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Code-switching: the pressure on people to change how they speak

By Salina Cuddy, Lecturer in Sociolinguistics, Queen Mary University of London
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Have you found yourself altering how you speak when you find yourself in a more formal situation? Do you tone down your accent or stay away from words that may only be known in the area you are from? If so, you may already be experienced in code-switching.

In linguistics, code switching refers to people altering their “code” in certain contexts, depending on who they are speaking to. In this sense, a code typically refers to a different language. Much of the research in this area focuses on bilingual people and how they might switch between languages, sometimes in the same interaction.


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