeply interconnected with one’s language and when the flow of language is disrupted, changes in one’s identity also occur. Throughout her memoir, Hoffman uses her own experiences to bring across the message that without a concrete foundation in a language, you cannot have a clear identity. The memoir begins with the chapter, “Paradise”, which recounts all the happy childhood memories that young Eva experienced in her homeland, Cracow, Poland. In Poland where her main language was Polish, Hoffman’s identity was firmly rooted in Polish culture. However, when she emigrates and is forced to speak English, she writes multiple times about how the new language is shattering her once solid identity. She describes the journey from Cracow to Canada to “scissors cutting a three- thousand-mile rip through [her] life.” (100) and says with sorrow, “From now on, my life will be divided into two parts” (100). Her original solid identity in her Polish self has…

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