Reading Comprehension Quiz

Read the passage “Code-switching and Laughter” below and answer the 20 questions that follow.   Code-switching and Laughter (1)       Imagine being at a boring office job. Your friend sends you something funny. You might laugh quietly, but you wouldn’t burst out laughing the way you would if you were out with friends at a restaurant, right? That’s something language experts have wondered about for a while. Do we have a range (or possible variations) of louder and softer laughs for various occasions? In other words, do we code-switch laughter? (2)       Code-switching is how we change our language to match each social situation. When you talk with family or friends, do you sound different? You might roll your R’s or speak a mix of English and another language. But in school or at work, you might use standard English instead. People code-switch to different degrees, depending on what kind of background they come from. Teachers have tried using code-switching to help students learn. Some experts think code-switching is necessary for groups of people to work together. Others argue code-switching forces people from different cultures to hide parts of who they are. But everyone code-switches from time to time. (3)       Phillip Glenn is a language professor at Emerson College in Boston. He says that our laughter follows certain patterns. Imagine your friends tell you something funny at a funeral and that makes you want to laugh.  You would probably “cover your mouth because you know you are not supposed to be laughing,” Glenn said. That’s not quite the same as code-switching, he added. It’s more about the situation — laughing at a funeral, where you’re supposed to be sad. Still, he says, “identity categories” like language and country do play a role. They might occur “at any time as people are dealing with each other,” even if you can’t always tell. (4)       Betsy Rymes is a University of Pennsylvania language professor. She thinks identity categories can powerfully change how we act. Casual conversations, she says, “are building blocks” or important factors of how people place in society. These building blocks form different language levels that control how elegant and stylish people are supposed to laugh. Here’s an example of Rymes’ point. If you speak proper English, like a teacher, that might put you in a high place on the language ladders, or language levels. You might not need to have a whole range of different laughs. Why? Since you speak properly, whatever laugh you use is already proper. But if you use a lot of slang, you have to switch between proper English and the way you usually talk. That means you have to laugh differently, too. (5)       Judi James is a body language expert, and she described how people change their laughs to form social connections and get closer to one another. She gave the example of watching a TV comedy alone or with friends. “If you’re alone, you’ll probably laugh out loud very little, if at all,” she said. “But when you watch it with friends, you’ll laugh with them.” Such laughter is a form of bonding. The failure to code-switch can break these bonds. The book Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America by Charisse Jones and Kumea Shorter-Gooden looks at this issue. Many African-Americans speak two kinds of English. The first is called AAVE, or African-American Vernacular English, and the second is standard English. The book says that African-American women who cannot code-switch between AAVE and standard English can have trouble creating belonging. (6)       Laughter is a good example of why code-switching matters. Your friend might laugh quietly at work because they’re expected to act more formal. If they were to laugh that way all the time, they might seem cold or distant. In this way, social bonds can break when people can’t code-switch. Whether we mean to code-switch our laughter is still up for debate. What is clear is that no one always laughs exactly the same way. We all have a handful of “real” laughs to pick from.

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