Words matter; they mold and mirror our values and our reality. And so it is with the language we use to think and talk about species other than our own. In Tongue-Tied, Hanh Nguyen unpacks the many metaphors, meanings, and grammatical formulations that speak to and echo our physical exploitation of other-than-human animals, and shows how they constrain our abilities to relate to our animal kin fairly and honestly.
Full of subtle insights and richly suggestive observations, and drawing from Nguyen’s own cross-cultural experiences, Tongue-Tied offers a glimpse of a language that is freed from euphemistic self-deception, one that accepts definition without limitation and difference without hierarchy.
“The animal rights movement has come under regular criticism for being ‘Eurocentric’ and failing to adequately attend to cultural differences. Nguyen provides insights for moving beyond this, often unwitting, chauvinism. From her distinct multi-linguistic experiences growing up in Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, Nguyen insightfully explores the way language works to continually marginalize other-than-human animals. She calls for critical engagement with the words we use to refer to ourselves and other animals in our work to achieve both linguistic and embodied justice.”—Lori Gruen, author, Entangled Empathy