Code Switching

Code Switching

October 16, 2020 Uncategorized 76

This past week as a part of #DoTheWork you were asked to read and reflect on code switching.

  • How would you explain code switching to someone who has never heard of the term before?
  • After completing #DoTheWork Day 18: Code Switching, have you noticed yourself or the people around you code switching? If yes, please explain.
  • Based on what you have learned, what is the value of code switching and what are the pitfalls for members of marginalized groups?
Please take time to respond to at least one peer’s blog post. Use this space to ask questions, challenge each other, and learn.

76 Responses

  1. Michael Averill says:

    As Chandra Arthur states in her Ted Talk, code switching is, by definition, when someone who speaks multiple languages alternates between two or more, oftentimes in the same phrase or sentence. Arthur goes on however, to describe that code switching in our society refers to the ability of a person to seamlessly transition between various forms of expressing themselves. The way I would describe the term to someone who has not heard of it before would be through the use of an analogy. Take for instance, two coworkers who are also very close friends. When discussing an upcoming project with one another, they may talk very colloquially, without putting too much thought into their off the cuff speech. When their boss appears however, to receive an update on their progress, the two coworkers would most likely transition to a much more professional style of speech, expressing themselves in a way that meets the expectations of the company. This professionalism may not be a reflection of who the coworkers truly are, but is necessary for them to convey to their boss in order to succeed at their jobs.

    On a college campus, I often see people code switching. Naturally, people are most comfortable around their friends and speak with them in a very casual way that would be unacceptable if used with professors or other figures of authority at the college. Yet, code switching goes beyond just professionalism versus colloquialism. I think a distinct difference that I have seen at Siena is between students that come from New York City and students that come from suburbs such as the counties of Long Island, Westchester, and even areas around the Capital Region such as Clifton Park and Saratoga. I remember in my freshman year during first-year-seminar when the students from New York City expressed their surprise for how different their classmates were at Siena compared to at home. New York City students quickly realized that in order to fit in at Siena, they would have to master their ability to code switch so that suburban students and professors would have a sense of comfort in communicating with them. This example is a testament to the power dynamics of a school like Siena. Even seemingly minor details such as the way we communicate with one another can reinforce who are the “standard-bearers” of the college and who is forced to adapt in order to fit in.

    I think that this dynamic at Siena undoubtedly hurts people of color on campus. During my freshman and sophomore year of Bonner, older members of the program, especially those from New York City expressed their own personal struggles with code switching. Siena did not reflect their home experiences with self-expression and communication. They said that over the course of their four years, it was a large learning curve in order to adapt to becoming a Siena Saint. Our college emphasizes diversity as a key pillar of our mission, but if we are forcing marginalized groups to become accustomed to code switching in order to succeed at the college, then are we really valuing diversity at all? I think that a campus-wide discussion on code switching, specifically through the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center could be very beneficial for the Siena community going forward.

    • Cody Romani says:

      Hey Michael! I really like your response to this discussion. I really think that Siena needs to a better job of embracing diversity on campus. I like your idea of a campus-wide discussion on code switching. People need to be accepted for who they are. I think that this will benefit the entire Siena College community and lead to more of an inclusive environment.

    • Jack McKenna says:

      Hey Michael,

      I like that you address ways in which code switching occurs on Siena’s campus. As an upperclassman you have more experience on this campus and been exposed to the issues other students may face. As well as notice patterns with these issues. Since I’ve only had one full semester on campus so far, I haven’t picked up on these issues. I’m sure other underclassmen appreciate it as well, as we care about our Siena community and want to create change here as well as in the larger community.

    • Nia Colon says:

      Hey!
      I think you really hit the nail on the head with your response! The example that you gave is really the staple to the reason why there should be a campus-wide discussion. It’s very upsetting to see that this happens not only campus wide but worldwide. I also agree that if Siena is going to use diversity as a key part of their ‘motto’ then they should at least take the time to focus on all the other aspects of diversity that are not usually addressed.

    • Jackson Regan says:

      Hi Michael,

      I agree that Siena does not do enough to aggressively deal with this issue head-on, and that more needs to be done. There needs to be an understanding that people are who they want to be and they deserve to be accepted as such.

  2. Cody Romani says:

    Code switching occurs when a person alternatives between two or more forms of language/communication. When code switching, a person often changes their expressions. Some people naturally code switch while others code switch in order to fit in.

    After completing #DoTheWork Day 18, I have noticed myself and people around me practice code switching. I participate code switching during my day-to-day conversations. I have more formal conversations with my professors than I do with my peers and family members. I am more professional around my professors. I also see students change the way they express themselves in order to fit in with a group. People should not have to change their views in order to receive acceptance from others.

    In her Ted Talk, Chandra Arthur discusses the pitfalls associated with code switching. She discusses her experiences with code switching and how she learned to act like her peers in school in other to fit in. She mentions that code switching threatens diversity. People should not treated differently because of their culture and how they look. Instead, we need to create a world where everyone is praised and accepted for their uniqueness. We need to come together and embrace diversity and peoples’ cultures.

    • Samantha Gisleson says:

      Cody, I liked how you pointed out the difference between “natural” code switching and code switching to fit in. This is something that I think is very important to point out. I also agree that people should not have to change to be accepted. It is one thing to have formal conversation with your professor and then a very informal one with a friend. However, one should not have to change their appearance or hide an accent in order to avoid making others uncomfortable. I agree that we need to appreciate our difference and diversity. I only hope that someday we can create a world where people see the value in cultural differences.

    • Kiara Woodward says:

      Cody,

      I like the way you mentioned noticing people code switching to fit in. Some of my take aways from this day of #DoTheWork is how code switching forces people in a box so they are more palatable to dominant society and culture. It is not surprising that the same thing happens on a smaller scale at Siena. Embracing the individual qualities of all people is an amazing goal for us all to strive for.

