All Articles Tagged "language"
African Americans love Twitter. In fact, according to studies, blacks are more likely than whites to join Twitter. So it’s no wonder blacks are driving national Twitter slang.
A recent study by computer scientist Jacob Eisenstein of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and his colleagues found that much of the shorthand used on the social networking site evolves in cities with large African American populations before spreading out more widely, reports The Root.
And according to BBC News, “Spelling bro, slang for brother (male friend or peer) as bruh began in the southeastern U.S. (where it reflects the local pronunciation) before finally jumping to southern California. The emoticon ‘-__-’ (denoting mild annoyance) began in New York and Florida before colonizing both coasts and gradually reaching Arizona and Texas.”
Why does this happen? One possibility, notes The Root, is that innovations spread by simple diffusion from person to person. Another suggestion is that bigger population areas “exert a stronger attraction on neologisms, so that they go first to large cities by a kind of gravitational pull.” Still, others think words might spread initially within some minority groups but remain invisible to the majority.
As it has been widely reported, African Americans are early adopters of new technology. And, as we recently noted, blacks are also over-indexing on sites like Tumblr.
Thankfully, I work in a very lax, very creative environment. Pretty much anything goes. Between Maury – show watching, celebrity shade throwing (looking at you Wyclef) and impromptu jam sessions, clowning is expected on any given day. Now, let me first explain that our office is mostly comprised of women, with 2-3 men in the mix. So it can be assumed that with the spirited conversations that take place, there is some equally colorful language from the men and women alike.
Usually, it’s not an issue for either party. Or it wasn’t until a couple of days ago.
We were talking about the plausibility of certain celebrities being gay. Somewhere in the middle of the conversation my boss, who is a woman, said “…but he sucked his d!ck.” Then someone else said it and then I said it. In the span of 40 seconds, at least three women had said the word d!ck. Finally, one of my male co-workers had had enough. He interrupted the whole conversation, face all twisted up: “Language, Language!”
Oh, that was interesting. Every cuss word under the sun has been uttered in this office at one point or another; but d!ck was a non-negotiable, huh? Apparently so. I didn’t take offense, in fact I strongly believe in avoiding words that offend others. I’ll just use them in front of people who don’t mind. Plus, how many times during the work day do you need to say d!ck?
It was surprising but the more I thought about it, I’d heard another man say something to that effect. Once my sister and I were having a private conversation and my father just so happened to overhear us use the word d!ck. Naturally, he was not having it. I could understand that. For him, hearing his little girls say that word probably elicited images he was certainly uncomfortable with. After all, that word, d!ck is almost only used in a sexual/demeaning context.
So maybe my coworker doesn’t want to think about us in that context, which was interesting. In fact, the whole concept of some words just being uncouth has always interested me. Back in sixth grade, I remember cussing in front of my lockermate/friend and in true sincerity, he told me that wasn’t very ladylike and subsequently not very attractive. *Clutches pearls* Well!
In retrospect, it’s amazing that a boy at 12 or 13 was so adamant and clear about his dislikes at such a profanity-filled time of uncertainty and insecurity.
I mean, I’m fully aware of double standards, I’m just always surprised when they’re so blatantly thrust in my face.
This whole incident made me ask myself, are there any words I can’t stand to hear men say? I definitely have a couple. As much as it dominates mainstream music, I can’t stand to hear the word bicth too much in a song or from the lips of a real life man in a real life context. But I don’t know if I would have gone out of my way to correct one of my male coworkers for using it. (Not that I minded him, feeling comfortable enough to “check” us.) I’d just resign to judge them silently.
What about you, ladies, has a man ever told you your language wasn’t very ladylike? Did you take offense to that warning or did you take his words to heart?
As I made my way down the street today,with a lot on my mind as I headed to a doctor’s appointment, I found myself stopped at one of the many lights that separate me from my train station. While waiting, thinking that I should have checked the weather before I hit the streets in tight black jeans, I heard a mother say the following to one of the two children she was trying to give orders to. I guess he might have been calling himself having an attitude:
“Unfold your damn arms! I don’t know why the f**k you be actin’ like yo a** don’t know how to listen.”
