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In his essay, Nah, We Straight: An Argument Against Code Switching, Vershawn Young defines the titular term as “the use of more than one language or language variety concurrently in conversation.” As the title suggests, he creates his argument around the idea that blending or “meshing” dialects together in all contexts of communication bridges the gap between different ethnic groups and is an effective way to spread equality.
On the other hand, Stanley Fish argues against this sentiment, claiming that the proper mechanisms of essay writing and composition—especially in a professional university setting—are paramount to learning. His argument implies that structure is one of the most important aspects of teaching composition, and that the way to achieve that is through standardized language instruction.
Although as an effort to prevent racism, the concept of code meshing is an honorable and worthwhile effort, I do personally believe it has its faults. It should undoubtedly be used as a tool to expedite social justice, but only to a certain extent should it be implemented. Rather than completely doing away with code switching, I am of the opinion that it—like any other social tool—has its proper place. If Young had his way, communication in the classroom, for example, would lose its professionalism and formality. If a student in her early twenties uses an abundance of curses while talking to her friends during an informal get-together, does that mean she should “code mesh” those colloquialisms with her professional manner of speaking in the classroom? If the answer is yes, that means she would blend the two and start to swear slightly during class which—while certainly breaking down stilted barriers between student and professor—takes away from the important expert/novice respect relationship. I for one would find myself respecting a college professor less if they started to engrain swear words from their personal lives into their lectures. And I believe that goes the same for students as well.
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