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Two Languages in the Self/ The Self in Two Languages: French-Portuguese Bilinguals' Verbal Enactments and Experiences of Self in Narrative Discourse

Michèle E. J. Koven
Ethos
Vol. 26, No. 4 (Dec., 1998), pp. 410-455
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/640663
Page Count: 46
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Two Languages in the Self/ The Self in Two Languages: French-Portuguese Bilinguals' Verbal Enactments and Experiences of Self in Narrative Discourse
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Abstract

Discussions of the cultural and linguistic construction of self often assume monoculturalism and monolingualism to be the norm. This article explores how the complex sociolinguistic repertoires of French-Portuguese bilinguals allow speakers to perform different kinds of "selves" in each language. Narratives of personal experience in each language are analyzed in terms of the effect of narrative forms on speakers' reported experience of dual selfhood and the effect of these forms on others' perceptions of the speakers in each language. This approach shows how different ways of speaking in each language point to contrasting experiences and positional identities of bilinguals in French and Portuguese societies. It is suggested that the context from which "self" emerges is itself created in part by the choice among different forms of language(s).

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