Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Radical Code-switching in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2013), 90, (4), 475–487.

Abstract

This paper examines the use of Spanish in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) by Junot Díaz in the context of Torres' (2007) analysis of code-switching strategies by Hispanic authors. First, I consider the nature of the Spanish words that Díaz borrows from Spanish, which are not italicized or translated, and most of which would not be transparent to anglophones. Second, I examine his use of code-switching and point out how Díaz creates powerful bilingual images by flouting well-known constraints on intrasentential code-switching. Finally, using Muysken's (2000) typology of code-switching, I show that in contrast to other texts, which are characterized by sustained alternation, and which Torres (2007) calls ‘Radical bilingualism’, the main mechanisms used here are insertion and congruent lexicalization, which result in a text where, rather than alternating with English, Spanish becomes part of English. I call this strategy ‘radical hybridism’.

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Author details

Casielles-Suárez, Eugenia