Grammar & Code Switching: Schuylkill County Dialect

Kayla brought up code switching in class today while we were talking about the rules of grammar. Code switching is a really interesting concept because it happens all the time without people immediately noticing. The concept of proper grammar is almost non-existent outside educational settings where I’m from. I’m from the coal region in northeastern PA and we apparently have a dialogue of our own. We use the very informal plural of the word “you” and say, “you’s.” Something that really bothers me is that where I’m from, people don’t believe in the word “saw.” That sounds strange, but it’s very common to hear a person say, “I seen that.” It drives me crazy. They’re also very big on the double negatives. All of these things bother me to no end but when it comes to code switching, getting a group of Schuylkill county kids together, I’ve been told, is a nightmare. My roommate, Libby, is also from northeastern PA but not from the coal region. Once, a group of my friends from home came for a visit. I didn’t find this out until days later, but my roommate apparently could not follow any conversation we had. She said she laughed because we were laughing, but more often than not she had no idea what was going on. Apparently, when a group of us get together, we tend to drop consonant sounds out of words and we are notorious for shortening everything that we say. This never occurred to me until Libby pointed it out, but thinking about it is really funny. She says that when I’m alone with her, she can almost never hear it until I break out a Schuylkill county word that she doesn’t recognize like “flitch” or “byantny,” but she can hear hints of the code switching when she hears me on the phone with somebody from home. This is just one example but it’s something that happens without me noticing until it’s pointed out to me, and I think that’s the case in most instances of code switching.

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2 thoughts on “Grammar & Code Switching: Schuylkill County Dialect

  1. Kassie I completely agree with the principle of this post, which is that code switching is evident in everyday life and often times without people noticing. For example, in the most basic sense people talk to their friends in a manner that would never be reciprocated when speaking to a professor or another authoritative figure. People change the way they speak and act based off of whom they are surrounded by. For me, when I sing country songs my brothers always make fun of me because they hear a southern country accent come out from my time that I lived in Florida. I completely identify with your point about code switching and I think this theology resonates with most people even if they don’t know it.

  2. wonderful antidote Kassie. I love the idea of code switching myself. And as someone who does it often I often find it cool to hear other people talk about code switching among their friends and family. I believe their can even be more than one way to code switch. Initially code switching is switching between languages, but how I talk to my mother is not how I talk to my friends, and how I talk to either my mother or my friends is not how I would take to a boss or a work colleague. So people code switch all the time without noticing it! Its the coolest thing

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