Judith Ortiz Cofer and Aurora Levins Morales: The Construction of Identity through Cultural and Linguistic Hybridization
Juanita Rodríguez Betancourt
Universidad del Turabo
This investigation examines how the Third Space of enunciation as defined by Homi Bhabha as an “in between space” that carries the load of cultural meaning, becomes the site to negotiate and construct identity through cultural and linguistic hybridization in Judith Ortiz Cofer’s Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood and segments written by Aurora Levins Morales in Getting Home Alive. Ortiz Cofer and Levins Morales construct Diasporican hybrid identities in a transnational context through their use of language and cultural expressions. The Third Space of enunciation becomes the site of cultural and linguistic exchanges, struggles, negotiations, and ultimately acceptance of their hybrid selves.
In this space, readers witness an intra-cultural dialogue between the competing cultures and within these exchanges and negotiations; language is utilized as a means of expression and is intentionally or unintentionally employed. Although Ortiz Cofer and Levins Morales write in accurate Standard American English, their writings are infused with Spanish words and expressions. The use of these words and expressions provides a link to their memories of their Puerto Rican cultural and linguistic capital. A close examination of the use of these culturally charged Spanish words or phrases reveals interesting details that include providing translations, code-switching, linguistic calques, or omissions of their meanings altogether as a technique to privilege the bilingual reader and perhaps penalize the Anglo reader’s lack of knowledge of Puerto Rican linguistic and cultural capital.
ISBN 9783862887125. LINCOM Studies in Language and Culture 03. 262pp. 2016.