L'Acadie Communautaire: Today's Acadian Linguistic Community

By Christina Keppie.

Published by The International Journal of Community Diversity

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1847 poem “Évangéline: A Tale of Acadia” is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated written works in Acadian literature, having been widely translated around the world. Yet over the years, this poem has served to some extent as a means of mythicizing Acadia, leading to Barbara LeBlanc’s discussion of Acadia as “an imagined community that is limited and sovereign” (2003: 99). As part of a larger, ethnographic-style project, this current research examines the validity of this statement. To do so, we focus on the relation between identity, which we understand as constructed through interactional events and social practices, and the ideological discourse of the three regional French New Brunswick populations in order to understand the terms Acadia and Acadian through the linguistic anthropological concept of a speech community. Through this analysis, we introduce a term Acadian epithet, acadiotrope, to designate all individuals who consider themselves part of Acadia and the Acadian social equality cause that defines the overarching ideology within French New Brunswick today. However, we conclude by proposing the epithet 'L'Acadie communautaire' as a means of acknowledging the regional and ideological diversity within the speech community as a whole.

Keywords: New Brunswick, Canada, Acadia, French, Identity, Speech Community, Discourse, Ideology

The International Journal of Community Diversity, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp.55-63. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 331.478KB).

Dr. Christina Keppie

Assistant Professor of French and Linguistics, Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Western Washington University, Belligham, Washington, USA

Dr. Keppie's academic interests lie in ethnographic research on identity and language attitudes. She has most recently become interested in the cultural and identity portrayals of ethnic groups in online and traditional comics and cartoons. Currently in her second year at WWU, she teaches a wide range of French courses such as language, phonetics, culture, sociolinguistics, and composition. She grew up in New Brunswick, Canada's only officially bilingual province, where she experienced first hand the difficulties faced by Acadians in validating their cultural worth. Using these experiences as inspiration, she completed her PhD at the University of Alberta in 2008, where she focused on the identity of New Brunswick Francophones as seen through the identity of participants of both genders, of different age groups, and different regions. She recently organized Acadia Night, a night of theatre, songs, poetry, and food, all prepared and performed by students from her culture and communication class.