In introduction to a Rhizome the authors define a rhizome as being able to, “connect any point to any other point, and its traits are not necessarily linked to traits of the same nature; it brings into play very different regimes of signs, and even non-sign states.” (21) They apply this idea to literature and language and in the process deconstruct widely held ideas of both of those subjects.
Early in the chapter the authors declare, “…there is no language in itself, nor are there any linguistic universals, only a throng of dialects, patois, slangs and specialized languages.” (7) Since the capacity for language is something we are born with, then one cannot attribute a beginning or ending to language which makes it a perfect example of a rhizome. According to the authors Rhizomes lack beginnings or endings and have the ability to connect ideas and objects that seemingly have no connection, no common denominator if you will. Language does exactly that.
When you take one group that speaks one language and another that speaks a different language, in order to communicate, they create a pidgin tongue. Pidgin is very basic way to communicate, yet when their offspring are born that pidgin language forms itself into a full fledged language with its own rules and syntax, etc. Much of what we consider Creole language is formed in this manner.
Later in the essay the authors discus American Literature and how it represents the idea of the Rhizome. Unlike other more homogenous cultures America is a salad bowl of people, culture and ideas. We are the land of immigrants from most every continent, along with an indigenous population that managed to survive the throng of immigrants.
All of these seeming disparate pieces have come together to form a national identity as “American” yet all of the elements are different: different cultures, language, religion. Since our country is so different than that difference would find its way into our literature as well.
There is no uniquely American identity that one can draw on, unlike in English literature there can be an English experience or say a French experience in French literature or even a Japanese experience where Japan is concerned. Our American literature would draw upon all of those aspects of America: the cultures, the language, the foods to create an American identity that could be written about, this Americaness because rhizomatic in its creation as it takes these different ideas and turn them into our America, our literature.