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Language and Literary Form in French Caribbean Writing$
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Celia Britton

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380369

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380369.001.0001

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Mixing up Languages in the ‘Tout-monde’

Mixing up Languages in the ‘Tout-monde’

(p.138) 10 Mixing up Languages in the ‘Tout-monde’
Language and Literary Form in French Caribbean Writing

Celia Britton

Liverpool University Press

Glissant's essays of the 1990s are dominated by the concept of the ‘Tout-monde’: the world envisaged as a dynamic multiplicity of interacting communities. Communication and thus language(s) assume an important role here, and the view of language expressed in these texts is strikingly different from that of Glissant's earlier work: lack and difficulty are replaced by an abundance of languages, also interacting as their speakers ‘surf’ exuberantly between them. This chapter examines both the ethical and the structural implications of ‘mixing up languages’: the need to protect minority languages and the reconceptualization of language as not a discrete Saussurean langue but a flexible structure (like that of Creole) whose components are interchangeable with those of other languages. It argues that the concept of langage, which has been important throughout Glissant's thought, is expanded in the context of the ‘Tout-monde’ to assume other functions, in particular acting as a bridge between langues; and compares it with Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological notion of the parole parlante.

Keywords:   ‘Tout-monde’, minority languages, language structure, Creole language, Ferdinand de Saussure, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, phenomenology of language

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