In Wilfred Owen's poem he ends with "Dulce et decorum est/Pro patria mori". I wonder if there is a recognised term to refer to this technique. Another example of its use is in T.S Eliot's "The Wasteland", where he has lines in German and French such as "And drank coffee, and talked for an hour. Bin gar keine Russin..."

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    There's a whole slew of named tropes that could apply. Enigma, cacozelia, graechismus... some are considered poor style. The exact one for using foreignisms in general (not just Greek or Hebrew) I couldn't find, but I'm sure it's in there.
    – Mitch
    Aug 5, 2021 at 13:28
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    In some cases, it's "pretension".
    – RonJohn
    Aug 5, 2021 at 20:14
  • @RonJohn... exactly. :) Aug 5, 2021 at 21:47
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    Are you looking for the word macaronic? I would reserve that term for more equal mixes, e.g. a few of the Carmina Burana alternate a line in German with a line in Latin or Romance, or verses in one with a refrain in the other. Aug 6, 2021 at 3:33

3 Answers 3


Plurilingualism is switching between languages.

Heteroglossia is a more general term for the juxtaposition of different kinds or styles of speech and can refer to mixing high and low registers or dialects or languages. Bakhtin considered this a defining characteristic of some types of literature.


Code switching is used to refer to this, even in poetry:

In linguistics, code-switching or language alternation occurs when a speaker alternates between two or more languages, or language varieties, in the context of a single conversation or situation. — Wikipedia

For example:


Wilfred Owen's use of "Dulce et decorum est" is also an allusion to the Odes of Horace.

In The Waste Land the author T S Eliot alludes to Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal with the line "hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!"

Frequently an allusion will be in the form of a direct quotation from another text.

Allusions are often in a language other than the language of the work in which they are found. Yet allusions are even-more-often written in the same language as the text in which the allusion is used.

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    Far too broad. As your last sentence concedes. Aug 5, 2021 at 12:07
  • The two examples with which I led are both taken from the original question, and I have identified both accurately. The biggest problem with my answer is that it goes beyond the scope of the query.
    – J. Berry
    Aug 7, 2021 at 19:19
  • This simply isn't the answer to the question. The answer to "What technique is it when you use strings of another language in an English poem?" is not "allusion." Aug 8, 2021 at 0:39

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