    • Mara Golden says:

      Hi Cody! I really like how you mentioned conversations with professors. I did not think about the school aspect when talking about code-switching. On top of having a face to face conversation, I also change how I talk in my emails. While talking to my professors or even service mentors, I do not speak the same way I speak with my friends.

  3. Samantha Gisleson says:

    Code switching, in simple terms, is changing your demeanor in different social settings. It is the act of switching between the different “selves” you have created for the different social spheres within your life (work, friends, family, school, etc.). Code switching involves many forms of expression, from your tone of voice, to the words you use, to the way you carry yourself. This includes how you stand, what you wear, how you style your hair, and more. When people code switch, they are still themselves, but they are altering their personas given the current situation at hand.

    One way in which I have always observed code switching is when visiting a friend’s home. How my friend acts around me and their parents is often very different, and it can be interesting to watch the switch happen live. I think that we often do not even realize we are doing it, because it becomes such a normal part of our routine.

    Although code switching is necessary in some settings; for example, how you act at work compared to how you act at home. It is valuable in this sense, meaning that we are able to adapt to different situations. However, members of marginalized groups often have to code switch much more than white members of society. As Chandra mentioned, code switching expectations can threaten diversity. Code switching can require people to “switch” in order to be culturally compatible. In this sense, they are changing who they are rather than just switching between their different selves. POC often do this so as not to appear “threatening.” This is not fair. No one should ever have to change their style, their voice, their use of language, or another characteristic in order to make a white person comfortable. People should be able to express themselves freely.

    • Chandler Edbauer says:

      Hi Sam!
      I see code switching with my friends too. I double think when I see how a person acts toward their parents and me. I find it really interesting because no one really knows each other. I think the only person who knows you is yourself. I find it interesting how you evolve with code switching as you grow up as well. I think that kids never really know their parents because they have had to code switch to being a parent and becoming a model for their children.

  4. Jackson Regan says:

    The best way I could define code switching is when someone switches their language, behavior and/or voice between different people based on their race, ethnicity, location, or occupation. It’s a very vague term that is difficult to define, and to be honest I had never heard of this until now. I’d say the biggest way I code-switch is between talking to my girl friends and guy friends. With my guy friends, especially ones from sports, I am very “masculine”: “Hey bro!”, “Wassup my dude”, and many other stereotypical guy phrases. With girls, I’m more of a conversationalist, to the point where I could go on for hours in a manner that apparently guys aren’t supposed to be capable of, stereotypically. My example however, is very shallow. With people of color and minorities, code switching, to me, embodies stereotypes. You talk to a black guy a different way you would talk to a white guy, and that pushes stereotypes.

    • Abigail Hoekman says:

      Jackson, I thought it was great that you discussed code-switching as it pertains to not only racial stereotypes but also gender stereotypes. When looking at intersectionalities and the many identities that people hold, it is important we address how our gender expression influences code-switching. It is important to look at people with all of their identities together (race, gender expression, religion, age, ability, etc.) because each identity may influence how we code-switch and the manner in which we are able to relate to those around us.

  5. Abigail Hoekman says:

    Code-switching is a skill that many people utilize without realizing it. To code-switch means to alter your speech or mannerisms in some form, whether it be the language you are speaking, the tone or pronunciation of your words, or perhaps even your body language. This often occurs subconsciously as we go about our day and interact in a variety of settings and across different groups of people.

    After completing the #DoTheWork Day 18, I have noticed code-switching in myself and those around me. Personally, I have noticed that how I speak with friends and family is much more casual in the sense that I may not use very proper language or disregard things like grammar when I am speaking casually. I feel more myself in this form of speaking where I can be witty and make jokes and express myself in a way that I am unable to during class or other professional settings. For instance, when I am in a class or at service or speaking with a superior, I often speak more “proper” meaning I pay attention to my grammar, pronunciations, and use more sophisticated words as opposed to any modern slang that I would use with friends. One issue I have found with code-switching is that if this skill is not well practice, it can get you into trouble. For example, I have tried to eliminate/ minimize swearing in my vocabulary because I found this aspect of speaking to be challenging to switch on and off during casual and professional settings. Therefore, I decided to make a more permanent change to avoid swearing in a setting where it would have been inappropriate to do so. Code-switching takes a lot of mental energy and is a skill that is practiced over time as we learn what settings and around what people certain language, speech, and behaviors are acceptable. We learn these unspoken rules through media like television and movies and simply through observation of those around us.

    I found Chandra Arthur’s story of police coming to her home with guns drawn to be particularly disturbing. This instance was life-threatening and it was only due to her many years of practicing code-switching that she was able to communicate with police that this was her home. It makes me think about all of the people of color who have been brutally murdered in their own homes or randomly on the street. Code-switching is yet another way my privilege is evident. I only have to worry about professional verse casual speech. However, even then I know I am not at risk because the color of my skin holds a lot of weight into how I am perceived by those around me in everyday life; which is a definite privilege that I have never considered as it pertains to code-switching prior to exploring the resources and prompts of #DoTheWork. I am grateful for these resources that continue to open my eyes to the privileges I hold and helping me learn ways I can leverage this privilege for the benefit of those who are born without it.

    • Marlie says:

      Hi Abby! I loved reading your discussion post. I think you did a fabulous job at explaining code switching and how you have seen it in yourself. Without practicing code switching, you can definitely get yourself into trouble, and even more so if you are a person of color. I also found Chandra’s account of police coming to her home with guns drawn to be terrifying. I agree that it was due to her ability to code switch that potentially saved her life. I do not have to worry about a situation like that and learning about it opens my eyes to additional privileges I have in my everyday life.

