Code Switch or Chameleon? Communication Collides

Code switching is most often used in language and multilingual conversations. But I have found that while I do code switch in conversations with different accents and speech tactics, I also use code switching as a key communication tool between different groups of people.


I have always had a diverse group of friends from many different “groups” of people. It’s always been a struggle to invite friends to a birthday party because I’m always questioning, “will they all get along? Or will it be weird?” And it’s difficult to navigate a gathering where there are different people that you care about greatly, but who may not care to intermingle.


I have always switched the way that I talk and the things that I talk about based on who I am with. But there are other ways that people code switch, everyone does it! It’s a really good skill to have and often TCKs have a leg up on it because of our ever-changing lifestyle. Code switching is not something exclusive to TCKs or multilingual peoples.


The way I see it, code switching can be a shift in demeanor and mannerisms, although we often call it the chameleon effect, it’s the same thing as code switching. Having a conversation with a professor is very different from having a conversation with your friend from high school. Code switching occurs when two worlds collide, whether those two worlds are languages or different social groups.


It doesn’t matter if your two worlds are between friends from many different countries, or if it’s your parents meeting your significant other for the first time. People code switch because there is a need to quell the transition of the different perspectives and become the middle ground.


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Celebrating Cross-Cultural TCK Identity
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