Macaronic

Spencer Smyl

The Not of What She Didn’t Know, a collection of micro-fiction stories by Canadian author Meredith Quartermain published in TCR 3.12, offers various short stories that push the normal reader’s understanding and perspective to the above and beyond. Starting as a beginner, a novice and a neophyte when reading her stories, Quartermain forces each reader to think differently for each of her micro-fictions. She is primarily able to do this by using different literary devices to illustrate her stories so they are original and unique from the others. “L’amante anglaise”, one of Quartermain’s micro-fiction stories, is strongly developed thought the usage of the literary device macaronic language. Through this, the reader is able to articulate an intimate and confusing theme in which Quartermain wishes to display. This short piece also conveys and accurate cultural representation of the bilingual French and English nature in the heart of Canada, and Quartermain is able to do this through the usage of macaronic language.

Macaronic language, closely compared to code-switching, refers to text that is either spoken or written using a mixture of two or more languages. Using macaronic language, it is common to see a play on words through bilingual puns, particularly when the languages are used in the same context. However, the illustration of these languages must be integrated in such a way that there are no clunky and separated segments of the two distinct forms of dialect, meaning the language must be constructed in the fundamental structure of the writer’s discourse, like the sentence and paragraph structure. This is essential for using macaronic language because when it is not used in this manner it becomes less of a whole constructed language and more of a dichotominal representation of words.

“L’amante anglaise” is a micro-fiction that is completely built with macaronic language from start to finish. Quartermain develops this piece by using both whole English and French sentences, along with mixed sentences of the two. “Don’t you know French when elle vous donne un coup sur la tete?” (Quartermain 52) is one example of macaronic language used by Quartermain. In-doing-this, she is able to create a mood that some may find confusing, yet does truly depict the bilingual nature in central Canada – it’s confusing, fragmented, and yet whole. This is how Quartermain is able to promulgate an effective theme in this short piece. By contrasting the two forms of dialect she is able to creolize these words, creating an effective and complete theme.

Work Cited

“Macaronic language.” The Free Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition. 1970-1979. The Gale Group.  Web.  26 Jan. 2011

Quartermain, Meredith.  “L’amante anglaise.” The Capilano Review 3.12 (2010): 52.  Print.

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