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The (Pre)History of Literary Spanglish: Testimonies of the Californio Dialect

The (Pre)History of Literary Spanglish: Testimonies of the Californio Dialect
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  Hispania  97.3 (2014): 357–59AASP Copyright © 2014 English-Spanish Code-switching in Literary exts: Is It Still Spanglish as We Know It? Domnita Dumitrescu California State University, Los Angeles  Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española E ncouraged by the success o the session on “Spanglish” organized by the AASP last year at the MLA Convention in Boston (see the 2013 MLA Convention Feature in Hispania  96.3), the AASP organized a ollow-up session this year in Chicago, this time ocusing on the use o code-switching between English and Spanish in literary writings rather than in oral interaction among bilinguals. Its title (which preserves the popular name o code-switching as “Spanglish,” to acilitate understanding) was “English-Spanish Code-switching in Literary exts: Is It Still Spanglish as We Know It?”One reason or ocusing on this particular aspect o the US literature written by Hispanics is that, as Aparicio (1994) pointed out: While some prescriptive linguists, editors, and authorities in education would judge the intererence o Spanish and English as a deficit, a postmodern and transcreative approach would validate it as a positively creative innovation in literature. Indeed, the most important contributions o US Latino/a writers to American literature lie not only in the multiple cultural and hybrid subjectivities that they textualize, but also in the new possibilities or metaphors, imagery, syntax, and rhythms that the Spanish subtexts provide literary English. (797) Te other, related reason (which the question in the subtitle o the session tries to answer) is that there has been a long debate about whether or not, or at least to what extent, literary code-switching is “authentic,” that is, reflective or mimetic, o what is taking place in the “real world” o the bilingual Hispanic communities in the United States. In the past, the prevalent positions (based almost exclusively on analyses o Chicano literary productions, in particular poetry) seemed to have been that “not only there may be but that there must be  significant differences between literary code-switching and real lie code-switching” (Keller 1979: 269), or that one can clearly distinguish between mimetic code-switching (which tries to mirror society) and literary code-switching (which pursues other goals o aesthetic nature) (Keller 1984: 178). More recent studies, however, emphasize the usion o both types o code-switching, in particular in narrative texts. So, or instance, Montes-Alcalá (2012)—based on the careul examination o a selection o contemporary bilingual novels by Mexican-American, Nuyorican, and Cuban-American writers where Spanish and English alternate—claims that “the socio-pragmatic unctions that have been traditionally ascribed to oral discourse” can also be ound in a bilingual literary corpus, and she concludes that “code-switching in these texts may be considered authentic and not just purely rhetorical” (85). Tereore, as orres (2007) has pointed out, in an ofen cited article: [A]n important contribution of these texts is that they continue to document the multilingual reality that exists in this country. Latino/a fictional texts are an example of a contact zone where English and Spanish confront each other and comfortably or uncomfortably coexist. (92)   2  0 1 4 ML A C on v e n t  i   onF  e  a t   ur  e   Te our papers presented in the aorementioned MLA session provide, each one in its own manner, insights into these issues. Te first paper, by Covadonga Lamar-Prieto, documents the existence o code-switching in a written corpus o documents (including early Spanish local periodicals) rom Caliornia’s nineteenth century. Tese documents prove the continuity (con-tested by some previous scholars) between the Caliornio dialect o Spanish and contemporary Spanish spoken in Caliornia. Moreover, it demonstrates that “many words and expressions that are considered ‘recent corruptions’ or the result o recent linguistic accommodation have, however, a very extensive history in the community,” and that “Spanish-English code-switching is not ‘something new’ that appears in contemporary times, but an inherent