  6. Marlie says:

    Code switching is when an individual changes their language or dialect in conversation. After completing #DoTheWork Day 18: Code Switching, I have definitely recognized the position that code switching puts people in. I find myself doing it in a very minimal way, such as changing the way I talk to friends and family vs a professor. I see it more seriously among individuals who are forced to suppress their accent of the homeland or of a grandparent and are then seen as threatening or unprofessional due to their differences. The “value” of code switching is being able to change yourself to fit various settings. However, I see it more as a pitfall, particularly for members of marginalized groups. One of the most impactful statements during this Ted talk was, “the expectation of code switching threatens true diversity.” I think this point is so important because individuals are forced to alter themselves in order to fit into a particular situation, limiting differences in society. By practicing code switching, the speaker, Chandra Arthur, was not shot when police came to her house for a suspected burglary. This point stuck with me and has been something I have considered since doing this day of #DoTheWork.

    • Amanda Molloy says:

      Hi Marlie! I think the quote you include from the Ted talk about how code switching threatens diversity gives a really good understanding of how the societal expectation to code switch puts a burden on the people who feel forced to do it. Like you also mention with Chandra Arthur’s situation, sometimes code switching can be a matter of life and death for people which is pretty disturbing. I have also thought a lot about the impact of code switching on marginalized groups since learning about it.

  7. Amanda Molloy says:

    If someone did not know what code switching was I would explain it by saying it is when someone has to change the way they speak, like their language, or act depending on the group they are with. I feel like I do notice myself changing the way I act around different groups of people but only in the way that there might be a difference in the way that I talk to my parents versus my professors versus my friends. I think the reasons I do it, however, is different from the reasons and pressures to code switch within marginalized groups. I think one value people might see in code switching would be the ability to adapt to one’s environment but I also do not think it is healthy for people to have to change who they are based on who they are with. One thing I wrote down when doing Day 18 of Do the Work was that people should not have to tone down their culture to make others feel comfortable and I think this sums up how code switching can be a stress and disadvantage for marginalized groups.

    • Ava Bibisi says:

      Amanda, I can agree with you when you mention talking differently around parents than with friends. I find myself doing the same, but not for the same reasonings that those in marginalized groups do so. I never thought about how stressed individuals can get when it comes to code switching because to some, it could be a day-to-day occurrence. We may be getting stressed abut too much school work, or our grades, but others are stressed out about having to show their true identities. Sometimes we are part of the problem as to why individuals are code switching and can be apart of the action in limiting this stressor just by being aware of it.

    • Alexis D'Aloia says:

      I think you’re right, code switching can be stressful! I feel like we don’t talk about it much in society so we’re a bit more unaware of these issues and how it affects people.

  8. Ava Bibisi says:

    If I were to explain code switching to an individual, I’d say that it is when a person has to switch who they are through their language or actions due to the group they are interacting with. More often than not, we fall into code switching without even realizing we are doing so. After completing DoTheWork I became more apparent to these conditions and it became more noticeable to me when I saw peers having to feel this need to flip a switch and turn off who they are. Especially coming to college as a freshman, we are trying to “fit in” and make friends and sometimes we feel that putting on a face for what we need to be like is the only way to do so. In marginalized groups, individuals feel segregated and aren’t always embraced fully on their culture. Society is what makes them feel this way, and after participating in DoTheWork, I’ve realized that we need to be more accepting of all the aspects that people who are different from us have to offer. We shouldn’t look at someone and instantly think about their differences, but rather use what’s unique about each person to greater who we are as well as make them feel comfortable in their skin instead of feeling obligated to code switch.

    • Rachel Gifford says:

      Hey Ava, I really liked your comment about being a freshman in college and realizing how often people code switch in order to fit in. I also realized that I code switch a lot in my life after completing DoTheWork. I also love your comment on the importance of diversity and accepting one another for who they are.

  9. Jack McKenna says:

    Simply put, code switching refers to one’s ability to express themselves in a variety of ways, and do so seamlessly . For example, if you are talking with friends about a class you were just in, your expressions will be more geared towards your age group and less formal. Then, if your professor approaches with a question or comment, you are able to drop the familiarity and speak with them on a professional level.

    Personally, since this weeks DoTheWork, I’ve noticed myself code switching not only with who I’m talking to, but also the topic that’s being discussed. Especially around election time, there are many sensitive and heavy topics that are bound to come up. When then do, regardless of who I’m talking with, I start using proper terminology, drop the slang, annd speak as clearly and concisely as possible.

    One value of code switching is being able to communicate with many groups of people. The flip side of this is a pitfall, as Chandra Author discussed. Growing up, we all code switch as a way to fit in with our peers and not be outcasted. Unfortunately this behavior continues into adulthood and can lead to decreased diversity. The past few years, immigration has become a controversial topic that divides people in this country. For those who are strongly opposed to it, and are racist or have prejudices against people of other cultures. A common example of this I’ve seen on social media and the news is people who are speaking another language, or dressed in religious or cultural clothing, being told to go back where they come from. This puts a lot of unnecessary pressure for those people to conform, otherwise they are at risk of verbal and physical attacks.

    • Michael Averill says:

      Hi Jack! I really like how you brought immigration into this discussion. Refugees and immigrants do not have the benefit of having learned code switching in their country of settlement. Moving to another country, especially as an adult creates a huge learning curve in language, customs, and societal norms. The positive aspects of code switching such as functional professionalism and communal acceptance are heavily barred from refugees and immigrants. Interestingly enough, refugees and immigrants that are children have more success with code switching because they have a high level of exposure and adaptability through outlets such as school which help them learn the societal norms of other children their age in their countries of settlement.

