Code-switching in Chicano Theater : Power, Identity and Style in Three Plays by Cherríe Moraga

Abstract: The thesis examines local and global functions of code-switching and code-mixing in Chicano theater, i.e. in writing intended for performance. The data of this study consists of three published plays by Chicana playwright Cherríe Moraga.Distinguishing between code-switching and code-mixing, the investigation explores local and global functions of these phenomena. Local functions of code-switching are functions that can be seen in the text and, as a consequence, can be regarded as meaningful for the audience of the plays. These functions are examined, focussing on five loci in which code-switching is frequent and has clear local functions. The loci are quotations, interjections, reiterations, ‘gaps’ and word/language play.Global functions of code-switching and code-mixing operate on a higher level and are not necessarily detected in the actual texts. These functions are discussed, focussing on two main areas, namely power relations (addressing questions of domination, resistance and empowerment) and identity construction (addressing questions of how identity can be reflected by use of language and how identity is constructed and reconstructed by means of language).The study suggests that code-switching fills creative, artistic and stylistic functions in the plays and that code-switching and code-mixing can serve as responses to domination in that they can be used to resist, challenge and ultimately transform power relations.