Abstract

Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur’s French version of his Letters from an American Farmer is at once inextricably linked to, but wholly different from, his English manuscripts. This essay proposes that a study of this overlooked bilingual text should begin by forgoing a comparison of the two versions and instead investigate Crèvecoeur’s bilingualism in its eighteenth-century trans-Atlantic context. An account of Crèvecoeur’s bilingual code-switching, his linguistic affect, and his commitment to language acquisition reveals the complex interrelation of languages in his nomadic life. At a time when using more than one language was not anomalous, but in tension with attempts to establish a stable national vernacular, Crèvecoeur’s case also illuminates frictions in the Atlantic’s linguistic ecology. This essay demonstrates that multilingualism and a standardized national language were not competitors, but coexisted in a fragile linguistic habitat.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0895
Print ISSN
1543-4273
Pages
pp. 189-208
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-23
Open Access
No
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