Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Now hear Dis.

Just so ya'll know ya girl is da shiznit! (but I guess I ain't too logical) .....but hey, I'm a damn GENIUS...we can't be good at errrrythang! LOL

Your IQ Is 110

Your Logical Intelligence is Below Average

Your Verbal Intelligence is Exceptional

Your Mathematical Intelligence is Above Average

Your General Knowledge is Genius

I stole this little bloggy thingy from Chele

O.K.....on to the post of the day!!

You know, when I was little I got teased allllllllll the time by other people in the neighborhood who said I “talk proper”. I grew up around a good mixture of black and white people and my mother has always had excellent diction and a great vocabulary. My mother did not let me say “gimme” or “I dunno” or “I ain’t” or anything of the like. She also did not let me say “fart”…..it was “pass gas”. She also didn’t use the slang words for body parts. The only thing that was an exception this was “pee” and “poop”. She used those all the time! LOL If there was a word that I did not know, from EARLY on she would say “look it up”. “But ma”, I would say, “I can’t spell it”. “Sound it out” was the response.

I feel that I was given the tools to survive in this “corporate (and mostly white) working world” from day one. And I thank my mother for it.

Interestingly enough, English was always the one subject that I could ace without even TRYING throughout my school years. So, I do know that some of this was natural ability as far as my burgeoning style of diction. It just came naturally. But, kids learn what they hear and what they are around. Now, math….that was a whoooole other funky arena, but if you gave me an essay test or ANYTHING that I had to write, I could bullshit my way outta a paper bag while only having a smattering of facts before me. It worked EVERYTIME. You know how they say that everyone has their own gifts…..well, I guess bullshitting and English were(are) mine! LOL

And it’s funny but when I hear black people who speak in all slang or who “naturally” have a “ghetto twang” to their voice inflections and style, I know that they will be limited in how far they will go (unless they own their own business). It is a hard and true fact that the way you SOUND is typically MORE important than how you look. Case in point. I bet that if you go to an interview slightly shabbily dressed or just not in an “interview worthy” outfit that as long as you SOUND professional, you’d beat out another black person with the SAME credentials, dressed to the professional nines, but who did not enunciate as well and whose diction was not as precise as yours.

The way you sound matters. It supercedes all education, and all of the visual indicators or professionalism.

And though I know the “correct” way to speak, I find myself using more slang when I am around my friends or family. I can “code-switch” between the slang and the corporate-speak at the drop of a dime because my brain initially LEARNED to speak that way. When I see a child who speaks in the “ I own no whut’chu tawkin ‘bout”’s and who has no idea how to speak the way most of the business world speaks, I can’t help but be saddened. Why? Because once your brain “learns” how to pronounce certain words, it’s verrrrry hard to undo. Hence, the reason someone who grew up speaking Spanish will pretty much FOREVER have an “accent” to our American ears. In just that way, even when people who grew up speaking in a slang/black way, it sounds contrived when they try to sound more “proper”. This affects what jobs they will get and potentially where they go in life. All based on something simple as the way you speak. Because it’s a fact that most employers white or otherwise do NOT want someone who sounds “typically” black. Haven’t you noticed that one of the basic criteria found in a job description is “ excellent verbal and written skills”???

I am raising my son and I sometimes find myself using slang around him, and at least right now, I really need to stop it. I do believe that because he is around my husband and I,whose voice quality and pronunciation is typically “proper”, that he will be fine. But I don’t want to take any chances. A black man in America has a hard ENOUGH time getting advantages and moving up. He doesn’t need to have to “think” about how he sounds adding to his things to overcome.

So, I must admit, though I want my son to grow up around an equal number of blacks and whites, if I had to choose, I’d rather him grow up and learn to sound more white than black. Not BE more white than black. There is a difference. My husband and I struggle with how to achieve this. But the good thing is that we’ve still got time and he’s only 18 months. But those seeds of language are growing NOW…. I ain’twon’t be as careless anymore when it comes to the usage of slang around my baby…..time to prepare for the future.

So, here’s my question. I often hear children using a plethora of “slang” and I myself use it. How important is it to you and do you think that how you sound matters?


Knockout Zed said...

I think that what matters more than anything is accent. An African can speak the fuckin' Queens English, but if they have that twang, they're labeled "ghetto". No twang, and you sound crazy as fuck using 'hood slang. It's all in the accent.

Serial_Dater said...

While teaching your child the proper way to speak and enunciate is very important. Don't under estimate the importance of being able to communicate and/or understand ebonics. In understanding or possessing the ability to speak ebonically or in slang terminology, it may very well save him from having his ass kicked or at a minimum arm him with the ability to see the "jack move" in progress. My advice is to make sure he spends some quality time with some of his more "urban" cousins. It will come in handy. lol

chele said...

Of course it matters. My mother did the same thing yours did and I do the same thing to my kids. Every time my daughter says, "yup" I say, "Excuse me?" and she replies with, "Yes."

