Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Need a job? Speak Jive? The DEA wants you.


The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) is looking for linguists who are fluent in Ebonics.

"Federal agents are seeking to hire Ebonics translators to help interpret wiretapped conversations involving targets of undercover drug investigations.

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently sent memos asking companies that provide translation services to help it find nine translators in the Southeast who are fluent in Ebonics, Special Agent Michael Sanders said Monday.

Ebonics, which is also known as African American Vernacular English, has been described by the psychologist who coined the term as the combination of English vocabulary with African language structure.

Some DEA agents already help translate Ebonics, Sanders said. But he said (he) wasn't sure if the agency has ever hired outside Ebonics experts as contractors."
- The Associated Press

In other words the DEA doesn't understand what all those Negro criminals in Atlanta are saying to each other and they need a few Black people fluent in the Negro language of Ebonics to translate. Sounds more like something from a bad movie (see video below) than something a government agency would be doing.

Back in the 70's and 80's Ebonics was called jive, right?

Hey wait a minute! Don't we have a Black President now? Is he okay with the DEA looking for Ebonics translators?

I wonder if the DEA will have linguists who understand the Redneck language as well? Or is Redneck not considered another distinct language like Ebonics?

It's amazing how Black people in this country are constantly subjected to being 'othered'. Pretty much every culture uses vernacular but it's only with African Americans that it is supposed to be another language.




22 comments:

Desertflower said...

Brilliant post Val! What will they think of next??? LOL!

Jason said...

Fluent in ebonics? *blank stare*

Love your thoughts on this issue Val!

The DEA not so much!

? said...

Do you remember when the Oakland school board tried to get Ebonics registered as a subject ?

Here's how linguists view it: " AAE (african American English) is a systematic language variety, with patterns of pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and usage that extend far beyond slang. Because it has a set of rules that is distinct from those of Standard American English, characterizations of the variety as bad English are incorrect; speakers of AAE do not fail to speak Standard American English, but succeed in speaking African American English with all its systematicity. Linguists are less concerned with whether or not AAE is a language or a dialect (terms that are more important socially and politically than linguistically) than with recognizing the systematic nature of AAE. "


That's from the Center for Applied Linguistics.

Citizen Ojo said...

All the times that my parents told me to use correct english and obtaining my masters degree just went out the window...

Val said...

@Desertflower

Thanks! I don't know but I'm sure they will come up with something so crazy that it makes this seem sane.

Val said...

@Jason

Blank stare here too. Thanks.

Val said...

@?

Yeah but, poor Southern Whites speak English with, "patterns of pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and usage that extend far beyond slang" too. So why isn't the way poor Southern Whites considered another language as well?

Val said...

@CO

Yeah all that education and we could have just hung out on 'the block'. Ha!

Felicia Monique said...

Another interesting topic!

Part of the reasoning in wanting to "recognize" our vernacular was to help educators (read: white teachers) understand and properly educate our youth, who, in fact, use "Ebonics" on a regular basis not only at home and in the 'hood, but in the classroom as well.

It was supposed to be a positive thing, truly. This ish here is purely absurd and offensive, and could've been stated in a less demeaning manner. Shame on this government...

? said...

Yeah but, poor Southern Whites speak English with, "patterns of pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and usage that extend far beyond slang" too. So why isn't the way poor Southern Whites considered another language as well?


It's not my field, but according to Linguistics poor white southerns do not have a distinctive vernacular as complicated as Ebonics. Most of it is just poor English.

A reason for this could be that African Americans have been traditionally more isolated from white communities.

Here's something interesting I found on the subject on AAVE (African American Vernacular English)


"There are a couple of reasons for the emergence of AAVE as a super-regional, ethnically based variety of English. The expanded mobility of African Americans in the last century linked speakers from different regions, making it easier for inter-regional language spread to take place. At the same time, the pattern of persistent segregation in American society served as a fertile social environment for developing and maintaining a distinct ethnic variety. Many Northern urban areas are, in fact, more densely populated by African Americans today than they were several decades ago, and the informal social networks of many urban African Americans remain highly segregated. Population demographics, however, do not tell the only story. Over the past half-century, there has been a growing sense of ethnic identity associated with AAVE, supported through a variety of social mechanisms that range from community-based social networks to stereotypical media projections of African American speech. In the process, regional dialects—and Standard English—have become associated with “white speech.”

