Thursday, September 2, 2010

You're going to have to work on those language skills.

Maybe my company should take page out of the .gov's book and hire some Ebonics speakers. My first customer lives on, according to the work order, Asten Drive. Inputting this address in both the Garmin and in Google maps failed to find any results. I called the customer and asked her to confirm the address. "It's #### Asten Drive." "Asten or AsPen." "AsTen. A.S.P.E.N.""Thanks."

Ebonics is not a language or a dialect anymore than redneck or drunken slurring is. It's laziness, pure and simple.


Kris said...

I've toyed with ebonics before, trying to see if there was any value in it. My findings: there IS.

You know that saying, "Work smarter, not harder"? Totally applies to ebonics, which is counterintuitive, I know. I'm not saying anyone should go out and start talking any way they like, and the premise for ebonics IS laziness, but I think people who speak it have stumbled on brilliance by pure chance.

I was looking at ways to make the language better, and the very first thing I decided had to go if we were going to simplify the language was conjugation. What's one of the first things people pick on when they think of ebonics?

"He do." "She do." "It do." But all they've done is remove the necessity for conjugating the verb. "I do, you do, he do, she do, it do, we do, you (all) do, they do." It sounds unnatural to us, and it's nonstandard, but it's actually very efficient if you're teaching or learning the language.

I'm not saying mispronouncing words ("ax" for "ask," as an example, or your example of "Asten" for "Aspen") is worth anything to us, and not all of ebonic speaking is worth using, but some things . . . ohhhh yes, some things are worth looking at with new eyes.

Was ebonics borne of laziness and ignorance? Sure, I can agree to that. But in doing so, those who use it stumbled on something actually quite worth looking into. It's even understandable that it's done when you think that it makes more sense for everything to be uniform.

RobertM said...

It's the result of ignorance and a stubborn refusal to let go of that ignorance and I refuse to give it any respect. Evolution of language is one thing, but retarding it is something entirely different.

I can't stand people who can't be bothered to speak even moderately correct English out of pure laziness. Ebonics reflects a malignant cultural disease that emphasizes underachievement as a moral good.

Kris said...

Sooo, if something good comes out of something bad, you refuse to look at the good because it came from the bad?

I'm not saying ebonics is itself a good thing, but I've seen a few good components. I don't think those components should be ignored or pushed aside because they came from ebonics.

RobertM said...

I've been exposed to it pretty regularly for a while now and the only thing I've noticed is that it makes communication more difficult rather than less.

"He do." "He does." Correct me if I'm wrong, but those are both composed of just two syllables, right?

And while I agree with you that not being too particular is a good thing when learning a language it is something you should progress beyond if you speak that same language day in and day out. When learning a language the first thing we do is learn enough to just get buy, and then we refine it so that we can communicate more and more complex ideas.