Code Switching\

Food For Thought: Is Code Switching a Cop-out On Culture?

It’s the oldest trick in the book for those of us out there who have to consciously balance our ratch…I mean, not so professional ways and “proper” dialect in the 21st century — code switching.

Oh!, so y’all want to act like y’all don’t code switch? Growing up we called it using our white girl voices. As we got older, that transformed into your office or professional voice. Wikipedia defines code switching as the process of switching between two languages, but it is also recognized as switching between various dialects as well.

Recently, while talking with a friend we discussed the paradox of code switching. We switch our dialect to sound more professional, while if other cultures interchanged their normal way of speaking to talk like us, it’s a mockery. What kind of a** backwardness?!

In our day-to-day lives most of us run into a variety of different cultures; Black, White, Yellow, Red, alladat. Personally, my African-American vernacular can only take so much suppression before she starts dying to get out. So, just what happens when we interact with these people on a day-to-day basis as well? I’ll tell you all how my day goes…

A Buggs Life: Code Switching

6:30AM insert morning music of some sorts, preferably UGK

8:15AM-6:30PM Around this time I am in the office, where I can not comfortably talk about or sound like Pimp C who was just rapping in my ear. Sometimes, I try to sneak in a little of my music into the workday, but that ended badly when I answered the phone in my AA vernacular and the person on the other end had to ask if they dialed the right number. O_O

6:45PM Queue my “ratchet” music and my African American vernacular!

In actuality, for a big chunk of the day we are in a way suppressing our “real” self for the sake of our professionalism. Is this a cop-out? Or are we just successfully working the system?

Take note to whom I think is the code switcher of the century, Ms. Nene Leakes. The girl has worked her way up in such a skillful way. When you listen to what she sounds like on Real Housewives of Atlanta and compare it to what she sounds like in an interview, you will GET your life and learn a little something too!

Whether you like or agree with it, it is necessary. Being grammatically correct and sounding like your’re on your sh#& will take you places even if you feel like you’re not fully recognizing your culture 24-7.

I want to know what y’all think. Do you have to code switch daily? Does it even bother you, or am I trippin?

Feature Photo courtesy of Prentice Hall Alpha-Books

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  • Kelsey Handler

    I found your blog! :)
    Nice post! We discussed code switching a lot in my linguistics courses. Def an interesting topic!

    • Krystal

      Hey Kelsey! Glad you found the blog and liked the posts!!

  • Rosay

    I have to start of by saying I love love love the blog!!

    Great post! I definitely agree that code switching is necessary in the professional world in order to be taken seriously. It is somewhat disheartening that “our” way of speaking has culturally taken a negative connotation and sometimes considered ignorant. I’m tired of monitoring my speech 9am to 5pm, 5 days out of the week for fear of being stereotyped! I feel your pain sista, hang in there! Lol