Date of Project


Document Type

Honors Thesis

School Name

College of Arts and Sciences



Major Advisor

Dr. Kathryn West

Second Advisor

Dr. Dominique Clayton


There exists a multitude of definitions and concepts that describe the movement between and from one linguistic code to the next, commonly referred to as code-switching. Each definition given differs not only between fields of research but also within said fields of research, making it incredibly difficult to create one unified definition for code-switching. The two most popular fields of research that have extensively studied code-switching are sociolinguistics and literature/literary studies, with both fields having basic tenets of study that create different nuances in how code-switching is described by researchers in each respective field of study. One of the key differences between how both fields of study define code-switching is that literature/literary studies attempt to show mental representations of linguistic purpose in code-switching, meaning that the speaker’s intent is centered within literary conversations as opposed to sociolinguistic conversations. This proposed difference is used to examine how indigenous writers, like Louise Erdrich, use literature to display the purpose behind their code-switching and other linguistic choices. This paper primarily explores how Erdrich’s use of the Ojibwe language displays the evolving purpose behind her code-switching within three of her major works: Love Medicine, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, and The Plague of Doves. By using a literary understanding to explore Erdrich’s use of code-switching, it becomes clear how Erdrich enacts linguistic agency within said works to provide a deeper meaning to her linguistic choices and her overall narratives.