Faculty Publications

Title

Bilingual tricksters: Conflicting perceptions of bilingualism in the informal labor economy

Document Type

Article

Keywords

Bilingualism, Borderlands, Day laborers, Language brokers, Tricksters

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Language and Communication

Volume

58

First Page

107

Last Page

117

Abstract

This article explores the value of bilingualism in the informal labor economy by analyzing how Latin American immigrants in the United States draw on their language abilities when asserting their socioeconomic positionality as workers. Bilingual day laborers in the U.S.-Mexico border region cultivate bilingual identities through their work as language brokers in ways that augment their social status and facilitate employment. Yet, despite the perceived advantages of bilingualism for day laborers, their monolingual Spanish-speaking peers often evaluate bilinguals unfavorably—as tricksters—because of their ability to communicate in Spanish and English. Ultimately, by exposing the benefits and burdens of bilingualism for day laborers in the border region, this article describes the intersection of the social and economic contours of language contact.

Original Publication Date

1-1-2018

DOI of published version

10.1016/j.langcom.2017.08.002

Repository

UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa

Language

en

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