Musical code-switching has been identified in US youth styles such as bachata (Flores Ohlson, 2011; Ohlson, 2007), and rap (Hernández, 2012; Loureiro-Rodríguez, 2017). A growing body of literature considers the lyrical production of the US-Mexico borderlands (Moyna & Loureiro-Rodríguez, 2018, on Lalo Guerrero; Loureiro-Rodríguez et al., 2018, on the Texas Tornados).
This study widens the net by ... [Show full abstract] considering over twenty Texan artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, including both historical (e.g., Rosita Fernández, Freddy Fender), and contemporary figures (e.g., Gina Chávez, Flaco Jiménez). Data were collected from commercial sources (Spotify, Youtube) and specialized repositories (e.g., UTSA Rosita Fernández Collection). Bilingual lyrics (n= 80) were transcribed and analyzed for language-mixing to ascertain form, socio-pragmatic function, and theme (Callahan, 2002; Loureiro-Rodríguez, 2017; Montes-Alcalá, 2012; Sarkar & Winer, 2006; Torres, 2007; Williams, 2010).
The songs showed several recurring bilingual phenomena. These included the presence of two main kinds of code-switching: lexical switches and inter-sentential code-switching at poetic boundaries. On occasion, an artist produces English and Spanish versions, which while monolingual by themselves are evidence of bilingual ability when taken together. Bilingualism can also be highlighted explicitly through metalinguistic references and humor, and most spectacularly, from cross-linguistic rhyming. Formal features underscore themes that cut across historical periods, most pointedly, the contrast in the social roles of both languages. Texan bilingual music emerges as a surreptitious tool to legitimize Spanish in the public sphere by flouting the constraints imposed by hegemonic monolingualism.
The significance of this paper is both theoretical and pedagogical. Historical erasure of Spanish in the US often means that neither students nor instructors are aware of the long history of Spanish-English bilingualism in the arts. By bringing to the fore the representation of code-switching in music, we can engage heritage learners to question the ambiguous status of their heritage language in the public sphere.