Ideophonography and transcultural homophony in the works of Yoko Tawada

Arne Klawitter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The article tries to explain Yoko Tawada's writing techniques, particularly her experimental prose in Überseezungen (2002), a title that can be read and understood in three different ways as Oversea Tongues, as About Soles or as the German expression for Translations. I will analyze Tawada's usage of "scenic homophony" and "ideogrammic" procedures while drawing on insights from Michel Foucault's interpretations of Brisset and Roussel, and compare her ludic dictionary with the one of Michel Leiris, published in Glossaire j'y serre mes gloses (1939). Tawada's intercultural poetry, which can be described as "ideophonography," is based on the language differences produced by translating words from a Western language into ideograms and back into the original language. The effect is a very mobile narrative, which dissolves language and makes it return again, thus generating surprisingly new meanings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-342
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Nov 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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