Title

Code Switching in Popular Music: A Look at How Artists Mix English and Spanish

Subject Area

Hispanic Linguistics

Abstract

This paper addresses the use of code switching in popular music in the United States. While this behavior has often been viewed negatively or as a sign of the incomplete acquisition of a language, it has been shown that code switching requires an intimate understanding of the syntactic rules of each language. The experience that bilinguals have with code switching varies widely from person to person, but certain patterns have emerged. Code switching is generally a spontaneous act, and while it is difficult to identify the motivation behind a particular instance of code switching, indexing identity and convenience have been found to be two factors that influence this behavior. Code switching in popular music is of particular interest because it differs in important ways from what is seen in face-to-face interactions among bilinguals. This paper looks at songs by Pitbull, Jay Z, and Enrique Iglesias in order to understand the ways in which these artists employ both English and Spanish. Part of the motivation behind switching from one language to the other is clearly to index a mixed identity, but this code switching lacks the spontaneity found in face-to-face interactions and also serves a stylistic purpose. By analyzing the ways that code switching in these songs differs from face-to-face code switching, this paper attempts to shed more light on the phenomenon a whole, in addition to grounding it in the specific cultural context of the United States.

Brief Bio Note

Jennifer Robinson is a Master’s student studying Spanish Linguistics at the University of Georgia. She graduated from Auburn University in 2013 with a dual degree in Spanish and Professional Writing. Her interests include the changing role of Spanish in the United States and how the linguistic means for expressing politeness in Spanish vary across cultures.

Keywords

Code switching, Popular music, English, Spanish

Location

Room 212

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-26-2015 1:30 PM

End Date

3-26-2015 2:45 PM

Embargo

5-23-2017

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Mar 26th, 1:30 PM Mar 26th, 2:45 PM

Code Switching in Popular Music: A Look at How Artists Mix English and Spanish

Room 212

This paper addresses the use of code switching in popular music in the United States. While this behavior has often been viewed negatively or as a sign of the incomplete acquisition of a language, it has been shown that code switching requires an intimate understanding of the syntactic rules of each language. The experience that bilinguals have with code switching varies widely from person to person, but certain patterns have emerged. Code switching is generally a spontaneous act, and while it is difficult to identify the motivation behind a particular instance of code switching, indexing identity and convenience have been found to be two factors that influence this behavior. Code switching in popular music is of particular interest because it differs in important ways from what is seen in face-to-face interactions among bilinguals. This paper looks at songs by Pitbull, Jay Z, and Enrique Iglesias in order to understand the ways in which these artists employ both English and Spanish. Part of the motivation behind switching from one language to the other is clearly to index a mixed identity, but this code switching lacks the spontaneity found in face-to-face interactions and also serves a stylistic purpose. By analyzing the ways that code switching in these songs differs from face-to-face code switching, this paper attempts to shed more light on the phenomenon a whole, in addition to grounding it in the specific cultural context of the United States.