Linguistic Entrapment: Interlanguage, Bivernacularity, and Life across Tongues.

Author/Editor
Hsy, Jonatahn.

Title
Linguistic Entrapment: Interlanguage, Bivernacularity, and Life across Tongues.

Published
Hsy, Jonathan. "Linguistic Entrapment: Interlanguage, Bivernacularity, and Life across Tongues." postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies 9 (2018), 196-208.

Review
Using the work of Alexandre Baril and José Esteban Muñoz, Hsy addresses how it feels "to be a multi-lingual author who is never ‘at home' in any one language," specifically in the works of John Gower and Charles d'Orléans (196). Hsy begins by making the case for using contemporary theory to read medieval literature in order to consider "nonbinary social positioning" (196). Medieval multilingual authors' poetry demonstrates their experience of what Baril calls a "rhetoric of embodied entrapment" or "a feeling of ‘wrong-bodness'" (198). To illustrate this argument, Hsy introduces a key term, "interlanguage," which he describes as "a phenomenon typically defined as the ‘interference' of the system of rules of one language when using another language'" (198). Hsy discusses the effects of "interlanguage" on Gower's and d'Orléans's bivernacular poetry in relation to Anglophone and Francophone subjectivities. For Gower in particular, Hsy argues that we see "interlanguage" most clearly at work in his "intersex" personifications--that is, when Gower mixes grammatical and descriptive gender. In the “Mirour de l'Omme” in particular, Hsy identifies Gower's play with gender personifications as underscoring his attempt to make French more English. Hsy goes so far as to claim, "Gower puts French in ‘English drag'" (201). Hsy clarifies, "Gower's ‘franglais' offers a styled superimposing of features of L1 (the so-called ‘natural gender' system in English) and L2 (a binary paradigm of grammatical gender in French), and his writing demonstrates both the artistic and the cognitive effects of language transfer" (202). Through such "translingual rhetorical craft," both Gower and d'Orléans trouble cultural binaries, creating "dynamically trans allegorical figures" (206). [JS. Copyright. The John Gower Society. eJGN 38.2.]

Date
2018

Gower Subjects
Language and Word Studies
Mirour de l'Omme