According to the Oxford English dictionary
, the verb code-switching
is a linguistic term to “
alternate between two or more languages or varieties of language in conversation. To note: ‘As with any social behaviour, we pick up linguistic norms and learn to code-switch according to context’.”
Code-switching illustrated: “business jargon”, “talking vanilla”, “trolling”, “hanging out”, “nose bouquet, "inside voice”, LBD, ***
In the past 10 years or so, code-switching has often been used to describe how a person adjusts their behaviours, looks, language, approaches etc. to accommodate to a broader norm of a different social group. Why? Usually to gain approval/acceptance and/or to avoid grief.
Code-switching is not per say either good or bad - rather it is a learned coping mechanism to deal with particular social interactions.
Why should we care about it?
In the Armchair Expert podcast
interview with Wendy Mogel,
the author and child psychologist explains how the expectations of many parents are so high that many do not actualize how exhausting the constant code-switching
for their kids really is. Wendy states
that many parents are much more forgiving of their pets
then they are of their own children. A friend of mine used to say “I have to remind myself that my kid is not a trained monkey. Just because I want
him to - does not mean he will
As we look to the topics of inclusion, creating brave spaces and celebrating our own unique voice - how are we asking others to code-switch
for us? Conversely, how are we self-editing? As leaders, how are we conscious of creating environments where different behaviours or approaches are not only tolerated but truly given space to develop? Like JP Sears says in his inspired Goalcast
: the most pervasive disease to hit humanity is the disease of “being normal”.
In other words: