Faculty Publications

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English Language and Literature | Fiction | Latin American Literature | Modern Literature


This essay explores Junot Díaz's only full-length novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, through the theoretical lens of sociolinguistics and examines the ways in which Díaz has attempted to overcome the publishing industry's complicity in maintaining the nation's ethnocentric expectations in regards to English as the only acceptable language of publication. By introducing the work of several sociolinguists into the discussion, examining the use of African American Vernacular and “nerdish” alongside the Spanish, and reviewing Díaz’s relationship with his editors, I provide a more nuanced reading of the ubiquitous code-switching throughout Oscar Wao and suggest that beyond creating a simplistic insider-outsider binary, layers of meaning are created for each individual reader.

Document Type

Published Version


This article is the publisher-created version, also considered to be the final version or the version of record. It includes value-added elements provided by the publisher, such as copy editing, layout changes, and branding consistent with the rest of the publication.

Original Citation

Rachel Norman
"A bastard jargon": Language politics and identity in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
South Atlantic Review, 2016, volume 81, issue 1, pages 34-50



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