A Psychoanalytic Look into The Effects of Childhood and Adolescent Migration in Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation

  • Fernanda Carrá-Salsberg York University


This article takes a psychoanalytic, philosophical and socio-linguistic approach to the understanding of the short and long term socio-emotional effects of child and adolescent migrations. Through a close analysis of Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation, the author examines the subjective meaning of a primary tongue in relation to migrants’ acquisition and internalization of his/her second language. It begins with a look into the developmental meaning of language and then studies the ways in which early migrations influence subjects’ short and long-term perceptions of their internalized languages, as well as the relations new comers hold with their first and later love objects. In this article migrants’ stages of culture shock and integration are discussed and contrasted with the methodical textual division presented in Eva Hoffman’s memoir. This work examines the significance of retrospective constructions and highlights the way in which Hoffman’s recollections exemplify the inevitable wish to restore ruptures and synthesize life-long conflicting introjections. This article draws attention to the way in which migrants’ initial unsettlement, which derives from preliminary and subsequent stages of linguistic, social and cultural immersions, gives way to a sensed trauma and resulting defenses. This paper suggests how with a good enough environment, emigrants’ experiences often lead to integrations, as well as psychic and social growth. It asks: What occurs to the ego when its’ primary language becomes lacerated following an early migration? How do individuals respond to the loss of its socio-instrumental and affective function? How do migrants’ cultural experiences influence the reconstructed memory of their mother tongue? How do such memories or truths affect newcomers’ initial and later conception of the host language? And, in which ways do such conceptions play a role in the fluid construction of migrants’ language-related identities?


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How to Cite
Carrá-Salsberg, F. (2017). A Psychoanalytic Look into The Effects of Childhood and Adolescent Migration in Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation. Language and Psychoanalysis, 6(1), 10-32. https://doi.org/10.7565/landp.v6i1.1565
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