Code-switching, Resistance, and Reflection: Language Awareness through Philippine Literature in English

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The status of English in the Philippines has allowed for vibrant Outer Circle (B. Kachru, 1996) creative uses of a variety. Writers of Philippine literature in English have confidently deployed the language in a rich body of literary texts portraying Philippine life, and the various realities, postcolonial or otherwise, in this context. As with other postcolonial literatures in English, there are texts that show the use of language appropriation through code-switching. Using the short story “Janis Joplin, the Revolution, and the Melancholy Widow of Gabriela Silang Street” by Philippine writer Gregorio Brillantes (2000, pp. 107–136), this paper will examine the use of code-switching as both a determiner of identity and a means of resistance. (Re)examining the use of code-switching in Philippine literature in English has implications for interrogating changing attitudes of Philippine student writers and readers toward the negotiation and use of English, Filipino, and/or Taglish in writing. Students are tasked now to reflect on their uses of the language and identify where they can locate themselves in a complex web of power, hegemony, and resistance. Doing so leads to a greater awareness of language and the messages communicated in and through it.