Linguistic Borderlands Exploring the Role of Language in Uwe Timm’s Morenga

B. Venkat Mani, Pamela M. Potter and Lisa Yager


This essay explores the link between language and power through the definition of political and personal borders exemplified in Uwe Timm’s novel Morenga, which depicts the Nama rebellion in German Southwest Africa. I investigate how the ideologies and atmosphere of this time are depicted with regard to the historical role of language in the German Colonial period, both in the submission and subjugation of the African language and dominance of the German language, and its role in the suppression of the native Nama and Herero people. I also explore the ways in which language is repeatedly part of a failed learning process in the novel, demonstrated by the inability to achieve intercultural understanding and its result in the creation of “new” pidgin languages. Furthermore, I investigate the use of bureaucratic language to convey an authoritative presence, as it is used in historical and pseudo-historical documents and focalization through various figures and media throughout the novel. (LY)