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Barcelona's Vocation of ModernityRise and Decline of an Urban Image$
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Joan Ramon Resina

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780804758321

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804758321.001.0001

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The Divided City and the Divided Self

The Divided City and the Divided Self

(p.142) Chapter Five The Divided City and the Divided Self
Barcelona's Vocation of Modernity
Stanford University Press

The linguistic metaphors “language” of the city and “grammar” imply a correspondence between urban space and symbolic communication. In his Cours de linguistique générale, Ferdinand de Saussure used the example of the street to show how the linguistic sign is determined by difference. In this context, “language” performs an epistemological function, rather than a communicational one. Like continuity in space, a linguistic continuum is important to a city's identity. The significance of a correlation between both kinds of continuity is evident in cities whose space has shifted in and out of state borders, such as Constantinople/Istanbul, Straβburg/Strasbourg, Danzig/Gdansk, or Königsberg/Kaliningrad. Barcelona's modern history is linked to its struggle to retain a linguistic identity. Juan Marsé's 1990 political satire, El amante bilingüe (The Bilingual Lover), offers the most explicit literary intervention in Catalonia's language conflict and shows the protagonist experiencing the emerging bilingualism as a personality disorder.

Keywords:   city, Barcelona, language, Juan Marsé, El amante bilingüe, bilingualism, Catalonia, linguistic identity, urban space, symbolic communication

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