Comic performance and the articulation of hybrid identity

Alexandra Jaffe

Abstract

This article describes how comedians and radio professionals in Corsica draw on a bilingual linguistic and metalinguistic cultural repertoire. In the context of Corsica’s history of language domination, language shift, and linguistic revitalization efforts, many of the products of language contact - mixed codes and compentences - are socially stigmatized. In the logic of dominant language ideologies, these mixed codes do not ‘count as’ language and depreciate individual speakers and collective identitities. Comic performances, it is argued, derive part of their tension and effect from the dominant view of languages as fixed and bounded codes which index single identities. Yet at the same time, performers make use of bilingual repertoires in ways that validate mixed language practices and identities. They do so by making maximal use of fluidity and indeterminacy in speaker stances towards mixed codes and identities. Bilingual comic performance also validates mixed codes and identities by evoking an ‘expert’ bilingual audience.

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