…When I was young, most parents didn’t embarrass their children like that when at home, let alone curse them out like they stole something on the streets. They might put a finger in your face or put some bass in their voice in public, but you got yourself together just in time before they let you know you were going to get tore up when you both got home. In fact, my mother could make me feel just as guilty and bad by simply giving me the “Girl, you had better stop unless you want to see my belt when we get home” face or letting me know that she was truly disappointed in my behavior. But these days, people are talking uglier to their kids, referring to them as even uglier names and just can’t discipline them without calling them something you can find in Urban rather than Webster’s Dictionary.
Not only was this woman’s statement to the little boy embarrassing as people watched him get berated on the street, but it was unnecessarily harsh. I know that children can often be a hardheaded pain, but it always makes me cringe when I hear an adult curse like a sailor at a child who will most likely soak in that language and use it on someone else; Whether that be a classmate or a teacher who gets called everything but a child of God because they tried to keep them in check. People underestimate how much their outbursts or explicit conversations with other adults around their children can influence the language kids use with others. And sadly, using strong and unacceptable language to address children has become all too common.
Need another example? Well, just a few days ago, as I walked with a friend back to her place post-church, I heard a young mother talking to her friend while pushing around her son in a stroller. Out of nowhere, instead of calling him by the name she gave him, she chose to say, “Yeah, that little n***a tryna walk already.” As I watched my friend’s face turn up, I asked her, “Did she just call that little boy a “n***a”? She had, and after the fact, she laughed about it and went on with her day with her friend. I’m sure as the day went on she probably called him a lot more than that.
I don’t know about you, but it seems as though if folks aren’t cursing out their kids like Mo’Nique in Precious, they’re referring to them as everything from little “n***as” to “muthaf****s” and more. And they’re clearly doing it everywhere too: on the streets, in the stores (grocery AND retail), at the parks and at restaurants. A few are older parents, but many I find cursing up a storm are young parents, ones barely out of high school, maybe a few years into college who don’t seem enthusiastic about the responsibility that’s become a constant in their lives. I often wonder if these parents are the same ones who we hear about holding their babies under scalding water because they cried too much and too long, and starving them because they resent them. These stories get people’s blood boiling and remind folks of why not EVERY woman is fit to have children. I guess it’s a testament to the fact that if people aren’t ready to handle their responsibilities, and only find themselves yelling rather than talking to their kids, they might want to rethink their sexual activities and doing what’s putting them in these positions in the first place.
Maybe I’m being too judgmental, but I can’t see how cursing a child does them any kind of real good. All I know is that patience is wearing thin and the results are hurt and confused faces like the little boy I watched on the street today. And if you were wondering, after his mother’s rant, he looked like someone told him that he wasn’t and was never going to be anything. I’m not saying she was is a bad parent, but that behavior would probably rip her out of the running for “Mother of the Year.” Nowadays, both parents and kids are having the tantrums, and it seems as though it’s the parent who could use a time out…
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Let me be clear in saying, I’m talking Louisiana Creole descent. Sorry if you clicked and were looking for one of the many other kinds. But where was I?
Frenchcreole.com identifies Creole people as a broad cultural group of people of all races who share a French or Spanish background. No matter how you come to the conclusion that one is Creole (and please, let’s not get into the colorstruck aspects of it all), there are many people who identify as such, and they speak a wide variety of languages. In our random travels through the Internet (or da Intanetz as we like to call it), we were surprised to find a number of celebrities who are of the Louisiana Creole heritage. If you’re nosey like us, you probably want to know who. Check it out.
