Literary Codeswitching: Emphasising a Hybrid Identity in Diana Abu-Jaber’s Arabian Jazz

Huda B. Al-Matrafi


Codeswitching has been quite prevalent in the literature of multicultural communities (Lipski, 1982, p.192). However, it does not seem to be widely used in the literature of Arab-Americans living in the USA. Despite this fact, it has recently been an important literary aesthetic tool of Arab-American fiction. This study focuses on the use of codeswitching in Arab-American fiction that reflects not only the mingling of two languages, but also the blending of two opposed cultures one from the East the other from the West. It introduces how the use of Arabic words in English texts announces a bicultural identity and how such technique has recently become the sine qua non of some Arab-American fiction. Hence, this paper explores the use of codeswitching in the major literary work of one prominent Arab-American writer, Diana Abu-Jaber, in the novel Arabian Jazz (1993). It illustrates how Abu-Jaber, who is an Arab-American pioneer in her use of codeswitching, represents the Arab-American hybrid identity and how, through it, she breaks genre boundaries and aesthetic norms to create her own race’s hybrid space of bicultural interaction.

Keywords: Arab-American Literature, Diana Abu-Jaber, Literary Codeswitching, Identity, Hybridity.

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