This article explores the complex ways languages map identities and places. By reading Tomson Highway’s novel Kiss of the Fur Queen in the context of Cree dialects in Canada, the essay begins to reveal a hybrid countermap of the country. The paper then takes a close look at the glossed and unglossed Cree in order to understand how Highway uses language to establish and trouble the boundaries among different readers, different communities, and different power relations. The humour in many of Highway’s unglossed Cree names of people and places provides comic relief for Cree readers while it can evoke alienation, frustration, humility, or interest in readers who are illiterate in Cree. At the same time, Highway blurs the boundaries between the two languages and between literate or illiterate readers of Cree by assimilating English into Cree and by making nonsense out of both English and Latin.
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