I can switch gears when I have to but I'd rather not. I'm beyond being offended when someone says that I sound white. There is nothing wrong with using correct English.

I love my job but I am one of three people of color in my office, the other two are Hispanic. I know if I had come into the interview all ghetto-fab I never would have been hired. Conversely, the office environment that I left was 90% Black and every "Black" stereotype that exists was up in there. Unfortunately, when promotions and advancement opportunities were handed out no one in that office was considered -- they always hired from the outside.

Robyn said...

@Serial: Oh, I TOTALLY agree!! LOL And that's why I was saying that I want him to know BOTH vernaculars because I SHO don't want him sounding like Buffy & GiGi (see: "oh, my Gawd"). I believe that he definitely needs to be around black people who speak in the typical "black vernacular"/ebonics or whatever we shall name it. My only pause with that was that if I was FORCED to choose, I would want him to sound more "white" per se. Simply because of the way this world works. But I agree with you wholeheartedly, I definitely think that ALLLLL BLACK people should be able to "git down wit the git down" :-)

@Zed: the "twang" is exactly what I was talking about when I was saying that when you are young, what you hear is what you imitate and such is the reason that nigga's have that "twang" you speakof if that is the way they learned how to speak. When you are learning to speak, your mouth learns how to form words, your tongue learns how to position itself to make certain sounds, and you learn how to "mimic" what you hear to the point that it BECOMES how you speak. The same goes for the differences in dialect between Italian's and Germans or Russians or the French. It's all in the placement of the lips, tongue and teeth (to get technical with it) and it BECOMES BURNED and INGRAINED permanently into your speech pattern synapse pathway. This is why once you learn to speak that way, nigga's will have DAMN hard time getting rid of that "twang" just as whites would have a hard time sounding "ghetto". That's one of those early, formative things that once it's set.....it's set. You can always tell when one of us or one of them is "trying to sound_____" however they are trying to sound. ya know what I mean?

Freaky Deaky said...

Great question Robyn. My mom was the same way with us. I don't enunciate as well as I'd like to but I suspect that's because after I was 6 months old, I refused to speak much until I was about five. I can speak "hood" but like most people who learn a foreign language after a certain age, I've become too self conscious to speak it without a (proper) accent. I'm a lot more comfortable with "proper" but I actually prefer to use the vulgar words for bodily functions, body parts, and things like that. I'll definitely have to work on that and my cursing if and when I have children.

My younger sister especially gets mad at me when I dumb down my speech and use ebonics.

Well, that was off track. To answer your question, I think how you sound is very important. I wouldn't want my receptionist to speak like Lil' John for example. I can see the customers coming in, saying hello, hear the receptionsist speak, turn around, and walk right back out in the span of three seconds.

Msnhim said...

I must say I agree. I have 3 girls and though I understand the need for them to talk slang when thier with thier friends when they are with me I make it a point to remind them that they are with me and the slag is a No No.

Barney said...

Your IQ Is 110

Your Logical Intelligence is Below Average

Your Verbal Intelligence is Exceptional

Your Mathematical Intelligence is Above Average

Your General Knowledge is Exceptional

I just took the quiz, Im English!..LOL ;-)

VerseOne said...

I think the most important thing is to be able to adapt. The are time when the able to fit in both the "hood" and "corporate" worlds are equal.
And the ability to know when to use one or the other.

brooklyn babe said...

you tricked me, i thought this was a short post.... i'll be back!

P. Alonzo Harris Jr. said...

hey ma,

i agree that how you articulte yourself is important and may determine how far you go....

most of the time my answer to a great many of the flaws of the human condition is the "state". that is, have the government step in and set its subjects right...but in this area, i feel that the best way for folks to grasp the importance of proper speech, it needs to be taught at homes and reinforced at all levels of education....

TRUTHZ said...

i too was chided about how i talked...i was called the black white girl..

i think it is important how we sound. to an extent. it depends on the circumstance. if you chilling w/ yo' peeps, why not speak in a way comfortable to you. BUT, if you trying to get a j-o-b, i think speaking correct grammar is definitely the thing to do

nikki said...

i think it's important. meanwhile, i think it's even more important for kids to understand that different situations call for different language. i equate 'slang' with 'spanish'. if you're in an environment surrounded by hispanic folk and you need to communicate with them, know spanish. if you're in corporate america and need to communicate with them, know standard english. if you're in the hood and gotta communicate effectively there, know slang.

Robyn said...

I agree with everyone who said that it is important to make the disctiction of "when and where" to use slang. And I like Nikki's analogy best. When in the presence of those who speak Spanish, speak it. When in the presence of those who speak "proper english", speak it. I think that you definitely need to know both because at leas for my son, he will need both. Now, people of other races may not NEED to be able to "fit into" our world because they don't need to. While, we NEED to be able to fit into theirs. But if you're just chillin wit'cha fam, etc. , then you can be more relaxed....