The Code-Switching and Confluence of Languages in Esmeralda Santiago’s When I was Puerto Rican (1993)

Sarah Stamos, Carmen Cañete-Quesada

Abstract


“The Code-Switching and Confluence of Languages in Esmeralda Santiago’s When I was
Puerto Rican (1993)” is an essay/article written to produce and analyze thought on the style of
code-switching of Spanish-English bilinguals. Santiago’s memoir details her young life in Puerto Rico
in a rural home and society and then how she had to transition when she and her family moved to
New York. Code-switching is when, in reference to Spanish and English, a person who speaks English
will substitute an English word or phrase for a Spanish word or phrase. This occurs primarily with
bilinguals. In When I was Puerto Rican, Santiago includes some Spanish words in her English context
(because her primary language is English), practicing code-switching. This essay demonstrates the
fundamentals of code-switching, how it is detailed in When I was Puerto Rican, and how events in
history aided to its modern formation.


Keywords


bilingualism; code-switching; linguistics

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