eature o the Span-ish language spoken in Southern Caliornia,” and probably other states rom the southwest, I should add.Te second paper, by Jorgelina Corbatta, was srcinally titled “Gloria Anzaldúa’s Discourse as a  Mestiza  and Queer Writer,” and it analyzed the concept o mestizaje  in Anzalduá’s theory o borderland identity as “a way o challenging binary thinking and being beyond either/or,” which includes a multiplicity o discourses, or speaking “ex-Mex with a Brooklyn accent.” Afer commenting on Anzaldúa’s poem, “o Live in the Borderlands Means You,” Corbatta traced an interesting parallel between this iconic Chicana eminist and Julia Kristeva. It is this last part o Corbatta’s paper that we chose to publish in this Hispania  issue because it shows how “rom the Mexican border and the cosmopolitan Paris two eminist socialist writers and essayists come together in a multicultural approach as a mark o inclusion, increased consciousness and dialogue that evolved rom an initial  political revolution  to become an interior revolution .”Te third paper, by Andrés Aluma Cazorla, is an analysis o the use o Spanglish in Ángel Lozada’s novel, No quiero quedarme sola y vacía . A gay Puerto Rican immigrant to New York, the protagonist expresses his ailed struggle to overcome the hostility o his host city and to be accepted into its cultural and social environment through the use o a mixed discourse, which, in Aluma Cazorla’s opinion, is more o a parody than a linguistic transgression.Finally, the ourth contribution, by Roshawnda Derrick, considers the English-Spanish code-switching employed by Chávez-Silverman in her text Killer Crónicas  in comparison to other bilingual texts like Sandra Cisnero’s Caramelo  and Junot Díaz’s Te Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao . Her conclusion is that “radical bilingualism”—a term employed by orres (2007) to designate texts that contain sustained sections o code-switching and can only be read by a bilingual audience—is achieved in different ways by each author, and that Killer Crónicas exemplifies “ language fusion , which occurs as Spanish and English use together through the use o sustained code-switching and intra-word switches to create a completely hybrid text which can be only read by English-Spanish bilinguals.”I would like to conclude by quoting orres (2007) again with this interesting comment regarding the uture o such texts in the United States. She states: As the number and power o Latino/as in the United States increases, it will be interesting to see i Spanish continues to muscle its way into what have been exclusively English language arenas. I radical bilingual literary texts prove to be viable in the market place, it is conceivable that in the coming years Spanish will appropriate more and more textual space in Latino/a fiction published by mainstream presses. (92) Tis was written one year beore Junot Díaz, another author o “used” bilingual texts (Dumi-trescu 2014) won the Pulitzer Prize or Literature.      2   0   1   4    M    L    A    C   o   n   v   e   n   t    i   o   n    F   e   a   t   u   r   e  WORKS CIED Aparicio, Frances. (1994). “On Sub-versive Signifiers: US Latina/o Writers ropicalize English.”  American Literature  66.4: 795–801. Print.Dumitrescu, Domnita. (Forthcoming 2014). “ Dude was figureando hard  : El cambio y la usión de códigos en la obra de Junot Díaz.” Perspectives in the Study of Spanish Language Variation.  Ed. Andrés Enrique-Arias, Manuel Gutiérrez, Alazne Landa, and Francisco Ocampo. Santiago de Compostela: U de Santiago de Compostela (Anexos de Verba, 71). Web.Keller, Garry D. (1979). “Te Literary Stratagems Available to the Bilingual Chicano Writer.” Te Iden-tification and Analysis of Chicano Literature . Ed. Francisco Jiménez. New York: Bilingual/Bilingüe. 263–316. Print.———. (1984). “How Chicano Authors Use Bilingual echniques or Literary Effect.” Chicano Studies:  A Multidisciplinary Approach . Ed. Isidro Ortiz, Eugene García, and Francisco Lomelí. New York: eachers College. 171–92. Print.Montes-Alcalá, Cecilia. (2012). “Code-Switching in US Latino Novels.” Language Mixing and Code-Switching in Writing: Approaches to Mixed-Language Written Discourse . Ed. Mark Sebba, Shahrzad Mahootian, and Carla Jonsson. London: Routledge. 68–88. Print.orres, Lourdes. (2007). “In the Contact Zone: Code-Switching Strategies by Latino/a Writers.”  MELUS  32.1: 75–96. Print.   