Monolingualism of the Other

mature fall, in a word, against haste. I have been saying for a long time now that one writes manuscripts for two hands. And I digitize like a madman.

But this disconcerting intimacy, this place "inside" the French language could not not, lo and behold, inscribe in the relationship to itself of the language, in its auto-affection, so to speak, an absolute outside, a zone outside the law, the cleaved enclave of a barely audible or legible reference to that entirely other prior-to-the-first language, to that degree zero-minus-one of writing [écriture] that leaves its phantomatical map "inside" the said mono language. That too is a peculiar phenomenon of translation. The translation of a language that does not as yet exist, and that will never have existed, in any given target language [dans une langue a l'arrivée donnée].

This translation translates itself in an internal (Franco-French) translation by playing with the non-identity with itself of all language. By playing and taking pleasure [en jouissant].

No such thing as a language exists. At present. Nor does the language. Nor the idiom or dialect. That, moreover, is why one would never be able to count these things, and why if, in a sense I shall explain in a moment, we only ever have one language, this monolingualism is not at one with itself.

For the classical linguist, of course, each language is a system whose unity is always reconstituted. But this unity is not comparable to any other. It is open to the most radical grafting, open to deformations, transformations, expropriation, to a certain a-nomie and de-regulation. So much so that the gesture—here, once again, I am calling it writing [écriture], even though it can remain purely oral, vocal, and musical: rhythmic or prosodic—that seeks to affect monolanguage, the one that one has without having it, is always multiple. It dreams of leaving there marks that recall that entirely other language, in short, that degree zero-min us-one of memory.

Jacques Derrida - Monolingualism