Home » Musings » “What Happens When Codes Collide?” or “The Boojee-Meter Dial”

“What Happens When Codes Collide?” or “The Boojee-Meter Dial”

“Greetings and felicitations!” or “Wasaaaaaaaaaaaaap!?!?!?”

“How are you doing on this fine day?” or “What it do playa? What it do?”

My wife was a business major when we were in college. One day, she taught me about a concept called “code-switching” which I found very interesting because, without knowing what it actually was, we were already professionals at it. In fact, many of you are probably professionals at it as well. Here’s why. According to Wikipedia (the ultimate source for all knowledge everywhere apparently), the definition reads as follows:

In linguistics, code-switching is switching between two or more languages, or language varieties, in the context of a single conversation. Multilinguals—speakers of more than one language—sometimes use elements of multiple languages in conversing with each other. Thus, code-switching is the use of more than one linguistic variety in a manner consistent with the syntax and phonology of each variety.

Fancy definition right? But if I were to code-switch and say that same definition, it might go a little something like this:

Code-switching, in terms of your everyday normal life, is dialing up or dialing back your “boojee-ness” in a given environment based on your comfort level.

Boojee, as defined by http://www.urbandictionary.com (the ultimate source for all words urban apparently), is:

Boojee – adv.: (1) from high class, wealthy, or very well to do background. (2) unknowingly, unintentionally snobby or snooty. (3) Often refers especially to the attitude of the son/daughter of a well to do family. Origin: From the French word ‘Bourgeois’. Alternate possible spellings: boozhee, boujee, boojy, boushi, booshi. Used in a sentence: My female friend doesnt know where to get 40ozs because shes boojee.

(Oh yeah… gotta love the urban dictionary.)

So now that we have the definitions out of the way, let’s go ahead and firmly establish that people act different in certain environments. I know it’s true… you know it’s true… and if you’re REAL about it… YOU KNOW you act different at your house than you do at work or at church or at the grocery store or at your Mama’s house or at the gym and so on… but what happens when codes collide. Case in point:


While at work, the phone rings at your desk. You look at the caller ID. You answer with “Thank you for calling BlahBlah Incorporated. How may I direct your call?” Phone rings at your desk again. You look at the caller ID. You answer with “Yooooo… did you see America’s Got Talent last night? VSU Gospel choir tore it up!!!” Then you notice your co-workers looking your way trying to figure out who you actually are.


Walking down the hallway at church. You see the Pastor walking up the hallway towards you and you say in a quiet, conservative, 1-800 call center voice “Good morning Pastor. I hope you’re having a blessed and highly favored day.” Following the Pastor is a good friend of yours (let’s call him “Jim”) and you say in a louder, boisterous voice “Jimmaaaaay!?!?!? What up home skillet biscuit with gravy? Holla at me after service dawwg!” Not only did you say this within earshot of the Pastor, but now Pastor is thinking “Does this person need holy oil, Crisco shortening, or WD-40 because that CAN’T be the same person?”

I use the workplace and church as examples because those two environments are where most people would have to be reserved/conservative in their actions and speech. We all try to be who we are wherever we are and sometimes we have to dial it up or dial it back, but the challenge comes when your dial it up and your dial it back are happening all at the EXACT SAME TIME. It’s not a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of “when”.

So what happens when YOUR codes collide in close quarters and you’ve broken the dial on YOUR “boojee-meter”?


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