Penny Wize said...

That's that bullsh*t!

Val said...

@Felicia Monique

"Part of the reasoning in wanting to "recognize" our vernacular was to help educators (read: white teachers) understand and properly educate our youth, who, in fact, use "Ebonics" on a regular basis not only at home and in the 'hood, but in the classroom as well."

Okay I get what you're saying but what about White kids that speak in a particular vernacular, like valley girls? No one called valley girl speak a different language and made teachers learn it.

So my point is that this Ebonics thing seems to be another attempt to make Black people seem different.

Val said...

@?

Well I don't agree with the linguists. Especially now in the digital age. Plus White kids who listen to rap have been using this vernacular for a couple of decades and with the advent of the internet who is isolated anymore?

Val said...

@Penny Wize

Yep, sure is.

Felicia Monique said...

I understand your point as well. However, "valley girl" talk and the lazy English of some southerners isn't the same as what the proponents of Ebonics is referring to...

They are talking about the use of "ain't," "She be, he be, they be, we be," and a basic inability to use verbs properly, ever. No, we aren't the only group that may speak this way, but we are the main group with several generations of children who are undereducated, underachievers, and falling through the cracks. The valley girls attend better schools, have tutors, and know the proper way to speak when necessary.

Beauty and Health Editor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Val said...

@Felicia Monique

Point taken.

Val said...

@Beauty and Health Editor

Yeah I really think when it's Black people doing something the larger culture tries to make it seem so different.

I have heard stories about twin children making up their own language.

"Iliagi wallagont tolloogoo goollloogo"

Lol@you remembering that all these years later.

Ensayn1 said...

Crip gangs in Los Angeles created a language of their own many many years ago. You hear bits of it when you hear people saying "fa shizzle my nizzle..." And of course when you hear the old school song Double Dutch Bus...

I think its ok for us to be different, hell we are not like them. This same thing occured during the early Dubya Bush years, when Micheal Powell, son of Colin Powell was head of the FCC. The Powell's are of Jamaican descent, under the leadership of Michael Powell the FCC hired Jamaicans to translate Jamaican Patwa (patios.)

Val said...

@Ensayn1

Yep, being different is okay. But it worries me when people try to 'other' us.

Gang talk between drug dealers isn't the way African Americans speak. That's the way criminals speak. But I def get your point.

Reggie said...

Damn we must think alike. When I first heard that nonsense about them recruiting people that spoke jive, this is the first thing that I thought of too.

Val said...

@Reggie

Ha! Yep, that movie was the first thing I thought of.

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Soldier Of Love

I've lost the use of my heart
But I'm still alive
Still looking for the life
The endless pool on the other side
It's a wild wild west
I'm doing my best

I'm at the borderline of my faith,
I'm at the hinterland of my devotion
In the frontline of this battle of mine
But I'm still alive

I'm a soldier of love.
Every day and night
I'm soldier of love
All the days of my life

I've been torn up inside (oh!)
I've been left behind (oh!)
So I ride
I have the will to survive

In the wild wild west,
Trying my hardest
Doing my best
To stay alive

I am love's soldier!

I wait for the sound
(oooh oohhh)

I know that love will come (that love will come)
Turn it all around

I'm a soldier of love (soldier of love)
Every day and night
I'm a soldier of love
All the days of my life

I am lost
But I don't doubt (oh!)
So I ride
I have the will to survive

In the wild wild west,
Trying my hardest
Doing my best
To stay alive

I am love's soldier!

I wait for the sound

I know that love will come
I know that love will come
Turn it all around

I'm a soldier of love
I'm a soldier

Still waiting for love to come
Turn it all around
(4x)

I'm a soldier of love
I'm a soldier

Still waiting for love to come
Turn it all around
(3x)

Still waiting for love to come

Miss Keri Baby!

Tracee!

Solange!

Solange!
The only interesting Knowles

un·for·get·ta·ble: Earning a permanent place in the memory; memorable: an unforgettable experience.

Alicia says...

Rest in Peace Mitrice

Rest in Peace Mitrice
Mitrice Richardson