Code-switching and Creative Process: Pushkin’s Plans “The Guests Were Arriving at the Dacha”, “The Russian Pelham” and “In the Waters of the Caucasus”

Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates


2022, Vol. 8. № 1 (29)

Code-switching and Creative Process: Pushkin’s Plans “The Guests Were Arriving at the Dacha”, “The Russian Pelham” and “In the Waters of the Caucasus”

For citation: Holter Ju., Chepiga V. P. 2022. “Code-switching and Creative Process: Pushkin’s Plans ‘The Guests Were Arriving at the Dacha’, ‘The Russian Pelham’ and ‘In the Waters of the Caucasus’”. Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates, vol. 7, no. 4 (28), pp. 38-61. DOI: 10.21684/2411-197X-2022-8-1-38-61

About the authors:

Julia Holter, Dr. Sci. (Phylol.), Professor of English language, Catholic University of the West (Nantes, France);

Valentina P. Chepiga, Dr. Sci. (Phylol.), Professor, Departement of Slavistic Studies, Strasbourg University (France);


Alexander Pushkin’s code-switching is a particularly interesting, anachronic or historic example from the early modern period. It is established that he used French language (analytical and well-established) for planning, and the Russian language (expressive but in need for renewal and normalization) as language of textualization.

The genetic exercise proposed here will nuance the above division, pointing at the limitations of functional separations. Today, we know that bilingual writers are guided parallelly by both languages in their creative process, though their functions may be different. They are also inspired by other “voices” that constitute other creative vectors (other languages, music, images…). But can this be demonstrated for Pushkin if the majority of his survived plans were formalized in French?

The plans for three texts, “The Guests Were Arriving at the Dacha” (1828), “The Russian Pelham” and “In the Waters of the Caucasus” (1831), display abundant cases of code-switching between Russian and French, as well as between writing and drawing. We will endorse Youri Lotman’s vision of code-switching as “auto-communication” on different channels (linguistic or not) to show how the ideas bouncing off the linguistic units, but also sparking thanks to the mnemonic function of drawings, establish a current, and a creative tension between different channels of auto-communication.


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