The linguist Kenneth Pike once suggested that it is the natural state of humans to be multilingual. Two of the consequences of this bi- and multi-lingualism in spoken language are code-switching and code-mixing. In literacy and in public writing, however, conservative pressures tend to confine authors to the use of a single dominant language even though they may be able to read and write several. In contrast, where writing is for private and semi-private purposes, such as in diaries and letters, multiliterate authors may code-switch and code-mix as they do in speaking. Sometimes their purpose is to hide: to thwart invasions of privacy by those whose literacy is more limited; at other times it may be to more safely transmit potentially dangerous or subversive messages. Rare cases of code-mixing in public writing can certainly be found historically, but the last few decades have brought an increasing number of these works. The purpose of public, written code-mixing and switching is often to exploit the private purposes: to "out" oneself or one's message rather than to hide it; to deliberately subvert the pressures that demand widespread adoption of a particular language and its associated cultural values; or to mirror, parody, and thereby reverse colonial constructions of nondominant people, cultures, and languages. Such works require readers who are multiliterate themselves and are also able to understand the multiple social, political, and other associations attached to the non-dominant language.
|Keywords:||Multilingualism, Multiliteracy, Code-Switching, Code-Mixing|
Professor, Department of English and Linguistics, Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas, USA
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