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"Soy el brother de dos lenguas..." El cambio de código en la música popular contemporánea de los hispanos en los Estados Unidos

Doctoral thesis
Authors Linda Flores Ohlson
Date of public defense 2007-05-26
Opponent at public defense Miranda Stewart
ISBN 978-91-7346-593-9
Publisher University of Gothenburg
Place of publication Göteborg
Publication year 2008
Published at Department of Romance Languages
Language es
Keywords sociolinguistics, ethnolinguistics, bilingualism, language contact, code switching, language and identity, music lyrics, pragmatics, stylistics, Hispanics, Latinos.
Subject categories Languages and Literature


English title: ”Soy el brother de dos lenguas…” Code switching in contemporary popular music of the Latinos in the United States Spanish/English code switching is often regarded as a result of insufficient command of one, or both languages. This view is particularly detrimental when held by individuals who play an important role in the identity construction process of bilingual children, such as teachers and parents. The dissertation provides evidence that code switching is by no means a product of linguistic, cognitive, or educational deficiency, but in fact a very conscious, pragmatic and stylistic device that bilingual speakers use for specific purposes. The aim of this study is to create an analytic model of code switching, based on data from a limited corpus of contemporary popular music lyrics produced by Latinos in the United States. This descriptive model will account for how the artists use the code switching: a) in order to construct and manifest identity, b) in order to add emotional nuances, c) in fashions that vary according to the context of the utterance, d) in correlation with the interlocutors and addressees, e) as a response to specific linguistic structures. The corpus consists of lyrics from the bachata group Aventura (first and second generation immigrants from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico), the rap singer Mellow Man Ace (second generation immigrant from Cuba), the merengue/disco group Proyecto Uno (first and second generation immigrants from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico) and the rock/rap group Molotov (Mexicans and one U.S citizen immigrated to Mexico). The lyrics of ten songs are analysed in detail. The analyses demonstrate that code switching in the lyrics fulfils a large number of pragmatic and stylistic functions, such as creating contrasts in the texts, elaborating utterances, creating stylistic variation, marking the addressee’s identity, responding to the context of the utterance, facilitating rhyme, and in response to words or expression that have no easy translation. All of the uses of code switching can be subsumed under the three general categories of altering markedness, responding to contexts and interlocutors, and responding to particular linguistic structures.

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