Spanish-English code-switching is a prevalent and significant form of communication in bilingual and bicultural communities. Authors who wish to reflect and validate cultural and linguistic diversity in their written works may incorporate code-switching in their texts. The purpose of this study is to explore the growing trend of the inclusion of the Spanish language in English-based books written for children in the United States. In order to better understand how code-switching is utilized by authors of varying Spanish language proficiency, fourteen non-native Spanish speakers were surveyed and seventeen examples of their children's books that include Spanish-English code-switching were analyzed in regards to the type of code-switching present and the ways in which Spanish words were made accessible to the reader. Several patterns emerged through the exploration of these seventeen books. While all authors surveyed used a variety of ways to incorporate and define the Spanish language in their English-based texts, evidence suggests that those authors with more advanced language capabilities tended to do so in a more complex and integrated way through the use of varied grammatical entries and the addition of code-switched sentences and phrases. Nevertheless, overall the majority of code-switches from English to Spanish were isolated nouns, many of which were familiar words or cognates that have become a part of the vernacular in the United States. Loan words and borrowings that have made their way into the English language also accounted for a significant portion of the Spanish included in the books of this corpus. The analysis also revealed some examples of overgeneralizations of Spanish-speaking communities despite the variety of themes and Spanish vocabulary that were present in the selected books. To illustrate the point: in the seventeen books studied, there was a frequent appearance of desert-themed settings and characters of Mexican descent, two common features of the books in this study which do not reflect the geographical and ethnic diversity of Spanish-speaking communities neither in the United States nor around the world.
Date of Degree
Master of Science (MS)
Arts and Humanities
Vasatka, M. R. (2013). Patterns of Spanish-English Code-Switching in Children's Literature in the US: The Use of Español in Books Para Niños [Master’s thesis, Minnesota State University, Mankato]. Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/255/
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