On playful language divergences. Code-switching among Spanish-Portuguese bilinguals


  • Ana M. Carvalho Universidad de Arizona, Estados Unidos
  • Katherine Christoffersen Universidad de Texas Rio Grande Valley, Estados Unidos

Palabras clave:

code-switching, discourse analysis, humor, Portuguese, pragmatics, Spanish


Uruguayan Portuguese, a variety of Portuguese which occurs in contact with Spanish in northern Uruguay along the Uruguayan-Brazilian border, has been perceived to be a mix of Portuguese and Spanish, in which speakers are either unable to separate languages or engage in code-switching for pragmatic purposes. Here, we analyze in-group communication using visual and verbal data extracted from video recordings of conversations among bilinguals in northern Uruguay, in order to investigate whether all language mixing is random or if speakers engage in pragmatically meaningful code-switching. We identify instances where Portuguese was inserted into Spanish segments with the intention to shift the frame from serious to non-serious, and offer a sequential analysis of code-switches which, together with gestures and prosody, clearly function to perform irony, sarcasm, disparagement, and teasing. This analysis illustrates how speakers draw on their bilingual repertoire to enact playful roles, adding to previous literature that has shown that despite prolonged bilingualism, the distinction between cognate languages is available for the manipulation of discourse functions, such as the construction of humor.


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2022-07-31 — Actualizado el 2023-05-03




Cómo citar

On playful language divergences. Code-switching among Spanish-Portuguese bilinguals. (2023). Semas, 3(6), 31-56. https://semas.uaq.mx/index.php/ojs/article/view/116