Know Ebonics? The U.S. Department of Justice Wants You!

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YURI GRIPAS/Reuters/Corbis

NewsFeed readers, all those hours spent watching The Wire have finally paid off!

The Justice Department is looking for nine linguists with a knowledge of American Ebonics to “monitor, translate and transcribe” DEA recordings of drug dealers. These recordings will include “telephonic monitoring of court ordered nonconsensual intercepts, consensual listening devices, and other media,” which means wiretaps, we think. Applicants with a knowledge of the ATL scene will have a leg up; the investigations will be run out the DEA’s Atlanta office.

To paraphrase Sen. Clay Davis, “Sh******************t, what an amazing opportunity.”

The move is part of a DEA request for more than two thousand linguists to fill translation duties. Spanish is the highest-priority, but Ebonics is one of more than 100 other languages and dialects the agency needs help translating.

Ebonics is the popular term for what academics call African-American vernacular English. As linguist John Rickford explains, Ebonics is not just slang:

“Ebonics includes non-slang words like ashy (referring to the appearance of dry skin, especially in winter) which have been around for a while, and are used by people of all age groups. Ebonics also includes distinctive patterns of pronunciation and grammar, the elements of language on which linguists tend to concentrate because they are more systematic and deep-rooted.”

Rickford also quotes Toni Morrison’s words of appreciation for Ebonics and its “five present tenses”: “The worst of all possible things that could happen would be to lose that language.”

Translating Ebonics into ‘standard’ English has heretofore been the domain of humorists; examine the dry Wikipedia entries for “Gin and Juice” and “Regulate” for the best examples of this style. (via The Smoking Gun)

5 comments
scoutsadie
scoutsadie

As an atheist, I think the story of Noah depicts a very nasty and vengeful deity, and I won't be going to see this film; but I appreciate that here in the US, I get to make that decision for myself, thanks to the separation of religion and government.

anabellelee9
anabellelee9

"Youtube video that fueled the deadly attacks in Benghazi on the U.S. ambassador to Libya." Um...This is Time. The video was proven to have nothing to do with the attacks in Benghazi. This is quite well known.


jeremijohnson
jeremijohnson

These Muslims are still living in the ancient times. The stupidity they bring about is amazing. Its just a movie, and many people living in these countries really want to watch it and they have no options. Something need to be done about these countries. Its not just the movie but many human rights violating laws exist in these countries which often goes unreported by the media. 

SusanMills
SusanMills

@jeremijohnson I am a Muslim and I agree wholeheartedly with you. The whole fuss around the film is idiotic and there's no verse in scripture against depiction of prophets, they were human-beings after all. Besides, the film is trying to glorify Noah, not condemn or degrade him in any way. The problem lies with those so-called Islamic priests who think they know everything, they put themselves on pedestals and patronize everybody. We have the right to watch and judge. And whether they like it or not many people WILL watch it, on iTunes or any other place.