The main definition of a code switch is when someone shifts from one language to another during a conversation. The shift can be as brief as a single line of Spanish that concludes an English conversation. Some of our bilingual noders may do this subconsciously, especially when talking to other bilingual speakers. I knew a girl who was trilingual in English, French and Spanish; she would make a code change to each language by the end of any given conversation. Sometimes you needed a whiteboard to talk to her. Sometimes you needed anti-crazy pills, but those are stories for another day.

When I first heard the term "code change" my computer science brain took over and I thought about PHP and HTML mixes or something similar. I had to admit that I was pretty far off with that assumption, and let's face it, what does my anthropology professor know about PHP?


But what if I'm not far off with that assumption? I was thinking in terms of formal languages and strings, but natural languages aren't that far off. Formal languages would just be a subset of a broader language set. So PHP and HTML make for a valid code change! So does a C based CGI program outputting HTML! That means English and Java are also a valid code switch. Hmm++.


So how many code switches do we perform in a given day? How many languages do we really speak, inside or outside of the English language? For instance, in the course of my average day in class, I speak Java and XML for web development, C and SDL for game programming and RDF for semantic web development. When I kick back at the end of the day and hit up the message boards, I'm speaking Fordese to my fellow Mustang owners.

So how many languages do you speak? I think it's something to be proud of, whether or not you speak multiple, distinct natural languages or different languages within the English domain. Or a combination of the two. When all those languages start to blunder into one another in your brain, what code change does that cause? Can we keep our native languages independent of the secondary languages or do we have some sort of code fusion?