Code-switching in Literature
Bilingual language mixing, or code-switching, has recently entered the public imagination through popular films such as ‘Spanglish’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. This is gratifying for linguists, for whom this is a lively field of study. However, what is less widely studied in both academic and public arenas is the flourishing of code-switching in literature. The spread of English is one factor currently giving rise to this worldwide phenomenon, from Latino literature to the Urban London speech of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, from Helen de Witt’s The Last Sumarai to Mulk Raj Anan’s Coolie. Elsewhere, from French-speaking Canada to the Caribbean, poets and writers are exploiting the creative possibilities of combining languages within the same works.
This conference is a first step towards formalizing and theorizing a phenomenon which concerns both the study of linguistics and literature equally, and is represented in both burgeoning musical genres and the electronic media. Papers are expected to combine an interest in theoretical issues to do with the role of code-switching in literature with the description of specific texts or writers. Anticipated output will take the form of an edited collection, which will be the subject of a preliminary discussion at the conference.
For more information please contact: Penelope Gardner-Chloros Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication, SSHP, Birkbeck University of London