    • Sarah Ahmed says:

      Hey Jack,
      I liked how you said how you find yourself code-switching when speaking about politics. I recently found that this is something that I often do as well because I want to appear informed, but did not realize I was doing it. Do you think that school from a young teaches us to code-switch and when to do it?

  10. Rachel Gifford says:

    Code switching is when a person acts differently in different situations. They unconsciously switch from one form of expression to another. An example of this could be how you act around your friends versus how you act around your teachers. There are multiple different types of code switching and even if you code switch it doesn’t mean that the way you are expressing yourself isn’t a part of your personality. For people of color they are often forced to codeswitch in order to fit in and act in a way that others expect of them. That doesn’t mean that their form of expression in front of white people isn’t a part of them, but it isn’t right that they are forced to adapt to our standards instead of being accepted for any way they express themselves. Code Switching also limits diversity and it can force people to suppress aspects of their personality in order to become like everyone else. Sometimes Code Switching is a means of survival for people of color because they may be killed if they aren’t skilled at code switching. If they act upset or don’t code switch they could be killed by police when white people wouldn’t be killed for acting in the same way. There is a double standard where people of color are expected to code switch more than white people. However, I have noticed myself code switching a lot in my life. Most of my code switching occurs when I am with different groups of people or I code switch depending upon which friends I am around. I still act like myself but at a different level. For some friends I will be spontaneous and outgoing while with others I will be quiet, and more introverted. Both aspects are still me, but I’ve learned that in certain situations I can show my full self and in others it is better if I suppress aspects of my personality. Code switching can save people’s lives, but it also leads to the suppression of diversity.

    • Nora Diede says:

      Hi Rachel, I really liked the point that you raised about how code switching can result in one suppressing their personality and limiting their own diversity to appease other people. I think that this is really true and is a really negative part of our society. When you explained how you code switch in your daily life, it opened my eyes to the idea that I also defiantly do participate in this when speaking to different groups of people, depending on how well I know them. However, I think that it is important, as you mention, that this does not mean this action is not apart of our true selves.

  11. Nora Diede says:

    The term code switching originated as a term used to describe the ways in which people who spoke more than one language would switch the language they were using to accommodate the person who they were talking to. However, now this term can be more broadly described as the way in which people with diverse backgrounds change themselves to fit in with people of different backgrounds. A perfect example of this, which is from Day 18 of the #DoTheWorkChallenge, is that someone from a different society changes themselves when going to school surrounded by people who act as a product of their own, different, society. Code switching is definitely apparent around me. This is because people very often become comfortable with their friends and family and speak with slang words and more casual pronunciations, yet they act much differently when speaking to people who they are not close with. They tend to speak with bigger words and in a much more proper tone. Code switching has also become apparent to me in the way that people act around people from different states. On campus people speak of their home societies and things from their home state very differently with people who are from their state then those who are not.

    From this week’s challenge it is clear that code switching can make a life or death difference for people. This is because there are times in which people are expected to act in a way that is in accordance with the society they live in rather than their cultural background. In the Ted Talk, Chandra Arthur, explains that when the police came to her home and assumed she was a robber because of a neighbors phone call, she had to code switch to protect her life. She had to act in a way that aligned with what the police wanted her to do, and she had to do this in a calm manner. However, if one is not able to code switch they could have been in a life threatening situation. While code switching can provide a sense of security, it is abundantly clear that it diminishes the heritage and culture of marginalized people. This is because they are expected to abandon their culture to adhere to that of someone else’s culture. This is a part of the process that is forcing diversity out of our society. Code switching lessens diversity and forcing people away from their own cultures.

    • Alexis D'Aloia says:

      Great point about it forcing people away from their own cultures. It’s interesting to think about how code switching mentally and emotionally might affect someone.

  12. Nia Colon says:

    Code-switching is when a person has to change the way they interact when with a certain group. After doing the #Dothework, I realized that I do this when I am with my family/friends versus speaking to people I am not as comfortable with. I think this occurs just because I do not want to appear unprofessional around those who I need/want to make a certain impression on. I think that code-switching is an extreme for people because if it is not done the right way it could mean death.

    • Sydney Maughan says:

      Hey Nia, I totally agree with what you’re saying about how code switching can become an extreme and can definitely lead to dangerous situations, like death.

  13. Nia Colon says:

    Code-switching is when a person has to change the way they interact when with a certain group. After doing the #Dothework, I realized that I do this when I am with my family/friends versus speaking to people I am not as comfortable with. I think this occurs just because I do not want to appear unprofessional around those who I need/want to make a certain impression on. I think that code-switching is extreme for people because if it is not done the right way it could mean death.

    • Alexis D'Aloia says:

      This made me think about how microaggressions may play a role in code switching! People may make comments about the way someone speaks or acts, which could influence code switching.

  14. Chandler Edbauer says:

    Code Switching is when a person alternates between two types of communication when the audience changes to fit in. It occurs between forms of language/communication. When code switching, a person often changes their expressions.

    After completing #DoTheWork Day 18: I have seen code switching all around me and I have done so myself. I feel like so many people are a certain type of way when important people aren’t looking. They are improper rude and harsh but when an individual of authority appears they become professional. I also feel like I do this when I want my voice to have credibility. I stop speaking friendly and start speaking so that my voice is professional and rational.

    In the Ted Talk, Chandra Arthur discusses the pitfalls of code switching. Code switching threatens diversity, people should not treated differently. These minorities have to cody switch because of their culture and how they look. We should embrace diversity and learn that code switching shouldn’t be necessary.

    • Erin Spence says:

      Chandler, I think your point about credibility is interesting. I definitely see myself doing this, especially in a more professional setting. I also think your idea about embracing diversity is really important. The reason that people feel they need to code switch is that there is a lack of acceptance of anything that differs from the norm. A more inclusive and accepting society would greatly decrease the need for code switching.

