Do you code-switch?

Wikipedia defines code-switching as when a speaker alternates between languages or language-varieties, in the context of a single conversation. Informally though, we conceive of code-switching as being more than speaking in different dialects in one conversation. It could entail speaking one way around people in your community and speaking another way around people outside of it. It is a lot more than just language; it also involves mannerisms, the kinds of jokes you’re making etc. In the United States, code switching is very common among people of color.

I, because of my hybridity – growing up in Nigeria, but now being through-and-through Americanized, having chosen into an innocuous assimilation – am accused of code-switching to the max. Basically when I’m in a space where both my Nigerian and American friends are present, I can in the space of ten seconds go from a thick, slang-infused Nigerian accent to a laid-back American one and back. I find that even outside of accents and slang, when I’m with a group of friends, I act differently towards each and every one of them.

I’m curious: does anyone else find that they’re switching codes depending on the context and on the people they’re with. If so, why? What causes you to adapt and re-adapt your language and manner? Do you find it advantageous or not so?

Post Submitted by Kanyin


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