So, I don’t know much about codeswitching, but I’ve been forced to learn more about it because one of my students, the recently graduated Dr. Kai Greene is really interested in the topic. So, he’s taught me a lot. Anyway, some things that are interesting about these switches is that it takes skill. Kids may switch to fill in a word if they don’t know it in the language they are using, but they almost always use it correctly– so, a noun for a noun, a verb for a verb. This means they have to know a lot about both languages in order to monitor both. Indeed, those who are most bilingual, we’ve found are the most skilled, and switching tends to be directional. This means that children who are dominant in one language will switch more often when using their weaker or non-dominant language. Also, code-switching is not an indicator of language impairment.
So, why this random post on codeswitching? Well, a couple of years ago, I’d found a codeswitched version of “A visit from St. Nicholas” and I thought a reprise was in order:
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa, Not a creature was stirring — Caramba! Que pasa? Los niños were tucked away in their camas, Some in camisas and some in pijamas,
While hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado To bring all children, both buenos and malos, A nice batch of dulces and other regalos.
Outside in the yard there arose such a grito That I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito. I ran to the window and looked out afuera, And who in the world do you think quien era?
Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero came dashing along like a crazy bombero. And pulling his sleigh instead of venados were eight little burros approaching volados.
I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre “Ay Pancho, ay Pepe, ay Chucho, ay Beto, Ay Chato, ay Chopo, Macuco, y Nieto!”
Then standing erect with his hands on his pecho He flew to the top of our very own techo. With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea, he struggled to squeeze down our old chiminea,
Then huffing and puffing at last in our sala, With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala, he filled all the stockings with lovely regalos– For none of the niños had been very malos.
Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento, he turned like a flash and was gone like the viento. And I heard him exclaim, and this is verdad, Merry Christmas to all, and Feliz Navidad!