Code-Switching, Language Emotionality and Identity in Junot Díaz’s “Invierno”

  • María Jesús Sánchez Universidad de Salamanca
  • Elisa Pérez-García Universidad de Salamanca


Code-switching (CS) is a linguistic activity typical of bilingual speakers, and thus, a central feature characterising Latino/a literature. The present study reads Junot Díaz’s “Invierno,” a short story from This Is How You Lose Her (2012), with a focus on the oral code-switches that the bilingual Latino/a characters make from English—their second language (L2)—to Spanish—their first language (L1). More specifically, it explores the relationship between CS, language emotionality and identity. The Spanish code-switches are analysed in terms of the emotionality degree they elicit and, linguistically, according to frequency and type—intersentential CS, intrasentential CS and tag-switching. The results reveal a low percentage of Spanish vocabulary, which, nevertheless, fills the story with Latino-Dominican touches and transports the reader to the Caribbean lifestyle. This is probably due to the fact that most are emotionally charged words and expressions, which supports the idea that the frequency of CS to L1 increases when talking about emotional topics with known interlocutors. Thefindings suggest that the L1 and the L2 play different roles in the characters’ lives: the former is preferred for cultural and emotional expressions and is the language the one they identify with more, while the latter is colder and more objective.

Author Biographies

María Jesús Sánchez, Universidad de Salamanca
María Jesús Sánchez received her MA degree from the University of Wisconsin and her PhD from the University of Salamanca, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in the English Department. Her academic research focuses on the teaching and learning of English as a foreign language from a cognitive perspective, always with the aim of applying findings to teaching environments.
Elisa Pérez-García, Universidad de Salamanca
Elisa Pérez-García is a graduate student in English Studies at the University of Salamanca, where she is currently working on her PhD on bi-multilingualism and second language acquisition.


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