When I met el esposo, I was living in Spain, trying to perfect my Spanish. I was taking classes at the famed Universidad de Salamanca, situated in a region of Spain known for its absolutely perfect Castillian Spanish. When my Spanish classmates found out I had befriended this guy from the South of Spain they warned me that he would be a bad influence. "Why?" I wondered. And they all responded that they don't speak properly in the south of Spain. They made it sound like southern Spaniards weren't very educated and had a horrible grasp of proper Spanish.
Obviously I didn't pay attention to the warnings because I married my Southern Spanish friend and have allowed him to help me with my Spanish for the last 15 years, but it is an interesting situation. El esposo always bristles when people from the north of Spain (and elsewhere outside of Spain as well) imply that southern Spaniards don't know how to speak proper Spanish. He claims that grammatically, they speak correctly but their accents, and the way they pronounce certain words and the speed at which they talk (really fast) makes them targets for the rest of Spain to mock. Kind of like southerners in the United States.
I mean who doesn't hear a Southern accent and almost automatically some stereotype jumps to mind. Either of Scarlett O' Hara, or the KKK, or at the very least, someone who sits on a porch and sips sweet tea from time to time. Of course these are stereotypes, but I would feel safe to say that many people with strong southern accents in the United States, if they go North for a job or schooling, may feel the need to tone it down in order to be taken seriously. My husband says it is the same here in Spain.
When el esposo went North to go to college, he claims that for the first month the other guys in his dorm, as well as his teachers, just kind of stared at him with confused looks on their faces whenever he opened his mouth. They couldn't understand a word he said. So very quickly he learned to drop his accent and spoke more slowly and got rid of some of the southern slang he'd used all of his life. And he was fine. And of course whenever he comes home he slides right back into his comfortable southern speech. I have asked that when he speaks with our children that he speaks a kind of neutral Spanish as well so they don't have to learn to code switch as they pass in and out of different Spanish speaking situations. And he's okay with that. He loves his language, his southern Spanish language, but he understands the reality our children are living in as well.
So, I'm wondering...The rest of you, do you code switch with your language? Do you speak one way at home and another in public? Is it based on region, culture, comfort? Let's hear it. I'm listening.