03 October 2010
Jofre de Foixà
Jofre de Foixà’s dictum to writers in the early 14th century is, unfortunately, still echoed by some creative writing teachers today: “Lengatge fay a gardar, car si tu vols far un cantar en frances, no.s tayn que.y mescles proenςal ne cicilia ne gallego ne altre lengatge que sia strayn a aquell; ne ayten be, si.l faς proenςal, no.s tayn que.y mescles frances ne altre lengatge sino d’aquell. (You should keep the same language, because if you want to compose a song in French, it is not fitting that you mix in Provenςal or Sicilian or Galician or an other language that be foreign to that one [being used]; just as, if you compose in Provenςal, it is not fitting that you mix in French or any other language except that one.)"
Despite the ancient dictum that a text should hold a mirror up to (multilingual) nature and despite the fact that writers from the beginning of literature mixed languages, some creative writing teachers and most literary critics still consider borrowing a word or idea from another language a weakness rather than a strength of a writer.