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Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Edward Sadrai

Second Advisor

John Madden

Third Advisor

Matthew Barton

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

code switching bilingual language culture identify


This study examines the role code-switching plays in the creation of song lyrics by Hispanic Bilingual artists that feature more than one language. It points out what functions the switches fulfill and what patterns they produce. Furthermore, it also investigates whether these patterns are affected based on the matrix language of the song. The data collected comes from a variety of songs from different genres that fall under the musical term ‘Latin Music’. The data also includes artists from different geographical backgrounds and genders. The study focuses on thirty Hispanic bilingual artists that include both English and Spanish in their songs. The purpose of this study is to observe the use of code-switching by these artists and determine the frequency of each function of code-switching. The results indicate that on average, the expressive function of code-switching is the most commonly used code-switch function used by Hispanic bilingual artists. It was also found that the referential functions occurred with more frequency in song lyrics with Spanish as the matrix language. This was determined to be because of the continued incorporation of English social media words in song lyrics. In this study, the referential function did not show up at all in lyrics with English as the matrix language. Additionally, English matrix songs were found to contain more instances of code-switching than those of Spanish matrix songs. This was shown as there being an underlining desire for Hispanic bilinguals to ‘call back’ to their cultural roots, by incorporating Spanish into predominantly English songs.


I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my Chairperson, Dr. Sadrai, whose unapparelled support and belief not only in my project but also in me, from day one gave me the motivation to complete this thesis. Additionally, I would like to thank Dr. Madden and Dr. Barton for their great insight and helpful advice that aided in the improvement of this work.

Last, but not least, I would like to thank my friends and family, especially my twin, Annie E., who helped ground me and keep me on task as I navigated this MA program with all their love and support.



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