Sheila Escovedo is hands down one of the coolest people to ever pick up a set of drumsticks and go to town on the drums, and if you didn’t know, she’s also of Mexican and Louisiana Creole heritage. Her father, famous drummer Pete Escovedo, is Mexican-American, while her mother, Juanita Escovedo (formerly Gardere), is French and black. I’ve been a fan since homegirl showed up in Krush Groove and dropped The Glamorous Life, but I can say that I didn’t know she was Creole…
As I look up the word “ghetto” in the dictionary, I find an array of meanings. For instance, according to Merriam-Webster, a ghetto is:
- a quarter of a city in which Jews were formerly required to live.
- a quarter of a city in which members of a minority group live especially because of social, legal, or economic pressure.
- an isolated group; a situation that resembles a ghetto especially in conferring inferior status or limiting opportunity.
Maybe it has to something to do with that last two interpretations (do ONLY minorites live in the ghetto by the way?), but when I look at these random definitions of ghetto, I don’t understand the way the term is being used out in the streets on a daily basis. Or specifically, the way I saw it used the other day. While trolling on Facebook at the end of the night just to see what people were up to/talking about, a former classmate from elementary school and high school was telling the world about a major annoyance that occurred during her day. That’s cool, people vent on Facebook pretty often. However, her comment was so random to me that it bothered me for the rest of that evening. The young woman said something to the effect of, “Why are these preppy girls acting ghetto during my lunch break singing “Bug A Boo” by Destiny’s Child?” And yes, she was white.
Maybe I needed to be there. She didn’t go into details about the encounter, but from the sound of it, because they made the choice to sing out loud, and maybe even because it was “Bugaboo” (and not some Adele), they were behaving in the way it’s assumed folks from the actual ghetto behave. Perhaps it was because she was a white woman, who like me (a black chick), grew up in the suburbs and probably hadn’t ever really had to encounter a ghetto of any kind, maybe that’s why it bothered me so much. But either way, her statement literally brought out one of those horrendously long eye-roll moments.
I think it bothered me so much because ever since college (I went to a predominately black high school in an area hit with “white flight”), I’ve heard a wealth of young white women and men I wasn’t highly exposed to before use the term ghetto to describe people who are black, or non-blacks who have an appreciation for black culture and the likes. Saying that something or someone is ghetto with a negative connotation attached implies that folks who live in ghettos all tend to act a certain way–a negative way. Especially when you throw up that eyebrow, curl your lip and say it with such passion. It has become clear that I’m not the only person who has noticed this trend (remember “Ish White Girls Say to Black Girls”? That was one of them.) Really, what exactly does the chicks singing “Bug A Boo” have to do with people growing up in a place of inferior opportunity or of social, economic and legal pressures? Fill me in if you get it because I just don’t.
In the latest conservative fumble, Politico reports that an Iowa based group is now retracting a line in its marriage vow which suggested that black children born into slavery had a better family life than black children born today.
The marriage vow, created by Family Leader, came out last week and was signed by Michelle Bachmann. The original preamble read “slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”
The group’s officials said that “after careful consideration and wise insight and input from valued colleagues,” they decided to remove the offensive language from their preamble. They still maintain that all must work to strengthen marriages between one man and one woman.
Bachmann’s spokeswoman said that she signed the candidate vow, which made no reference to slavery, and relayed the congresswoman’s belief that “slavery was horrible.” It’s unclear whether or not Bachmann actually read the preamble.
Of course, as with any other outrageously offensive comment, the group claims it wasn’t meant to be racist, “just a fact that back in the days of slavery there was usually a husband and a wife.”
I don’t know what it is about the word “female”, but it sets my teeth on edge. Perhaps it’s because it’s typically delivered alongside some sort of contemptuous statement: “I can’t stand females who don’t know how to cook” or “It’s too many females out here trying to get chose when they not even all of that.” It sounds animal-like and hateful. And you never hear women or men say “males”. What’s the deal?
Marcus, a 28 year old account exec, agrees: “That’s not a word I’d use to describe a woman. It sounds low-class, like something the brothers who hang on the corner all day would say. I just was raised to respect ladies a bit more than that.” He says that he never used the word, even when he was younger, but “I know a few guys who do. The same guys that don’t usually have that many dates,” he laughs.