Comeback of the boomerang – Thomas King’s Short stories in the context of anthropological gaze and linguistic aporia

Sarbani Banerjee


My paper examines how Thomas King has tampered with the Received Standard English in his writings, while making the language bear the burden of his unique communal experiences and perspectives. I explore the function of his hybridized broken English that opens up a dialogue between the ‘Self’ and the ‘Other’ in a postcolonial context. King evinces that the Eurocentric value-additions have resulted in rampant vulgarization of a vast repertoire of indigenous customs, beliefs and idioms. In that light, I study the involvement of anthropology as a discipline with questionable intentions that has romanticized and fossilized the live reality of the indigenous ‘Other’. 

I trace King’s position amid two opposing tendencies – of retrieval of a ‘pure’ pre-colonial past with the aid of native languages by dissociating them from English, and of reaching out to the global audience with the medium of ‘english’. Subsequently, I discuss the various features of King’s writings, such as maintaining gaps of silence, employing untranslated indigenous words and dealing with interchangeable dualities, which draws on Jacques Derrida’s concept of ‘aporia’. The tussle between content and form creates an open-endedness, impeding every kind of presuppositions that facilitate a ‘smooth’ Western readership.  

 Can the indigenous groups practice the same exclusivity within the scope of a radicalized ‘english’ that they previously used to enjoy in their respective aboriginal dialects? I argue that broken English/‘english’ can play the role of mouthpiece for these communities, and become an even more efficient medium for carrying the testimony of violence than the almost-defunct indigenous tongues.   


Broken English, Thomas King, postcolonial, anthropology, indigenous, aporia.

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