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Title: The broken bodies of language and history in Vyvyane Loh’s breaking the tongue
Authors: Lui, Karen Jia Yi
Keywords: Humanities::Literature::Singapore
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Source: Lui, K. J. Y. (2020). The broken bodies of language and history in Vyvyane Loh’s breaking the tongue. Master's thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Abstract: This paper addresses the entanglement of language, history, and mutilated bodies in Vyvyane Loh’s Breaking the Tongue. Set in Singapore during the 1940s, Breaking the Tongue presents a fragmented, disorderly third-person narrative of Claude Lim, an Anglicised Singaporean-Chinese who experiences life under the British and Japanese Empires. His interactions with family members such as his father, Humphrey, and Grandma Siok, and encounters with new friends like Han Ling-li and Jack Winchester influence and shape his perspective on his precarious identity as a Singaporean-Chinese. The third-person narrative is interrupted by the seemingly arbitrary presence of Chinese characters and a dream-like second-person narrative of Claude the Body’s torture by the Japanese. This dissertation explores the role of language and mutilated bodies in isolated passages or scenes in redefining notions of identity and history. Touted as “a revelatory book of both novel and history”, Breaking the Tongue’s revelatory quality is subjective as Loh engages in withholding through cryptic dreams and the Chinese language. This project examines the ability of languages to provide specific frameworks that allows a community to make meaning of the world and establish their position in it. However, languages are not all-encompassing. While another language may be able to convey specific nuances that are absent in other languages, it remains fluid due to the subjectivity of interpretation that resists fixed definitions.
DOI: 10.32657/10356/145286
Rights: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SoH Theses

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