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How My Spoken Language Changes in Different Situations

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    Although I have my own idiolect, the way I speak constantly changes. This is because I try to adapt my spoken language to suit the situation I am in. There are many reasons for why I try to adapt my spoken language some of the main reasons being that I am fearful of the judgements and perceptions that others may make because of the way I speak also being afraid of exclusion or not being able to fit in and sometimes I feel pressurised into speaking in a certain way. With my parents I often codeswitch between Bengali (my mother tongue) and English. ‘Aboo money lagé’ (Dad I need money).

    Notice how I go from speaking Bengali to English and then once more back to Bengali. I use more Bengali to show my parents that even though I am bilingual and get to experience another cultures, I am still in touch with my Bengali heritage. If I was to speak in full English my parents may think that I prefer my English over Bengali. Therefore I feel the need to speak Bengali as culture is very important to my family and so by speaking the language I am showing that I value the language and the culture, which will please my parents. When I speak with my family I sometimes use fluent Bengali.

    There are several reasons for why I speak in this way. The main reasons being that, the atmosphere is very strict and so I feel pressurised to speak fluently, because I am worried my parents would get cross at me if my Bengali was not fluent. I also use fluent Bengali to show my parents that I can speak the language of the native speakers in Bangladesh which would make them proud. Also by speaking fluent Bengali makes it easier to communicate with my parents as they understand what I am saying, which emotionally makes me feel closer to them. Although I speak Bengali with my parents I use formal Bengali.

    This is because my parents are older than me and have power over me so I need to respect them. Another reason why I speak formal Bengali is that it makes my parents proud because respecting your elders is very important in our culture. A lot of the time when I am speaking, I use some Arabic vocabulary. This is to show my parents that I am in touch with me Muslim heritage, and to show that I am proud of my religion. Also by using Arabic terms it shows my parents that I enjoy learning and practising my religion which in turn would make them proud. However when I am at school, it is a different context so I automatically change the way I speak.

    For example I use phatic talk, which I would never use in front of my parents because it would show that I am lazy and I am not bothered about the way I speak. However I use it now to show my friends that I am relaxed and do not take things too seriously which is a good thing in this context as it makes me seem ‘cool’. Also sometimes I use slang words when speaking with my friends. The slang words I use are usually words I pick up from friends. I use these words when I am speaking so I feel closer to them and l accepted, as I speak like one of them. I would never use slang in front of my parents because of the way I fear they may see me.

    In culture using slang words gives the impression that you are unintelligent and uneducated. However these stereotypical views are also view that I fear my friends may have if I was to speak in my mother tongue Bengali. Although we all speak it I find it difficult because my friends may see me as what society calls today a ‘freshi’. A word used to describe illiterate and uneducated people. When I speak with my friends we all usually speak informal. This is because we are all the same age and it is easier to communicate with each other if we speak informal because we do not have to worry about the way we speak to each other too much.

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