  15. Sarah Ahmed says:

    To someone who has never heard of the term before, I would describe code-switching as people who have been forced to change the way that they express themselves. Although this term originally referred to people who speak two or more languages switching between those two languages, it is seen a bit more in-depth in society. POC express themselves and their culture through what they wear, how they make their hair, how they speak, and how they present themselves overall. However, because our society does not truly accept every culture, these diverse cultures are forced to mold themselves into white society. Oftentimes, the black population does not want to do this, but they are forced to “maintain their hair”, speak in a certain way to not “seem threatening”, and in some cases change what music they listen to depending on who they are around.

    I find myself code-switching the most when I am with my friends compared to family. The way I speak and act changes drastically and that’s because I do not want to be judged by my family members for the way I speak and act even though that is who I really am.

    Code-switching prohibits marginalized groups and minorities from expressing themselves. However, by limiting themselves to white standards, America loses diversity. We need to embrace this diversity instead of condoning it.

    • Samantha Lunt says:

      Hi Sarah! I like how you have talked about the history of code-switching and recognized how it has evolved. I think it is important to realize why marginalized groups often code-switch more and I like how you focused on that, it is unfortunate that our society has these standards and people can’t just be themselves.

  16. Samantha Lunt says:

    Code-switching is when a persons switches between two types of language depending on the audience they are around. This can include the way they talk, dress, and express themselves. This change has become natural for many people, especially marginalized groups because of standards that have been put in place in society.

    After completing day 18 of #DoTheWork I have been more aware of code-switching and seeing it in my day to day life. I have noticed myself do this while engaging with different people. I teach a church school class and I notice myself talking and engaging in a more professional way, than how I might talk and act when I am with friends and family.

    The downfalls of code-switching is it limits marginalized groups from being able to be themselves and accepted how they are because of society expects them to act a certain way. It limits people from being able to be there true authentic self, it should not have to be a way of survival for people. We need to embrace diversity instead of shutting it down.

    • Alexis D'Aloia says:

      It’s so interesting how aware I’ve become of when I code switch and when others do it too now! I like how you mentioned that we need to be embracing diversity instead of shutting it down. No one should need to hide who they are.

  17. Alexis D'Aloia says:

    I would explain code switching being when people change or alter their behaviors, words, actions, etc. depending on who they are around and where they are to fit in to the given situation. Before #DoTheWork I did not know that code switching really existed, or at least that there was a term for it. I definitely notice people around me code switching and think I might do it as well depending on who I am surrounded by. It’s not done fully intentionally, it just happens sometimes to adapt to the situation. Based on what I have learned, code switching can serve as a means of “survival” in the sense that it allows people to feel comfortable and safe when in different situations. The pitfalls are that it may be preventing someone from being their true selves as they may feel like they have to fit into what society expects of them in order to succeed. I think it was in “The Hate You Give” movie that the main character talked about how she code switched when she went to school and when she was at home in order to fit in and adapt to the two different situations.

    • Abeer Jafri says:

      Hi Alexis,
      It is interesting how you brought up code switching as being a means of survival. I think it’s strange we don’t talk about this more as a society, how a simple change in behavior/speech can draw the line between life and death. It is scary to think many people would not survive if they didn’t have to have this mechanism to fit in.

  18. Abeer Jafri says:

    Code switching is when a person changes how they behave or speak depending on who they are around or what situation they are in. I didn’t realize there was an actual term for this behavior, although I have noticed it before in myself and people around me. For example, I think I and many others use more formal language when in a classroom than when casually we are casually conversing with friends. Another example is that my parents who are immigrants have to make their Indian accents less prominent when talking to non-Indians in order to fit in more to the language, even though the substance of what they are saying is just as valuable. It is interesting that the “codes” of certain cultures/ethnicities are seen as less valued or more threatening simply because they do not align to American “codes”. Going off of this, the value of code switching for members of marginalized groups is that it can help save their life if they start behaving/speaking more “American-ly” to appease authorities in life or death situations. The pitfall regarding this is that it is terrible that they should have to switch their behaviors because they can’t be accepted for having their own ways of expressing emotions. I think people in positions of authority and the rest of us in general should be educated on this topic to increase understanding and inclusivity.

    • Jonathan Limey says:

      Hey Abeer,
      I think your perspective is very interesting having known of Code-Switching or at least just witnessing it with your parents. I previously didn’t think of accents and how they in of themselves can add to this burden. I also appreciate how you note the use of formal language in classrooms. That example shows that there are good uses that aren’t extreme. However, I still think we need to be able to get to a place where, as Chandra Arthur mentioned, it is okay to say yall in the workplace.

  19. Jonathan Limey says:

    If I had to explain Code-Switching to someone who doesn’t know of it, I would very similar to Chandra Arthur in her Ted Talk. Code-Switching is the conscious decision to change your personality, speech, and/or language to fit into the community you actively with.
    After looking at my life with the knowledge of Code-Switching, I can’t think of a moment where I have done it. I have been lucky to be able to stay true to me and not care about what others think. However, I did realize that friends of mine do Code-Switch a lot in their lives. Specifically, since the #DoTheWork assignment, I have talked to a friend of mine who spends his days switching between what he describes as two personalities, one at home and one with friends. In the conversation, I was able to get a better understanding of why he lives life this way.
    Through both the conversation with my friend and #DoTheWork I have learned about the pitfalls of Code-Switching. It is an inherited skill learned for survival and nothing else. My friends said he felt like he needed to do it or something bad would happen that he doesn’t know of. Code-Switching is stopping people from being who they want to be.

    • Parker Taft says:

      I agree with what you are saying, Johnathan. That Code-switching is a survival mechanism in order for people from diverse backgrounds to better fit in with the majority, cultural views that surround them. Could we also see Code-Switching in people who straddle different socio-economic and political groups, as well as those who straddle the cultural ethnic divide?

