In Mr. Block's english class we had to write a language autobiography. In a language autobiography, the author talks about different aspects of language in their lives or family's lives. They also talk about the struggles language brings and the hardships or joy it can bring. Language is a powerful tool. Behind every person's language or dialect is a story. With that said I hope you take the time to listen to mine.
My language autobiography is about the term code switching, what it means and how often we subliminally code switch. My process was pretty sketchy for a various reasons. I felt like i didn't have a unique story because i was born and raised in America and I speak standard english fluently. Therefore, I had trouble finding an initial concept to write about. By the end i think i did pretty well. I did well with my conclusion and explaining moments in time vividly.
The Autobiography "Code Switching"
I remember like it was yesterday. Picking up my cousin from his rural home in Delaware. I remember seeing fields of grass, single homes and cul-de-sacs. “Call Eric and tell him were outside!” said my mom. I picked up my phone and called “We’re outside bro.”
My cousin walks outside with his bags ready to go. “Yo Eric!” I yelled “ Did you hear about that new jawn by Young Savage?” “What’s a jawn bro you must have forgotten I’m from Delaware we talk nothing like you guys do” said Eric.
We made our way to the family reunion in Cape Cod. On our way there we spent a lot of time talking about the mannerisms or “Philadelphians” as he would say. The crazy part is that his whole family is from Philadelphia but he just has been away to long.
“Ok, as you know some of my cousins drawl heavy” I said not thinking about my dialect. “Drawl? Come on man didn’t we just go over this.” Eric said jokingly “I can tell what you mean by the context of what you say but I don’t fully understand.” We just sat back and laughed it off. But in the back of my mind it made me think deeper. I never noticed how many “characters” can be played by one person.
The correct term is code switching. As the ride got longer I thought to myself. I would never talk to any of my teachers, principals or bosses using slang. So why do I use that dialect with others? Is it to fit in? Is it to impress? I couldn’t think of the exact reason but I just knew it was something I should look further into.
We arrived at the hotel ready to check in. “Time to wake up guys were here!” My mom yelled. On our way upstairs to check out our room we see my cousin Dior. “Follow me all of the cousins have our own room!” she yelled. We ran up ready for the fun that awaited us.
As I got to the top of the stairs I saw my grandmother with a few bags. With the sweetest voice I asked, “Hey, do you need any help with those bags grandmom?” “No, I’m okay honey. How is school?” she asked. “It’s not good but I’ll make it better when I’m ready.” I responded. “ You have always been that way and need to change boy. Well now isn’t the time to be worrying about it so go have fun with your cousins.” She said and walked away.
I guess looking back at the whole situation it made me realize the answer to all my questions about “code switching.” It is a form of identity and who you are or at least who you make yourself out to be. By the way you speak can often tell where you’re from, the people you hang around and want to be with. We often switch to a more proper dialect when talking to authorities to show that we are proud to be who we are, have a great education and are ready for the challenges ahead of us. I even went deeper thinking about different people in my life. A coach gets a point across by yelling and being assertive. I’m sure he or she wouldn’t be like that with his or her significant other. Simply because there is a place and time for everything. Code switching is more than just the words you say its how you say it and how you carry yourself overall. It’s more than language it’s the lifestyle you choose to portray to the people around you in order to be accepted.