A new wor(l)d order : language in the fiction of the new Caribbean diaspora

Bénédicte Ledent

Abstract

Language has always been a major issue for post-colonial writers, being at once an instrument used by the colonial power and one of the prime avenues of resistance to this oppression. For displaced West Indian writers in particular, English has been a significant tool for self-assertion, all the more ambiguous because it is their “mother tongue” while being the tongue of their ancestors’ masters as well. This paper analyses how the younger novelists of the Caribbean diaspora use and transform the English language in their search for a new diasporic, cross-cultural identity. Robert Antoni, Michelle Cliff, Fred D’Aguiar, David Dabydeen, M. Nourbese Philip and Caryl Phillips will be among the writers mentioned in this paper. While some of them resort to nonstandard linguistic forms and thereby deal head on with the tension between local languages and the need for international communication, others have had a more oblique approach to linguistic change, one that involves not so much lexis as tone and rhythm and often operates by rehabilitating silenced voices from the past. I will attempt to demonstrate how these writers have turned speech into a site of creolization expressive of what Caryl Phillips has called “A New World Order”.

Keywords

Literatura caribeña; Novela; Literatura postcolonial; Identidad lingüística



DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2003.16.14