Code-Switching Revision

Dear Mom and Dad,

I hope you guys are doing well at home.  I still miss home a lot.  I have had a great time transitioning into Emory’s community, culture and education.  I have not been going out as much since schoolwork started picking up.  I hope you are happy to hear thatJ.

So what prompted me to write this letter is my recent lesson in expository writing about code-switching.  Code switching basically is the act of changing one’s speech around different people and settings.  I was introduced to the topic in class, and I read two on it titled, “Five Reasons Why People Code-Switch,” and “How Code-Switching Explains the World.”  You guys are welcome to google the articles if you want after reading this letter, but I suspect you will grip a good concept of code-switching by then.  This letter format will allow me to express a well thought message while having no interruptions.

After I read about the topic, I was intrigued and wanted to observe myself in the act of code-switching, since it sounds intrinsic and natural of a person to talk differently around different people.  For example, when talking to teachers or older, respected people, I address them by their known surname or by sir or ma’am, and I speak in complete sentences, excluding any slang, while using proper English.  When meeting new people and friends, which I have been doing much of, I am mindful and polite.  My English is not as proper, and my sentences may not be full.  I crack appropriate jokes, avoiding the offensive jokes I use at home.  I comfortably call people my age “dude” and “man.”

So you guys get the gist by now; everybody code switches and it is not necessarily a bad thing.  Then I started thinking about how you guys raised us kids, and boy, my memories produced unpleasant thoughts.  We all love you guys to death; we know you only want the best for us, but the way you guys treated us “failures” compared to the way you talked to us “achievers” was completely unfair.

You guys measure your kids by the level of their success in school, which has to be the very best. Don’t get me wrong, we know you still love us all equally, but sometimes, it’s hard to believe.  Let’s talk about Thao and Viet.  It is obvious that in your guys’ eyes, Viet has always been a winner; he done great in school his whole life, and he was always studying his ass off.  On the other hand, Thao was a fuck up, because he always struggled in school while he partied and went out a lot, although, he is successful now with a family of his own as a civil engineer.

To be blunt, Viet was favored over Thao, and it was obvious to the kids in the family.  Even I could see if when I was eight or so while they were in high school.  You guys would be so sweet and sympathetic when talking to Viet.  You would ask him where he’s going when he’d leave the house, and you’d greet him respectfully when he came home.  You would smother him with affection and love, calling him endearing names all the time.

However, when you guys interacted with Thao, every other conversation would consist of you harshly lecturing him about how he needs to study more, do his chores, and ultimately, be more like Viet.  Your tone and vocabulary towards him was snarling and disrespectful even when he was doing nothing wrong at that moment; it was just natural for you to talk to him like that.  You’d yell at him every time he went home late, suspecting that he was partying even if he came back from the library.  You’d constantly use curse words to address him.  This really made him feel like shit, abandoned, hated.

I guess I am telling you this because I think you should know about this, and if you see fit, you should apologize to Thao.  He doesn’t resent you guys, but it would be liberating.  You guys are great parents, nonetheless, I wouldn’t trade you for anything.


Anh Nguyen


One thought on “Code-Switching Revision

  1. Wow; that took an unexpected but very convincing turn. Aside from a few typos, my main suggestion would be to make a clearer connection between what you accuse your parents of doing and the idea of code-switching. It’s clear that they’re associated in your mind, but they’re not exactly the same thing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s