A Word is Worth a Thousand Sentiments: A Sociolinguistic Analysis of the Use of Language as a Coping Mechanism in the Bilingual Works of Rosario Ferré, Luz María Umpierre-Herrera, and Judith Ortiz Cofer
Type of Degreethesis
Foreign Language and Literature
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While much of the study of language as a coping mechanism has focused on private discourse, language can serve the same role when it is used in published creative writing intended for a public audience. This use of language to cope becomes even more complex when the author is bilingual and thus has two languages to choose from when writing. In this thesis, I examine how the bilingual works Language Duel/Duelo del lenguaje by Rosario Ferré, En el país de las maravillas by Luz María Umpierre-Herrera, and The Latin Deli by Judith Ortiz Cofer serve to help their authors cope with the prejudice they encounter daily. All three of these books exhibit different styles of bilingualism, from side-by-side translation to an emphasis on one language over the other. By establishing a continuum of bilingual texts, I compare how three Puerto Rican authors all working in academia and who all have lived for considerable time in both Puerto Rico and the United States establish their unique bilingualism. Their differing takes on bilingualism helps the authors find catharsis based on their unique circumstances that a more generic, and less genuine, take on bilingualism could not accomplish.