  20. Parker Taft says:

    I would describe code-switching to someone unfamiliar with the term as the practice of self-censorship by individuals and minority groups to better conform with the culture that they are surrounded by at any particular moment. For example, a person can have a professional v voice and then an at-home voice with one sounding like that of regular mainstream society and the other filled with cultural references and or a regional accent. I have noticed that some of my peers code-switching, especially those from a different cultural or religious background in order to fit in better with their peers. The value of Code-switching is the ability to live in and navigate two diverse cultures simultaneously and reap the benefits both have to offer. But some pitfalls of this are it can make marginalized groups feel, stressed out, ingenuine and fake. As well as causing internal confusion about their own identity and what they truly believe.

    • Dana Wakeman says:

      Parker, I think you bring up a great point about how code-switching impacts the professional world. This reminds me of another day of Do the Work where we learned about professional beauty standards that penalize women of color and promote the white standard of beauty. This shows once again how ingrained these issues are in our society and we need systematic change to address them.

  21. Dana Wakeman says:

    Code-switching is when a person changes their vocabulary in a conversation in order to fit in. For example, former President Obama often received criticism when he did not code-switch. I have also noticed examples of code-switching at Siena. Siena brings together students from all over the country and people use different vocabulary with an example being some people calling water fountains “bubblers”. However, I have found that most of these vocabulary differences lead to a conversation rather than criticizing people to change the way they speak. However, it is also important to note that due to Siena being a predominantly white campus, there is likely a lot of pressure on the students of color so it is on us to create an inclusive environment that accepts people for who they are.

    • Julia says:

      Hi Dana!

      You bring up a really great point that use of certain words can prompt civil and progressive conversation. We should be open to learning about differences in language, culture, etc. Also, I agree that we must create an inclusive environment.

  22. Erin Spence says:

    As described by Chandra Arthur in her TedTalk, code switching is when a person alternates between two or more languages within one sentence or conversation. Code switching can also be a term used to describe an action that a person takes in a situation based on their surrounding environment. To code switch is to change something about yourself to fit in more with the situation you are in and the people you are around. There are definitely times in my everyday life that I code switch. The ways I act around my friends are much different than the way I act in a more professional environment. By learning from others about what is acceptable and unacceptable in each of these environments has led me to an understanding of how to act. This is true for most people as well. Having the ability to code switch can be a positive thing. It allows us to feel a certain level of comfort in many different types of situations. On the other hand, code switching also has several pitfalls, especially for marginalized groups. As Chandra Arthur states in her talk, code switching “threatens true diversity.” For marginalized people especially, entering a culture in which the majority of people live much differently, there is a much greater chance that they will begin to suppress pieces of the culture and way of living that they feel most connected to.

    • Nancy Rasmussen says:

      Hi Erin!
      I really enjoyed reading your blog post. I especially liked how you addressed what Chandra Arthur said. She addresses that society’s innate expectation for someone to automatically code-switch based on what environment they are in eliminates diversity within our world. For marginalized people, entering a culture in which the majority of people live differently, there is a great chance that they will begin to suppress pieces of their own culture due to society’s pressures.

  23. Nancy Rasmussen says:

    Code-switching is when one changes how they act around others or their vocabulary to try and fit in with others around them. After completing #DoTheWork Day 18: Code Switching, I have definitely started to notice some people around me code switching. Whether it is because they have different cultural backgrounds or political views than others, I see some of my peers acting differently around certain people. Based on what I have learned from #DoTheWork Day 18: Code Switching, I think Chandra Arthur sums it up perfectly: “The expectation of code-switching threatens diversity.” She addresses that society’s innate expectation for someone to automatically code-switch based on what environment they are in eliminates diversity within our world. This is sadly seen in many places around the world, but in my opinion, this is especially seen in the American classroom.

    • Giavanna Pitagno says:

      Hi Nancy!
      You bring up a good point with code switching based on political views. I think thats a really good and prevalent example, being an election year. I agree with you, that code switching is seen in American classrooms. I think much of it stems from the lack of diversity in education in America.

  24. Giavanna Pitagno says:

    Code switching is when a person switches the tones, speech patterns, and/or other expressions in order to better “fit in”. We see code switching in minuet examples, such as the formal nature of emails compared to shortened, informal texts we send to our friends. On the surface, it doesn’t seem that code switching is harmful. However, to many people, code switching is used to suppress their cultural backgrounds to conform to what society deems acceptable. I have noticed that I use code switching a lot in my life. However, I am lucky enough to have never been in a situation where I have had to use code switching to suppress who I am. By participating in #DoTheWork, I have learned the suppressive use of code-switching and the implications it leads to. The stress of feeling that who you are is not acceptable, and the constant pressure to be something you’re not is something nobody should have to go through.

    • Kayla says:

      Hey Gia, I liked how you addressed that code-switching can be significant in other people’s lives while it is not to others. I liked how you phrased this sentence: “On the surface, it doesn’t seem that code switching is harmful. However, to many people, code switching is used to suppress their cultural backgrounds to conform to what society deems acceptable.”

  25. Sydney Maughan says:

    I would explain code switching as the practice of alternating between language varieties or forms in conversation to adjust to new or different environments then they’re used to being in.
    After completing #DoTheWork Day 18, I have subtly noticed that people around me code switch.
    Based on what you have learned, the value of code switching is being able to maintain one’s “native language/tongue” while learning different codes/ways to speak or present yourself.
    Possible pitfalls for members of a marginalized group are not learning about code switching earlier in life or not being able to adjust yourself quickly to new environments with people you aren’t used to being around.

