A Common Language?

Ardis Butterfield

in The Familiar Enemy

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199574865
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722127 | DOI:
A Common Language?

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  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)


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explores how certain writings represent people interacting across language differences. This involves trying to gain a sense of how people thought about their own language use, what they understood by linguistic barriers, and what significance they attached to them. When they heard one another speak, what did they hear? How did an English speaker of French hear continental French, and how did a continental French speaker hear Anglo‐French? Through close reading of several ‘Anglo‐French’ fabliaux and other textes en jargon franco‐anglais in which writers display a self‐conscious humour about the differences between kinds of French, the chapter argues, with reference to Derrida, that issues of identity are performed through differences in pronunciation. With subtle comedy, these writers show that sharing a language can be a rich source of social distinction, yet also an unreliable means of wielding power.

Keywords: French pronunciation; Anglo‐French; fabliaux; Derrida; jargon; franco‐anglais

Chapter.  17413 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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