I have finally landed on a decent explanation about what it takes for our triad to communicate.
According to the definition I just looked up code-switching is “the practice of alternating between two or more languages or varieties of language in conversation,” (insert citation for Google here).
I think we are pretty darn good at this and I think this is a great skill to have. I think we work really hard to learn how to talk to other people and yet, as humans, we rest on our laurels a little and figure that once we have learned some general things about different languages ex: friendship, partnership, etc. that we are able to expertly navigate communication in all dialects of those relationships.
Well… before I get on my soap box about individualized languages, I am posting this for a reason.
I think that to some people code-switching is a bad thing. I first learned about it was as a form of self preservation when minority groups encounter privileged groups and want to make themselves appear less scary to those privileged groups. The most classic example, as a POC, that I can think of is that I might shake a white person’s hand and then fist bump or some other thing with a fellow POC.
Well riddle me this… how is self preservation a bad thing? How is making someone more comfortable a bad thing?
Let me show you what I have unpacked *opens suitcase of life*-
Code-switching is necessary and everyone does it and understanding how to use it to make sure YOU are BEING understood is something everyone I can think of values.
People ask all the time “why not use the same code for white people as you do for POC people?” the simple answer- context. I have a message I need to convey and I want to use the language of your experience to explain it to you.
Woooh there… I know this discussion is a little charged and I am not trying to alienate anyone or point fingers. I am just pointing out that this isn’t a bad thing. Here are some other code-switching examples you can ponder if this one is too much:
- explaining something to your mom v. explaining the same thing to a small child.
- explaining something to your boss v. explaining the same thing to your bestie
- explaining something to someone you know v. explaining the same thing to a stranger.
If you would like an exercise in code-switching- play the game Taboo.
The word is “mermaid” -cant say fish or human or half
Me to a stranger: A swimming half-ling, mistaken manatee
Me to my best cousin: that Disney B**** with the red hair I hate
There is a point in all this…