  26. Kayla says:

    Code switching is when a person has to verbally change the way they speak including tone and grammer. By doing this they are mentally creating an on and off switch to activate when it is “appropriate” to speak in a way that is best suited for their environment compared to another. An example of code switching would be if a person switched from speaking informal to a friend and then formal to a professor. After completing #DoTheWork Day 18: Code Switching, I noticed from past experiences I have code switched before. When I moved when I was little I began to pick up cues that were best suited when I went to school vs when I went back home or back to New Jersey from Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, I have a tendency to be very selective with my words and always be conscious of what I am saying and how I am saying it. I would always have to regulate my tone because I did not want to come off as aggressive when it was passion. When I would go home to NJ, I would have less of a filter and could be myself without any second thought. Based on what you have learned, the value of code switching is very significant to certain people. For some people it does not matter while in other situations it’s a life or death scenario. Some of thepitfalls for members of marginalized groups is that they need to be accustomed to certain societal cues and culture so that they do not stand out and blend in. If they do not get accustomed to society, they will face consequences they can not avoid and is not necessarily their fault.

  27. Julia says:

    Code switching occurs when a person changes the way they act or speak in order to meet the expectations of a particular group. I have experienced code switching at Siena and in my hometown. There are slight differences in the way I act with my hometown friends and my friends from Siena. However, I believe code switching has a larger impact on individuals from minority groups. Oftentimes, the rigid expectations of society force people of minorities to conform to the status quo. Code switching can help individuals from minorities achieve opportunities however, at a great expense. Expecting individuals to conceal who they really are can have a seriously negative impact on one’s confidence and identity. In addition, code switching is detrimental to the growth of society because it prevents diversity. I really liked Chandra Arthur’s point that rather than judging someone’s intelligence based on their use of “ya’ll” (which has nothing to do with someone’s intelligence) we should respect and support their culture evident in their use of certain words or phrases.

    • Harriet Koblenzer says:

      How would you explain code switching to someone who has never heard of the term before?
      I would explain code switching as switching between languages to fit in with a certain culture, or expectations of a group. For example someone who goes to college but most of their family members aren’t college educated may switch how they talk when they are at school and when they are home to fit in, in both settings.
      After completing #DoTheWork Day 18: Code Switching, have you noticed yourself or the people around you code switching? If yes, please explain.
      I remember Dr. Snyder talking about how Appalachian academics and writers hire speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to learn how to talk more “academically” and hide their Appalachian accents. They do this because they aren’t taken as seriously with their accent, and people assume that they aren’t highly educated.
      Based on what you have learned, what is the value of code switching and what are the pitfalls for members of marginalized groups?
      I’ve learned that the ability to code switch is a matter of life and death, and has other impacts in ones personal and professional life. Two people who have encounters with the police can have two different outcomes based on their ability to switch their language to one that fits with the dominant culture. In terms of the professional world, someone who is able to code switch may get a promotion because the company feels that they are a friendlier face and better attitude than someone who was never taught that or who opts not to do that. Although it can be an advantage to have this skill, it unfortunately forces marginalized group have to learn the language of the oppressor. They are succumbing to the power of their oppressor by learning their language. Not only that but they aren’t able to fully embrace their culture and roots by code switching, and have to live two separate lives instead of one.

    • Harriet Koblenzer says:

      Hi Julia! Really liked how you described code switching as conforming to the status quo. Good point on how it negatively impacts one identity, because they truly have to live two lives and creates a strain on that person.

    • Harriet Koblenzer says:

      Hi Julia! Really liked how you described code switching as conforming to the status quo. Good point on how it negatively impacts one identity, because they truly have to live two lives and creates a strain on that person

  28. Harriet Koblenzer says:

    How would you explain code switching to someone who has never heard of the term before?
    I would explain code switching as switching between languages to fit in with a certain culture, or expectations of a group. For example someone who goes to college but most of their family members aren’t college educated may switch how they talk when they are at school and when they are home to fit in, in both settings.
    After completing #DoTheWork Day 18: Code Switching, have you noticed yourself or the people around you code switching? If yes, please explain.
    I remember Dr. Snyder talking about how Appalachian academics and writers hire speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to learn how to talk more “academically” and hide their Appalachian accents. They do this because they aren’t taken as seriously with their accent, and people assume that they aren’t highly educated.
    Based on what you have learned, what is the value of code switching and what are the pitfalls for members of marginalized groups?
    I’ve learned that the ability to code switch is a matter of life and death, and has other impacts in ones personal and professional life. Two people who have encounters with the police can have two different outcomes based on their ability to switch their language to one that fits with the dominant culture. In terms of the professional world, someone who is able to code switch may get a promotion because the company feels that they are a friendlier face and better attitude than someone who was never taught that or who opts not to do that. Although it can be an advantage to have this skill, it unfortunately forces marginalized group have to learn the language of the oppressor. They are succumbing to the power of their oppressor by learning their language. Not only that but they aren’t able to fully embrace their culture and roots by code switching, and have to live two separate lives instead of one.

  29. Kiara Woodward says:

    I would explain code switching as changing one’s language, appearance, or mannerisms to meet the expectations of the social situation. Code switching is something that comes naturally and is so ingrained in society that it is easy to miss. I have seen code switching in the way that my friends speak on the phone to their parents versus how they speak in conversation. Code switching helps individuals navigate social situations that have different expectations and rules. It works to make sure that people are following social scripts and adhering to the norms of dominant society. Marginalized groups are expected to code switch as a means of survival. A misstep in this regard could mean the difference between life and death for a person of color. The color of a person’s skin stirs up implicit assumptions in others that they have to work to undue with how they put themselves forward.

