Academic journal article Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies

Code-Mixing in Biliterate and Multiliterate Irish Literary Texts

Academic journal article Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies

Code-Mixing in Biliterate and Multiliterate Irish Literary Texts

Article excerpt

Abstract. Code-mixing and code-switching are common and well-documented processes in the speech of multilingual persons. Where multilingual persons are also literate in each language, code-mixing is also possible in writing. Despite conservative pressures which tend to deem only one of the languages in a linguistic repertoire the prestige variety, and therefore the primary choice for written expression, multiliterate authors who are able to assume a multiliterate readership may use two or more languages in their texts. Some theories of code-mixing are here summarized, along with a review of code-mixing in spoken Irish. Examination of code-mixing in modern and contemporary Irish literary texts shows that, structurally, written code-mixing is for the most part similar to what is observed in spoken language. Functionally, however, written mixing often has wider aims. Because writing is a planned and conscious form of language, multilingual writers utilize their greater linguistic repertoires strategically by imbuing different languages with different symbolic meanings. A full appreciation of such texts requires an understanding not just of the languages involved, but also of their functions in the cultural environment and the historical, political, and cultural associations with the other languages.

Key words. Multilingual writing, bilingual literacy, bilingual literary texts, written codemixing, code-switching.

Resumen. El cambio de lengua y la mezcla de lengua son procesos comunes y bien documentados en el habla de las personas multilingues. Cuando las personas multilingues son alfabetizadas en multiples lenguas, es posible que en la escritura encontremos una mezcla de las lenguas. A pesar de las presiones conservativas que tienden a considerar como variedad de prestigio a solo una de las lenguas en un mismo repertorio linguistico, y por lo tanto como primera opcion de la expresion escrita, los autores alfabetizados en varias lenguas que son capaces de captar la atencion de lectores tambien alfabetizados en varias lenguas pueden utilizar dos o mas lenguas en sus textos. Aqui resumidas, encontrareis varias teorias de cambio de lengua, junto con una revision de la mezcla de lenguas en irlandes oral. Una revision de la mezcla de lenguas en los textos irlandeses modernos y contemporaneos muestra que, estructuralmente, la mezcla de lengua escrita es, mayoritariamente, similar a lo que se ha observado en la lengua oral. No obstante, funcionalmente, la mezcla escrita a menudo tiene objetivos mas amplios. Como la escritura es una forma planeada y consciente del lenguaje, los escritores multilingues utilizan sus mejores repertorios linguisticos estrategicamente imbuyendo distintas lenguas con distintos significados simbolicos. Para una apreciacion cabal de tales textos se precisa no solo la comprension de las lenguas involucradas sino tambien de sus funciones en el contexto cultural, y de sus asociaciones historicas, politicas y culturales con otras lenguas.

Palabras clave. Escritura multilingue, alfabetismo bilingue, textos de alfabetismo bilingue, mezcla de lengua escrita, cambio de lengua.

I. Introduction

Abundant research has explored language contact and its manifestations in spoken language, yet much less has focused on phenomena associated with language contact in written texts. Nevertheless, in many parts of the world, multilingual authors have taken advantage of the greater linguistic choices available to them and used them artfully, as it were, to convey layers of meaning which will resonate with their multilingual readers. In situations of language contact, a sizeable portion of the population may be multiliterate--literate in more than one of the languages involved in the contact. It is this type of literacy which is inclined to manifest language mixing of various sorts.

Despite the relative neglect of multiliteracy and specifically of language mixing in written texts, it is by no means a recent phenomenon. …

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