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Sprachbarriere und Kulturdifferenz in der Kolumbus-Epik des 18. Jahrhunderts

Ina Schabert


Pages 159 - 174



The article enquires into the representation of the language barrier in 18th-century epic poems on the first encounter of Columbus with Native Americans. Whereas some of the ‘Columbiads’ neglect the barrier in favour of an imperialist or missionary agenda, in others it is taken seriously as a sign of cultural difference. Several works introduce the figure of a translator to personify the desire and the danger of venturing into a linguistically and culturally new world; one poem even shows the European sailors and American Indians engaged in the adventure of collective language learning in order to share the other’s knowledge and view of life. In contrast to the postcolonial cliché of a one-sided linguistic appropriation of the indigenous world on the part of European writings, the poems argue for mutual respect, unselfish curiosity and a reciprocal exchange of mental and material goods.

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