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Hey Ladies,

Do you ever find yourself switching from one language to another, say English to Spanish, as you think, speak or write? This is called code-switching, a phenomenon often experienced by multilingual persons.

However, today a much broader conversation is being had about code-switching. It looks at the ways we speak differently in our professional lives, with our parents, our friends, a specific group, etc. We may be saccharine, proper, and compliant on the phone with our bosses only to hang up and be sour, argumentative and a perpetuator of bad grammar when we speak to our friends or parents. Doctors and nurses may speak in a very specific jargon*, using medical terminology that their average patient will not understand. Or take for instance a specific group or community like the black community where certain phrases and manner of speaking are used that aren’t encountered elsewhere. The best example of this is found in President Obama, a professional who speaks a certain way when in the Oval Office, yet walks into a chili restaurant in the historically black D.C. and tells the black cashier “Nah, we straight” when asked if he needed change.  

Code-switching is certainly an interesting phenomenon, and one that is indicative of the many roles we play in life. It can be exhausting to have to juggle these different personas, or relieving to be given the chance to act in different ways.

Where have you experience code-switching in your life, and what are your thoughts on it?

*(the language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade profession, or group, ex: Medical Jargon) –dictionary.com  

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