As discussed in class and seen in the readings of Suresh Canagarajah, “codemeshing”, the mixing of languages, dialects, accents, etc., can be a resourceful way of communicating to get a point across. “Texts and talk don’t feature one language at a time; they are meshed and mediated by diverse codes…” (Canagarajah, 6). An explicit point in the film where codemeshing is most prominent is when Jess is opening her report card in front of her family. The whole family is gathered in the living room in front of a picture of Guru Nanak (the main God of Sikhism). The mother is praying to Guru Nanak in her native language (Punjabi), while the father is very nervous. He continues to tell Jess, before she opens the envelope, in a mix of Hindi/English, that she should’ve worked harder this semester and that if she doesn’t get straight A’s that her goals of becoming a doctor will be ruined. He continues to rant about how she should give up soccer for good; meanwhile, the mother is shown still praying. Once Jess opens the report card and reveals that she indeed did get “good marks” the family separates and acts as if none of this has occurred. Without the use of codeshmeshing during this scene, I don’t think it would have truly been as relevant and accurate to the Indian culture. Often times parents, especially first-generational parents, tend to use native languages as either sacred or in a time of teaching. Jess’s parent’s usage of a mixture of languages reveals a deeper meaning and appreciation for their culture.
Another example of codemeshing in the film is when Jess’s father finds out that Jess is “fancying” her white soccer coach. Her father begins to shame her by using the Hindi language and calling her a disgrace to her family and culture. The use of the native language in his situation is very strong. Once again it has a strong connotation behind it and makes Jess feel degraded and as if she has committed the ultimate crime. Her father continues to compare Jess to her sister who is engaged and plans on getting married to a fellow Punjabi. Jess, unlike her sister, expresses her interest in things other than being a housewife (playing soccer) and marrying an Indian. “Languages are always in contact with and mutually influence each other” (Canagarajah, 6). I think in using codemeshing, Jess’s father is trying to do make Jess recognize her identity in this world. Without the Indian culture, traditions, and customs, she would be a complete different person. While near the end of the film he realizes that the American (English) culture is important part of his children’s lives, he still doesn’t want them to lose their Indian heritage and disconnect from the history.
Personally, I believe that the use of codemeshing is extremely important. While many words just don’t have a direct translation into English, it also provides for a deeper meaning into identity. Language helps reflect upon the diverse backgrounds from which people come from and allow for people to share experiences and create family bonds. By knowing a language, and using it appropriate with a strong understanding and background, it helps an individual feel more prideful about relating to culture and history. Overall, the use of codemeshing or mixing of languages is a necessity in certain scenarios to relate thoughts or ideas.