Code Switching – Emily Enyedi

Code switching is a learned skill one hones with age and experience as it involves altering speech and body language according to one’s particular audience. Though some frown upon code switching, claiming it dishonest, I believe it is a necessary skill for success in modern society. I find myself code switching all the time. I speak to the kids I babysit differently than to my little brother and sister, to my friends at school differently than to my teachers, and to my employer differently than to my parents. Normally, I have no problem switching back and forth between these different versions of myself, however, things can get complicated when addressing more than one “group” or type of person at a time – the character in the Key and Peele skit, who is speaking to his wife on the phone while simultaneously trying to impress an eavesdropping stranger passing by faces this same struggle.

I grew up in a relatively conservative household. While many of my friends would talk freely with their parents about relationships and parties, these topics were taboo in my home. I reserved these types of conversations for only my close friends, and eventually their parents as I became more comfortable with them. As you could imagine, having my more liberal friends over to my house when my parents were home created some awkward code switching situations for me. My friends were all used to the outspoken and somewhat wild version of me and didn’t understand why I was acting so ‘weird’ around my parents. They were always open with me and with their families, so they saw no issue being just as open with my family as well. They would ask my mother about things she wasn’t supposed to know about like, “Did Emily tell you about what happened to her last night at Nico’s party?” when I had promised my mom that I was going to Hannah’s to study or casually mention that a classmate of ours was on drugs after I had assured my dad that there was no problems with substance abuse at my high school. I found myself in an uncomfortable position, caught between hanging out and having natural conversations with my friends at home and trying to appease and not worry my strict parents. I quickly learned that the codes “obedient daughter” and “fun friend” did not mesh, and while they are both a part of who I am, it’s hard to play both roles at the same time.

For the most part, I try to remain true to my identity regardless of who is around me. Though I may share certain things with my friends that I exclude from conversations with my parents, or use different vocabulary with my siblings than I do with my boyfriend, I’d like to think that my underlying personality is more or less the same no matter the context. Code switching isn’t always easy, and therefore must be done tactfully so as to not get into trouble with multiple and conflicting identities.

2 thoughts on “Code Switching – Emily Enyedi

  1. You did a really good job explaining not only what code switching is, but how it relates to your life. I really enjoyed reading about the specific examples of when code switching became a problem in your life. The Specific examples made the blog much more engaging than if you had just given hypothetical examples. One thing I was a little confused by in the blogpost though was how you ended it. You said that code switching wasn’t working for you, but then you ended it saying how it has to be done tactically. Therefore, it wasn’t clear to me whether you still code switch or not.

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  2. You did a great job of demonstrating how code-switching plays a role in your life. Your explanation was not only entertaining, but also gave specific and relatable examples of when you experienced code-switching. In particular, I really liked the way that you worded “awkward code switching situations.” It was a good mix of description and humor. Most of my critiques are grammar-related instead of content-related. For example, I found the opening sentence a little wordy, and I think that it would be improved by replacing your prepositional phrases and participial phrases with either action verbs or stronger adjectives. Another example is in the 5th sentence of the first paragraph, which, when corrected, reads “…versions of myself; however, things can get…” All other grammar-related critiques I have are either comma splices or fused sentences. Overall, I think you did a great job “showing” your answer to the prompt instead of “telling” your answer to the prompt, and you answered the question thoroughly.

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