Many are the times when people find themselves shifting of the languages they use and also the way they express themselves. The practice of moving forth and back between two languages at times results to partial or complete crossing over. In such situations, the end result might be language crossing. This is the code alternation done by people who are not members of the second language. This form of crossing tends to happen across ethnic boundaries as well as social groupings. People acquire distinctive patterns of communication through their ethnicity or the environment in which they are born and bred. But there are times they cross over and use a language that may be considered a second language from theirs. Such is the case in the usage of adolescent way of speaking and also hip hop culture and language users most of who are teenager users.
Adolescents have always showed how language crossing can be successful more so when they want to show allegiance and identify with language that unifies them. These adolescents systematically differed in the way they switched their language and crossing over at the same time. This switch becomes very common when engaging in group recreation as it gives them a sense of belonging. Some of these recreation activities include playing soccer, pool, cards, listening to music and also verbal abuses. Such is the case that happens when teenagers start using language that is commonly used in hip hop music. In as much as code switching takes place more so in order to frame verbal messages (Basso 8), there are times when they will completely move and start using the other language that is different from theirs, one which is mutually acceptable as the better one in order to conform to common practice.
There are times when there is unsuccessful language- crossing more so when a non dominant ethnic language is used in a setting where the dominant ethnic language is appreciated more. Such is the case with the use of Creole and English. Creole was predominantly spoken by the black community. There are times when white teenagers express their desire to identify with their counterparts who are black. This desire is made intense by their desire to identify with popular culture as depicted by popular music such as hip hop which has become appreciated beyond the black minority group. But it almost becomes difficult for white teenagers to use hip hop language which is inspired by Creole for a long time. After a short while they always retract to the English language they are used to. In their case, language crossing becomes unsuccessful. It is said that hip hop was not meant predominantly for blacks but they are the ones who identified with it (Cutler 6). But then anyone who feels marginalized due to their ethnicity identifies with it and that makes it not very successful in its acceptance across all groups of people.
Language crossing can be either successful or unsuccessful. It may turn out successful when the persons using the language in question as a means of wanting to be accepted in the second language. it is not always positive in many cases because of the inferiority attached to the language in some quarters as seen in the case of Creole language among a predominantly white community even when it is used in popular culture. Language used in popular culture and more so in hip hop, carry a complex set of symbolic connotations that when copied and used by others (Woolard 4), become part and parcel of their lifestyle. It is at this point when crossing over of language takes place.
Basso, Keith. Portraits of “the Whiteman”: Linguistic Play and Cultural Symbols Among The Western Apache. PDF File
Cutler, Cecilia. “Keepin’ It Real”: White hip- Hoppers’ Discourses of language, Race and Authenticity. PDF File.
Woolard, Kathryn, A. Simultaneity and Bivalency as strategies in Bilingualism. PDF File