Thinking in Uno and Reading en Otro: Codeswitching in American Novels
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Throughout history, languages that have come into contact with each other often fought for supremacy, but ultimately, they ended up coexisting in peace for the most part. The United States is a prime example of multiple languages mixing together, and after generations of doing so, some have blended almost entirely; this is not necessarily a bad thing. The U.S. has a history of being a nation that harbors multiple cultures along with those many languages, and even after wars, expansion, and segregation, those cultures and languages that remain cannot be suppressed. The United States houses multiple cultures, and there are several factors that determine which languages get adopted and which get discarded in different social situations. Factors, such as belief and age, for example, are vital to make these distinctions, and codeswitching (CS) texts have become more significant because they record and showcase how these factors push people to choose which language to use. Spanish and English, primarily, have been in contact for many years, and in the U.S., there have been multiple attempts at pushing out Spanish, but English-only laws have never taken hold nationally. For Americans who are born in the U.S. to Latin American immigrant parents, both Spanish and English are languages that shape their identity and thought process. These people grow up thinking and speaking with both languages running simultaneously through their minds, and they often become bicultural, bilingual readers who are able to read in both languages and can understand CS texts. It is important for their sense of identity that we continue studying what makes these texts so unique, and luckily, readership today is starting to acknowledge not only the existence and legitimacy of CS works, but also the importance of celebrating the unique blend of cultures and Spanish and English in literature. The number of CS texts is expected to grow, and more readers, both bilingual and monolingual, demand more texts like these. This thesis analyzes what makes written CS so relatable to many types of American audiences and how the prevalence of these texts legitimizes their inclusion into the American literary canon.