01 November 2009

US multilingual ethnic literature

In her "Code-switching in US ethnic literature: multiple perspectives presented through multiple languages" (2005), Holly E. Martin writes:

"For the multilingual author, switching between two or more languages is not an arbitrary act, nor is it simply an attempt to mimic the speech of his or her community; code-switching results from a conscious decision to create a desired effect and to promote the validity of the author’s heritage language. This article looks at code-switching in literary texts between Spanish and English, English and Chinese, and English and Jemez, a Native American language. Incorporating native and heritage languages along with English within a literary work, usually through code-switching, creates a multiple perspective and enhances an author’s ability to express his or her subject matter."

Among the five elements of the literary experience (author, text, reader, world, tradition), the one with the least attention focused on it is that of the reader. The study of multilingual literature is no exception. We need to do a lot more, as the article does, to focus on the reader and how the act of reading is enriched by the use of more than one language in a text.

No comments:

Post a Comment