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Bookmark and Share Paper 1144

"Dear Amigo": Exploring Code-switching in Personal Letters
Cecilia Montes-Alcalá
102-108 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


While much attention has been devoted to the study of oral code-switching (its form, meaning, and grammatical patterns), very little research focuses on code-switching in writing. This study examines written Spanish-English code-switching in personal notes and letters. The research questions are whether bilingual individuals (who would or would not normally engage in code-switching when speaking) would switch languages when writing and, if so, why. Additionally, the author investigates the cultural nature of code-switching, which has often been overlooked in the search for grammatical and pragmatic constraints. Instead of targeting a particular ethnic or cultural group as other studies have done, this study considers a variety of individuals whose common denominator is being bilingual in Spanish and English, as well as bicultural. The research indicates that these individuals indeed code-switch when writing to other bilinguals, that they possess ample linguistic and cultural knowledge of both Spanish and English, and that their writing exposes specific social and stylistic functions similar to those attested in oral code-switching. Moreover, while code-switching has often carried a social stigma in oral production, it appears to be more acceptable in written communication.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics
edited by Lotfi Sayahi and Maurice Westmoreland
Table of contents
Printed edition: $180.00