March 25, 2018 at 9:06 am #437
My very first impression as I opened the book was not positive. I felt the dialogue was kind of forced and unnatural – like the author was trying too hard and was going to use every “urban slang” word she knew on the first page. But when I let go of that I quickly lost myself in the perspective of a character code switching.
I am curious about which of us has had the experience of thinking in one “language” and speaking in another to suit the audience.
For me, I don’t think of myself as code switching – but I am very aware of the way my vocabulary, cadence, emphasis, and pronunciation change based on who I am speaking with. Sometimes I wish I were better at it, because I don’t always have enough of a filter and I speak before I think. (Usually that is when I use expletives for emphasis like a true Jersey girl.) But other times I find I spend a long time listening before I say anything, and when I have a good idea of the way the group speaks, then I am more comfortable to join in. Though sometimes I end up borrowing the accent of the group which is really bad.
What about you? How did you relate to Starr’s code switching?March 25, 2018 at 12:52 pm #438
I had a similar reaction as I began listening (audiobook) but I, too, let go of it once I got into the rhythm of the story. I am not sure that I code switch but I know I should! I tend to be myself in all spaces and that can be problematic, I think. Although I’m not expected to do much code switching either so that could be a factor in my not being adept at it?March 26, 2018 at 12:00 pm #451
I didn’t have this reaction when I began reading the book, but I think it’s because I began reading it with my 15 year old daughter and one of the things she said to me is that she liked it because of the “language” and that she felt like it made it easier for people her age to relate to the book and the characters. Maybe I would have reacted differently without this conversation. As for coding switching myself, I think I do it some within different contexts, but like Jen mentioned, I don’t think that I’m expected to do much code switching and I’ve never really thought of it as code switching, but instead just general pragmatics. However, I related to it in the book because I’ve watched my kids (even my younger two) do it in different contexts when around different people. I’ve also seen people really judge others for not code switching to their “standards”.March 26, 2018 at 12:25 pm #452
I love that comment about people judging others for not code switching to their standards! So true! I’ve seen it in social media and actually heard other professors comment on it. We have such a hard time in academia allowing people to be who they are – most of the best conversations I’ve had in class happen when students feel free to really talk in their true voice and speak from the heart. How can we expect that to happen while we are judging them for their grammar and academic language?
I have to agree with your daughter – once past the first page or two, the language felt authentic & it helped bring the book to life!March 26, 2018 at 1:10 pm #453
I will never hear the word “thug” again without thinking “the hate u give.” That’s such a powerful message in itself.April 17, 2018 at 9:53 am #502
The language was off-putting for me at first also. I think that somehow I have come to equate such language with being “ghetto” or “ignorant”. I think that it speaks to what some of you have noted… we tend not to value certain dialects, registers, etc. It’s bitter sweet for me in many ways because I struggle with language and ethnic identities. I code switch all the time. While it’s a blessing that I can (and thus more fully participate in “white” spaces than some black people), it’s a “job”. Also, it makes me wonder…it doesn’t seem like we judge the language/dialects/? of other racial minorities as much as we judge black (AA) people.
To Dorothy’s point, I’d say that the author’s language usage is very authentic. For me, it was quite reaffirming. I must say that I am glad that it mellowed out a bit after the opening pages (just a personal preference).
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