Code Switching Analysis
Learning about language is an interesting endeavor, it requires humans to go back to realizing how they are able to communicate with one and other. Personally, I do not think about language all that much as I go about my day, but the reality is that language impacts everything we do and the way we practice that goes along with it. This can be known as a discourse, a discourse is as described by Swales as the things that go into our writing that have an effect on the way we ultimately communicate. Discourse can be seen as the intricacies of language, such as tone, mood, body language, environment etc. In learning about the way I spoke I discovered how I am a code switcher, code switching is when we go from different forms of tone without even realizing that we are making a switch. I thought that I was able to see this by just simply thinking of how I speak with my sister and how I speak with my friends. Right there I knew there was a big difference. It not only showed me how I speak and how different my tones can get, it showed me how I am also subconsciously reserved around certain people when it comes to personal details. The same can be said for anyone, but I never made the connection to language and it makes a lot more sense now.
I did my data collection so far over 4 days. In those 4 days I had class, was with friends, and family. The first two days were a Saturday and Sunday. The first day was interesting because it was the day I went to sell my car, I found myself talking with my friend as we drove out to the guy who was buying my car. Then I went on to code switch from the speech used in talking with my friend to the guy buying my car. After that I went out that night with my mom and sister, I noticed I code switched again for discretion purposes. Then that night I went out with friends in the city, I code switched again. The next day was a Sunday and I went out with my dad to a sports bar in Bayside, NY to watch the Dolphins game. Then the next two days were over my trip to Buffalo to visit my family. Those days were full of travel and spending time with family, however I noticed that my discourse with family did not change much from my friends. The data collection showed me that I have 3 main discourses (types of speech) that I use daily depending on the situation. The thing that separates my form of speech is the formality that I exercise depending on the environment and that is my main hypothesis from my data collection.
Over a period of four days, I recorded the instances where I was socializing with other people in order to further understand the various discourses of my personal rhetoric. This was done in order to see whether I spoke the same when around different people, ex. is my rhetoric the same around my friends and my family. The four days in which I recorded my conversations were Saturday, Sunday, Thursday and Friday. When I was having conversations I would look for things in my train of thought that dictated the way I spoke. For instance when I was with my friends my rhetoric was a lot more “slang” and my cussing was more frequent. However, in school and around my family my rhetoric was a lot more conservative and reserved. I found that my awareness of my own code switching without this project was very limited, however since paying attention to these types of things I see what makes me speak the way I do, and setting and audience have more than a little do with it. I told my family about the project as I was recording the conversations.They felt that they too did not notice their own code switching, however they agreed that it could play a bigger role in their life than they thought previously.
I think that my research revealed a lot to me about code-switching, while I felt that at times it was difficult to be in a situation where I was not speaking I figured it out. There were times when I was traveling on the train and when I was surrounded by people I did not know, I found myself totally silent in these times, I would have reflections about how attached I am to my phone like everyone else on the train. Next, I felt that my findings were important to showing me how I formulate decisions on my language choice based on who I am around. The data showed me that I do not care about how I talk in front of my cousins and friends but how I am around family is different. I think that individualistically its important to keep different facets of life in different levels of formality in order to have the best possible reciprocation of respect. The thing that limited my research the most was the times where I was with family and not really talking because I was not exactly comfortable in the situation, my Uncles were around at times and are very strict and conservative so its hard to say the right things in those situations. I think my silence however, was my way of communicating my relationship to the topic being discussed. The topic itself isn’t significant its the fact that I chose to be silent instead of engaging. In this respect I see how my data shows me about my language choice as a person.
- Lowi, R. (2005). CodeSwitching: An Examination of Naturally Occuring Conversation. University of California Berkley . Retrieved 2017
Summary: This article evaluates the process of code-switching. It describes code switching as a process where an individual goes back and forward using different languages and tones to communicate. He shows that the “bi-lingual” notion of actually knowing two languages is not necessary to fulfill this case study. She also looks at tone and ambition, as in what is this person trying to show me through her language, is something being said in a certain way to show me how severe it was? Things like tone show significance and she proves this through her study.
Evaluate: This article is a useful tool to in preparing my own research, however, I do not speak two languages. Although there are practices that the author shows, like for instance when a person is speaking to you in a certain tone they could be revealing the value they apply to that situation. Every human being is different which makes this case interesting. How is the information which is based on language, subject to change based on the individual? That would be my own challenge to her research model. I could apply some of her practices to my paper, but it seems she based it heavily on the bi-lingual element.
- Lysicott, J. (Writer). (2017). I am Articulate. Live performance in New York, New York.
Summary: This is a poem about a woman who talks in different forms of tone based on the people she is around at a certain time. She says she has a tone for school, when she hangs around her neighborhood, and for her family. She talks about how she faces adversity in the form of critique when she speaks in forms of broken English, she is of African American descent and talks about how she was forced to speak English and that she doesn’t care how “society” wants her to speak. She talks further about how she loves the way she speaks because she is able to be articulate on every level she talks to people on, IQ level does not matter to her, the accomplishment is being able to articulate to every level on intellect.
Evaluate: I learned a lot from this piece, even though at first I found it to be hard to follow and informal. After reading the transcript, it flows a lot better and its much easier for me to see what she was going after. She is trying to show how she speaks different forms of English, some formal, some broken, because she talks a wide range of people who do not all speak the same way. I can use a lot of the examples she gives when talking about how naturally she “code-switches” and shows how she really does face adversity when people point out how she talks. I found it important that she showed why she spoke the broken English: because the English, people want her to speak is the same language that was forced upon her ancestors during slavery in Africa.
- Gee, James P. “Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics: Introduction. “Journal of Education” 171.1 (1989): 5-17. Print.
Evaluation: This article was really engaging in my perspective. I did not know about the many “intricacies” go into language and how humans go back and forward between language types without even realizing. I feel like this article is useful to my project because I will use the examples he shows in explaining primary and secondary discourses as primary tools for language. The examples will further show how language is more of an expression of belief or passion than anything else, which is my goal. Even though it may seem like humans communicate almost systematically these days, I think that our overall language is shaped by those who surround us.
Summary: Gee points out that language is much more than the common label of “grammar”, after reading this it seems as if his definition is passion-related. Further he has great concern with how people perceive the “discourses” around language, he says that discourse are the variables that go into shaping our rhetoric. The choices we use with words, that can also be dependent on the people we are surrounded by at that moment. I think it is true that our discourses are associated with our identity as they are the variables that represent the choices we make in speech. In short, I think he means to show that language is more of an “art than a science” meaning there is no specific methodology to it, its more of a representation of feeling. He also shapes discourses as situations; when he says that language does not have to be fluent between two people for them to talk, just the discourse is fluent between them. This means both people may not know what each is saying exactly, but they could have an idea through variables such as emotion or body language.