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In today’s news, actor Samuel L. Jackson challenged President Obama to “be more presidential” and to “stop trying to relate.”  That comment stemmed from a recent interview where the President was omitting the final “g” consonant at the end of his words.  Many of us speak in the manner that Mr. Jackson is referencing; examples would be saying “walkin” for walking or “sayin” for saying.

Although, the actor refers to this as a grammatical issue, it’s actually part of a larger communication behavior, which linguists define as code-switching.  This term is defined as an intentional or unintentional shift from one language to another, one dialect to another, or one style to another, for a variety of reasons.  Some of the reasons speakers opt to code-switch range from: showing solidarity with a social group, trying to distinguish oneself, participating in social encounters, or even impressing or persuading an audience.

This brief humorous video clip is one example of intentional code-switching :

click here to watch video clip

Now that you’re aware of this communication behavior, pay attention to how others speak as well as your own speaking style.  See if you can identify code-switching when relating to peers vs. family, colleagues vs. your boss or in any other context.  It promises to be an ear-opener.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts; why not send me a voice mail using the microphone icon to the right?

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