Semantron 23 Summer 2023


insulted for ‘acting white’ (AW), in doing so supposedly renouncing their own culture. 2 Speech patterns were a leading factor towards these AW accusations, with 31% of the Black and Latinx participants reporting they had experienced backlash for speaking using a Standard English dialect rather than their own regional dialects, e.g. AAVE, for African American participants, or Spanish for Hispanic participants. This even extended to a lack of usi ng slang, simply speaking in ‘proper’ English was perceived as AW. These findings carry significance as they show youths ostracized simply for their use of code-switching to more formal English, resulting in a feeling of exclusion from both their own and Standard English communities. Essentially, a person who code-switches on a constant basis may lack a sense of belonging to either community they are surrounded by. A 2009 study, also published by the American Psychology Association, aimed to highlight the issues (especially in the workplace) of people striving to conform and fit into social environments, which eventually leads to burnout, from an abandonment of their own identity and incessant effort to fit in. 3 This displays how mental strain can be caused, not by the act of code-switching in itself, but by social pressure to match the linguistic norm, by not accepting dialects such as AAVE or hybrid languages in formal environments and rejecting relatively formal dialects (SE) in relaxed social situations among minority groups. In reference to mental health, it is reasonable to state that code-switching is a positive practice on the condition that it feels natural and comfortable and does not lead to burnout, both of which often rely on a sense of inclusivity and acceptance on the behalf of peers. A common misconception in the world of infants learning language in bilingual households is that code-switching has negative repercussions on vocabulary learning in children, with them becoming confused between the two languages and become less proficient in both than would be usually possible. These ideas are supported by Byers- Heinlein’s 2013 study, in which he examined the relationship between parents’ intra -sentential code- switching and their infants’ performa nce on English receptive and productive vocabulary measures. Both of these factors were measured by parental reports. 4 The research suggested that increased code-switching resulted in reduced receptive and productive vocabulary in the children. However, researchers Bail, Morini, and Newman, in 2015 carried out a study using an objective measure of code-switching and the same parent-reported vocabulary results and found opposite results, code- switching was positively related to the children’s’ vocabulary si zes. 5 The differences in results could attributed to the fact ‘children with different levels of verbal working memory may respond to code- switching input in distinct ways’ (with higher levels of verbal working memory increase code- switching inputs’ effec tiveness and vice versa for lower levels). 6 Equally, we could highlight the unreliability in parent reports of density of code-switching in Byers- Heinlein’s 2 Durkee, M. I., Gazley, E. R., Hope, E. C., & Keels, M. (2019). Cultural invalidations: Deconstructing the ‘acting White’ phenomenon among Black and Latinx college students. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 25 (4), 451 – 460. 3 Hewlin, P. F. (2009). Wearing the cloak: Antecedents and consequences of creating facades of conformity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94 (3), 727 – 741. 4 Byers-Heinlein K (2013). Parental language mixing: Its measurement and the relation of mixed input to young bilingual children’s vocabulary size. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition , 16, 32 – 48. doi: 10.1017/S1366728912000120 [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]. 5 Bail A, Morini G, & Newman RS (2015). Look at the gato! Code-switching in speech to toddlers. Journal of Child Language , 42, 1073 – 1101. doi: 10.1017/S0305000914000695 [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar] [Ref list]. 6 Kaushanskaya M, Crespo K. Does Exposure to Code-Switching Influence Language Performance in Bilingual Children? Child Dev. 2019 May;90(3):708-718. doi: 10.1111/cdev.13235. Epub 2019 Mar 28. PMID: 30919944; PMCID: PMC7816522.


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