2  0 1 4 ML A C on v e n t  i   onF  e  a t   ur  e   Hispania  97.3 (2014): 360–61 AASP Copyright © 2014 Te (Pre)History of Literary Spanglish : estimonies of the Californio Dialect Covadonga Lamar Prieto University of California, Riverside  he Spanish language has been present in Caliornia since the eighteenth century. Since then, it has evolved rom a migrant language to a vernacular variety o Spanish: a new dialect in the making (Parodi 2011). I have compiled a 35,000-word corpus o mostly previously unpublished manuscript documents that I have transcribed, which shows that there was a vernacular variety o Spanish in Caliornia in the nineteenth century. Previous studies, such as those by Espinosa (1940), Blanco (1971), and Moyna (2009), point in the same direction. I reer to this variety as Caliornio Spanish, with the same term that its speakers used to reer to themselves in the nineteenth century.Te first document o the corpus is rom 1804, and the last one is dated 1886. Te docu-ments, which belong to Te Bancrof Library at UC Berkeley and to UC Irvine, represent the Spanish spoken in the Caliornia area during the nineteenth century. From judicial proceedings and land grants to personal letters and shopping lists, I have included a wide array o documents and authors in the corpus, in order to cover as many sociolinguistic variables and pragmatic registers as possible. In addition to documenting the existence o the Caliornio dialect, the corpus shows a relationship with contemporary Spanish in Caliornia. Probably the most salient eature o Los Angeles Vernacular Spanish, at least considered rom a mainstream point o view, is contact phenomena, such as semantic extensions, borrowings, and code-switching ragments o differ-ent kinds. All three were already present in nineteenth-century Caliornio Spanish, as we can observe in the ollowing examples (emphasis added).(1) nuestros padres ueron los verdaderos  pioners  de este pais privilegiado (2) como testigo ocular que he sido puedo asegurar que Nueva Helvetia ué objeto de un esquateo ormidable (3) De allí hacian sus excurciones al campo diariamente en busca de rezes de la  Mission . (qtd. in Lamar Prieto 11–19)Te above examples resemble contact phenomena that have been documented in contemporary Spanish in Caliornia as well. In act, some o the examples, such as (4), are sel-explanatory in regards to their continuity in contemporary Spanish in Caliornia. (4) Procura ver si los taxes  de Pudenciana no están pagados, págalos . . . no sea que la  vayan a rematar. (qtd. in Lamar Prieto 297)Tese examples, among others, reveal how many words and expressions that are considered “recent corruptions” or the result o recent linguistic accommodation have, however, a very    2   0   1   4    M    L    A    C   o   n   v   e   n   t    i   o   n    F   e   a   t   u   r   e  extensive history in the community. Contact phenomena, then, were an element o the Caliornio dialect less than two decades afer the annexation. Tese phenomena are also vividly present in contemporary Los Angeles Vernacular Spanish. It means no more—or no less—than a dialectal history o one hundred and fify years. Consequently, Spanish-English code switching is not “something new” that appears in contemporary times, but an inherent eature o the Spanish language spoken in Southern Caliornia and, as such, provides the dialect with a historical dimension that merits urther study and academic recognition. WORKS CIED Blanco, Antonio S. (1971). La lengua española en la historia de California: Contribución a su estudio.  Madrid: Cultura Hispánica. Print.Espinosa, Aurelio. (1940). “Spanish Folktales rom Caliornia.” Hispania  23.1: 121–44. Print.Lamar Prieto, María Covadonga. El español de California en el XIX  . Diss. UCLA, 2012. Print.Moyna, María Irene. (2009). “Back at the Rancho: Language Maintenance and Shif among Spanish Speak-ers in Post-annexation Caliornia (1848–1900).” Revista Internacional de Lingüística Iberoamericana 7.2(14): 165–84. Print. Parodi, Claudia. (2011). “El otro México: Español chicano, koineización y diglosia en Los Ángeles, Califor-nia.” Realismo en el análisis de corpus orales: Primer Coloquio de Cambio y Variación Lingüística . Ed. Rebeca Barriga Villanueva and Pedro Martín Butragueño. Mexico: El Colegio de México: 217–43. Print.   2  0 1 4 ML A C on v e n t  i   onF  e  a t   ur  e 
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