  30. Mara Golden says:

    I would explain code-switching as one changing their true self to fit society’s standards. One could do this by changing their appearance, how they speak, and or act in public or around family and friends. I take part in code-switching every day, so do many people who work in customer service. Any time I have to answer the phone or talk to a customer, I change the tone of my voice. It is so different from how I talk with my family and friends. Looking back now, there was also a great deal of code-switching in high school in middle school. During these six years, everyone is trying to find their friend group and figure out who they are. Unfortunately, a lot of people end up changing who they are just to feel as though they fit in. A value of code-switching can help people read situations, which in turn could help them get out of an uncomfortable or unsafe situation. This can also apply to marginalized groups. Code-switching can either allow people to not act as society portrays them or they may fall into that. A person’s skin color can cause so many people to assume things about them. Unfortunately, people judge a book by its cover before they even read it.

    • Tori Mangelli says:

      I really liked the examples that you used Mara, and I mentioned the one about forming new friendships in middle and high school in my blog post as well. In particular, I thought the example of customer service as code-switching was interesting and not something I initially thought of. Code-switching can be seen negatively, but I think that perfectly exemplifies how it can be a good skill to have in a professional setting, since it allows you to relate and help the customers more effectively.

  31. Tori Mangelli says:

    I would explain code-switching as switching one’s public appearance in regards to language, looks, or actions in regards to the individual social situation. I think this is a natural process that most of us do. I like the example that Mara gave in regards to code-switching when you are trying to fit into a specific social group, such as trying to make friends in middle and high school. For me, this continued into college my first semester when I would change my attitude in regards to those around me in hopes of impressing them. Initially, my roommate and I did not get along so I would change myself in order to appease her. I believe it’s an advantage to recognize and have this still in certain situations, however, for marginalized groups, it can suppress their individuality and pressures them to conform to society’s standards.

    • ecli Vazquez says:

      Hi Tori,

      I really liked the examples that you presented in your blogs. I really how someone can see code switching when it comes to social groups. In way at times people are forced to be part of a group in which can change how person is. I also liked how you related it back to college as where code switching can be seen the most.

  32. Ecli Vazquez says:

    Code switching in definition can mean many different factors. It can be defined as someone who speaks multiple languages alternates. In addition, it can also mean the ability of a person to change their ways of expressing themselves. When explaining code switching to someone I would say the speech you hear when talking to your friends and within a professional setting. As it would lead to different speech patterns.

    This can be when looking at street attitudes as they are different everywhere.

    • Nicole Pazarecki says:

      Ecli,

      You made a great point about street attitudes. I can definitely see this when I am back home in Brooklyn and compare them to attitudes here in the Albany region. Very different.

  33. Nicole Pazarecki says:

    Code switching is when a person has different attitudes or reactions towards different people. This can be caused peoples views, personalities or lifestyles. This can be expressed through their body language, tone of voice, their opinions and their reactions to different situations. I have seen code switching personally through how my friends, family and peers speak to each other. As a result, code switching can be a can challenge because you do not know whether the person is actually being themselves.

  34. Stephanie Da Fonseca says:

    Simply explained, Code Switching is basically the switch in the way we express ourselves, depending on the situation or who is present for the conversation. An example of this would be how we interact with our classmates and peers, such as jokes and more formal language while we would not communicate in those ways with our superiors, professors and etc.
    Yes I have noticed others and myself doing this, not just in the way I/others speak but also the way we behave ourselves. Code switching is something positive in my opinion, it helps us navigate through different social situations and helps us present ourselves better in certain social situations.
    Now, looking through a different lens, code switching can be more than a tool we use for situations like talking to our bosses, it can be a matter of life and death when it comes to marginalized groups. The most common example (unfortunately) is how people of color code switch when they are in situations with people with law enforcement, but the way they react is with reason due to the horror that our law enforcement is towards people of color.

    • Maura Lynch says:

      Hi Steph! I 100% agree with you. I originally thought that this was a positive thing, because it can be for us. However, for others, it involves disregarding their personhood and as a backbone in serious situations. I have noticed this as something POC have raised awareness about on social media but never realized how my behavior can be related to it.

  35. Maura Lynch says:

    Code switching is when a person switches their tone, opinions, character, or how they present themselves in general. This can be a useful tool in situations when presenting yourself in a professional manner is needed, however I find myself and my peers doing it more often to fit in. It is easier to go along with what a crowd is doing than to start a conflict.
    For many people of color, however, code switching is used when they feel their natural behavior is not seen as professional or received well. When we all participate in code switching, while it is convenient, it can lead to POC feeling as though they need to present themselves in the same way.

    • Tristan Hunzinger says:

      Hey Maura!

      I think you did a great job of explaining what code-switching is and describing the benefits it can provide. I also think you did a great job of bringing up potential problems of code-switching for people of color. Nice work!

  36. Tristan Hunzinger says:

    I would explain code-switching as changing the language one uses in order to adapt to the social situation, setting, or conversation they are involved in. An example of code-switching might be the dialect a college student uses when speaking with a professor about a school-related matter versus the way that student speaks when they are around their friends or at a party. Code-switching can be valuable for helping someone fit in with many different social groups or know how to appropriately act in different social settings. For marginalized people, code-switching can be a mechanism used to act differently in order to hide the way they truly feel. In this instance, code-switching presents a negative situation.

  37. Lulama Nyembe says:

    I would describe code-switching as language use that changes depending on the group being addressed. Being someone who is from a different country, I think I have had to learn how to code-switch fairly quickly in order to adapt. Having friends that were brought up in culturally similar ways and friends that weren’t I also find that in those moments I have to change the way in which I communicate certain things. I have found that this has proved to be valuable in terms of adequately communicating my point in a way that the person I am speaking to will best understand. The pitfalls of this lie in the fact that you can appear disingenuous and having to switch back and forth can be exhausting. It also often tends to devalue different aspects of an individual’s identity because they have to put it aside.

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