Jaytalking in the Streets of Bordeaux

  • Jeni Peake Department of Anglophone Studies, University Bordeaux Montaigne
Keywords: hybridity, street art, identity, language, Graffiti

Abstract

The term jaytalking is used to define the many forms of urban inscriptions: from stickers, posters, and tags, to graffiti and street art (Merrifield 2002). When the population takes to the streets they express their true feelings (Bushnell 1990). Authentic jaytalking is powerful and reveals contemporary thoughts and feelings (Brown 1995). The word jaytalking epitomises the rebellious nature of urban inscription. It is dangerous, risky, and is written in the public domain. Not only is the act of writing in a public place rebellious, but more often than not the content is also rebellious. Common themes include critiques of the status quo, challenging cultural values, and condemnations of governing bodies. This paper identifies a third means of rebellion: linguistic rebellion. Youths often use language to express and align themselves with their respective communities of linguistic practice (Wenger 1999) and young French citizens are no exception, as instances of English inscriptions can be found throughout the country. This paper identifies English and hybrid urban inscriptions found in urban spaces in the city of Bordeaux, France. Through analysis of the corpus, I aim to understand to what extent the use of English might be understood as a political, rebellious and creative act.

Published
2021-01-28