International Journal of Arts and Humanities

Viewing Options:  View Full Article - PDF     Download Full Article - PDF

Bilingual Modes of Languaging in Espaillat’s Poem “Bilingual/Bilingüe”

Amado SA


Corresponding Author:  Amado SA: Received: 27/12/2022 | Accepted:  1/1/2023  Published: 14//1/2023


Abstract: Bilingualism or multilingualism is a phenomenon spread throughout the world. It is hard to think of monolingual speakers or ‘monocultural’ people in this globalised world. The aim of this paper is to describe the interaction between two codes (English and Spanish) and the struggle of being ‘bilingual or multicultural’ in NY, USA through the poem ‘Bilingual/Bilingüe’ by Rhina Espaillat. The poet was born in the Dominican Republic and emigrated to NY in the 1940s because of Trujillo’s military dictatorship that was taking place in her homeland. The poem, which seems to be autobiographical to some an extent, describes through the use of a ‘code-switcher’ or a bilingual narrator not only the place that each of the languages-English and Spanish- had in her life but, also, her relationship with her father and his ‘views’ on bilingualism. In order to carry out the present study, it would be necessary to deal with certain sociolinguistic concepts such as bilingualism and multilingualism, translanguaging, code switching and diglossia. Other interrelated notions will also be described such as the notion of speech community, culture, the connection between language and culture through the Sapir- Whorf hypothesis and the notion of identity. These concepts will help us understand the intricacies and subtle hidden meanings of this poem and will therefore shed light on this paper.


Keywords: Bilingualism, Multilingualism, Translanguaging, Speech Community, Identity, Code Switching, Culture