Monday, August 23, 2010

Oh, so now "Ebonics" is a language again?

Oh, and here I thought that it was just lazy, uneducated people mangling the English language that the rest of us speak.

DEA wants to hire Ebonics speakers.
AUGUST 23--The Department of Justice is seeking to hire linguists fluent in Ebonics to help monitor, translate, and transcribe the secretly recorded conversations of subjects of narcotics investigations, according to federal records.

A maximum of nine Ebonics experts will work with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Atlanta field division, where the linguists, after obtaining a “DEA Sensitive” security clearance, will help investigators decipher the results of “telephonic monitoring of court ordered nonconsensual intercepts, consensual listening devices, and other media”

The DEA’s need for full-time linguists specializing in Ebonics is detailed in bid documents related to the agency’s mid-May issuance of a request for proposal (RFP) covering the provision of as many as 2100 linguists for the drug agency’s various field offices. Answers to the proposal were due from contractors on July 29.

In contract documents, Ebonics is listed among 114 languages for which prospective contractors must be able to provide linguists. The 114 languages are divided between “common languages” and “exotic languages.” Ebonics is listed as a “common language” spoken solely in the United States.

Ebonics has widely been described as a nonstandard variant of English spoken largely by African Americans. John R. Rickford, a Stanford University professor of linguistics, has described it as “Black English” and noted that “Ebonics pronunciation includes features like the omission of the final consonant in words like ‘past’ (pas’ ) and ‘hand’ (han’), the pronunciation of the th in ‘bath’ as t (bat) or f (baf), and the pronunciation of the vowel in words like ‘my’ and ‘ride’ as a long ah (mah, rahd).”

Detractors reject the notion that Ebonics is a dialect, instead considering it a bastardization of the English language.

OK, aside from the fact that some scammers out there are going to get paid for nothing more than translating "from Loser to English", I suspect that unless the government drops it's requirement that any potential candidates have a college degree (or even a GED), they aren't going to find many applicants who talk like that.

And serious good luck trying to find "ebonics speakers" who can pass a criminal background check and a drug test.

Just more Dopey Change from the Obama Administration.


  1. How much more stupid can it get?

  2. Oh my hell!! My seven year old speaks it!! Not on purpose mind you, but when he lost his two front teeth something happened to his "th". Every single day I correct him over saying baf instead of bath! I guess this means I'm going to have to get him to a speech therapist pronto.

  3. sigh... NO COMMENT!

  4. Been a few months since I was at The Smoking Gun website, what with all of my other activites.

    I looked at the contrack spexifications and didn't see no axterikts.

    What is most hilarious, however, is Spec C.5.2.e, which requires that the transcriber "use accepted standard grammar and punctuation in all transcriptions."

    How many speakers of Ebonics know standard grammar and punctuation? The DEA will have to hire someone to translate and retranscribe the transcribed translation!

  5. I couldn't help but think of the scene from "Airplane" where they were looking for someone who spoke "Jive" and it was the actress who played "Mrs. Cleaver".