Multilingual Writing in The Stolen Bicycle
This article examines two aspects of the multilingual writing in Wu Ming-Yi’s work, The Stolen Bicycle. The first is the notation for seven languages other than the main language, Chinese. As a result, it was found that English, Japanese, Tsou, and Taiwanese words were inserted in their original language, such as alphabets, kana, and graphic characters. As for why the author adopted so many languages, it was concluded that it was to hint at the existence of bilingual characters. The term “bilingual” as used here means that one language is the main language and the other language may be mixed into the first language using only one word, instead of manipulating multiple languages separately. From this point, it can be said that the multilingual space of Taiwan reflected in this work is very interesting because the languages do not have sharp boundaries, which suggests the liberation of Taiwan’s multilingual character.
I then focused on the variety of bicycle names at the heart of the story. After examination, it became clear that the names were used properly according to age and language attributes, such as the Japanese “jiten-sha” for pre-war generations, and “tbib-bé” or “khóng-bing-tshia” for native Taiwanese speakers, and the Chinese “chiao-t’a-ch’e” or “tan-ch’e” for postwar generations. Additionally, even when different names are mixed for one character, time-series changes such as “jiten-sha” or “tbib-bé” to “chiao-t’a-ch’e” can be read. The background behind these detailed settings is the exchange of the two national languages before and after the war and the elimination of dialects in the postwar period. In other words, the inconsistency and rapidity of changes highlight the conflict between languages; thus, Wu Ming-Yi intentionally designed this word use to illustrate the repressive process of language.