Code Switching

8 Sep

I’m excited. All right, I know I said that in the last post. But now, in addition to autumn, I’m excited about a symposium I’ve registered for, on African & Diasporic Languages. One of the recommended readings is on Code Switching, which is using different languages within a conversation. This immediately brought to mind a trip I took to Germany with my grandmother in 2003; we visited her cousin and uncle, and it was a quadri-lingual affair. My grandmother spoke Romanian with her cousin and uncle, her cousin spoke German with her family, her family spoke English with me, and everyone who knew Hungarian reserved that for curses and other colorful language. So I suppose the code switching there was between Romanian and Hungarian. I can sort of guess at the significance of it, in my very vague, impressionistic understanding of the two cultures and languages and their histories. I’ve been told Hungarian just has better swear words. I wish I knew more of the language than I do; all I can say is the arcane greeting, “I kiss your hand” and “igen” (yes).

In any case, I’m looking forward to the symposium.

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