CODE-SWITCHING IN POPULAR MUSIC

Bilingual musicians and song writers exploit the creative capacities afforded by code-switching to push artistic boundaries and to bolster their messages. In Japanese and Korean popular music (J-Pop and K-Pop), English is mixed to assert “a new identity” and to represent “a discourse of resistance” (Lee, 2004; Moody, 2006; see also Chapter 2). Lee (2004: 429) argues that English mixing in K-Pop enables Korean youth “to challenge dominant representations of authority, to resist mainstream norms and values, and to reject older generations’ conservatism.” Kachru (2006: 227) states that in popular songs in India, mixing Hindi with English offers

additional opportunities to express social and political commentary, employ fresh metaphors, imagery, and rhymes, and represent what is increasingly a familiar theme—that of the expatriate NRI (Non-Resident Indian) from the West visiting or returning to India with an affluent life style, and often skewed values.

Omoniyi (2006) shows that code-switching is also common in Nigerian hip- hop music, where Yoruba, Standard English, and Pidgin English are frequently mixed to express a new hybrid identity and to reconcile the conflicting demands of globalization and localization.

While code-switching is typically carried out by bilingual artists, not all code-switching is done by those who are proficient in the languages involved. Sarkar & Allen (2007) state that Quebec rap lyrics often include inserts from languages in which the rappers do not have functional competence. One of the local rappers they interviewed, SP, makes extensive use of words and phrases from Haitian Creole in his raps despite his partial grasp of the language. Originally from upstate New York, SP was raised in Quebec by Congolese parents:

I speak Creole if I have to. It’s like, sometimes, people just think I’m Haitian and ... I’ll just answer, like, Yes, No, or ... But I understand, ’cause I grew up with a lot of Haitians .... Their parents used to talk to me in Creole.

(Sarkar & Allen, 2007: 125)

Sarkar & Allen (2007) explain that since Haitians form the largest single group within Quebec’s Black community, non-Haitians who wish to belong to this community use Haitian Creole to participate on an equal footing with Haitians. As Sarkar & Winer (2006: 189) point out, these “crossings” into other people’s languages (see also Leung et al., 1997) “are fundamentally linked by a positioning of multilingualism as a natural and desirable condition, whether or not everything is then comprehensible to everyone.”

 
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