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Men’s Rights Redditors find “ebonics” hilarious

The regulars over on the Men’s Rights Subreddit are currently getting amused and/or outraged by the existence of a book titled “Girl, Get That Child Support,” a guide to help single mothers track down deadbeat dads and get the child support they are owed. A few of them were apparently so overstimulated by the book’s title, and a reference to “Baby Mamas” in the subtitle, that this little conversation ensued:

 

Note the upvotes and the (scarcity of) downvotes. And the complete lack of anyone saying “hey, you’re being racist assholes.”

The Men’s Rights Movement, the “most significant civil rights movement of the 3rd millennium.”

 

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Alex
9 years ago

“ebonics”? What on earth is this? I don’t speak racist.

Viscaria
Viscaria
9 years ago

I’m gonna drop some uncomfortable ling student knowledge on your racist asses:

AAE.
It’s a dialect of English, just like whatever dialect you happen to speak.
The only difference between your dialect (presuming you speak the prestige dialect in your area) and AAE is that our society has decided that White, middle-class people are inherently better than Black people, and that therefore the native language of White, middle-class people is the “proper” way of speaking. The marginalization of AAE could not exist without racism. Congrats on being a part of the problem.

Also, WTF, “Ebonics”?? It’s 2012.

Polliwog
Polliwog
9 years ago

“ebonics”? What on earth is this? I don’t speak racist.

IIRC, it started out as a well-intentioned term to try to describe black American vernacular, but quickly got picked up by racist morons as a way to claim that black people were so dumb they didn’t even speak English, har har.

pecunium
pecunium
9 years ago

It was related to things Viscaria said, and to think Polliwog said. Because sounding white, and midwestern, is the privileged dialect in the US, and lots of kids in Oakland didn’t speak that way, the school system tried to get extra money to teach them, “proper” English.

Which led to a lot (A LOT) of racist shit.

Viscaria
Viscaria
9 years ago

Yeah, sorry, “Ebonics” was the first term used to describe the dialect that is now called either “African American English” or “African American Vernacular English”, the dialect that that many Black speakers control across the Unted States. I prefer AAE to AAVE, since “vernacular” implies it’s not a fully-functioning, independent language. Anyway, Polliwog’s right, the term was quickly taken over by racists.

Viscaria
Viscaria
9 years ago

Pecunium is a sneaky ninja!

katz
9 years ago

AAVE is the term I learned; too bad it’s not that widely known.

pecunium
pecunium
9 years ago

Pecunium is an old fart, who remembers when this was all new; since he was living in Calif. at the time. It was while I was still planning to be a journalist.

It also relates to language, which I happen to rather like.

Alex
9 years ago

Learn something new every day. I didn’t even know there was a proper term for it, but I guess it makes sense. So…do white people speak in “ivorics” then?

Rutee Katreya
9 years ago

MRAs: Looking out for the rights o fmen, so long as those men have the common decency to be white, straight, cis, and middle class

Xtra
Xtra
9 years ago

I’d prefer to speak ebonics than jerkonics.

Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

MRAs: Once you’ve denied one privilege, the rest come easy!

Falconer
Falconer
9 years ago

The whole Ebonics thing was big when I was about 13 to 15.

Somehow I got the impression that part of it was an attempt to teach black students in AAE rather than “proper” English because black students would do better with teachers speaking AAE? But I fear I have got a badly mangled impression.

The history of AAE is fascinating but something I haven’t pursued deeply. As you might expect, it grew out of mixing African dialects with the English of the slavemasters in the States. Jamaican Patois and Haitian Creole have similar roots in mixing African dialects with English and French, respectively.

Language is fun, but often it is used to suggest that speakers of certain dialects are stupid or uneducated. I have got no beef with “ain’t,” and have been known to use it myself, but sadly it’ll hurt your chances of getting a job here in the States if you use it in an interview.

Falconer
Falconer
9 years ago

Nope, looks like I had a somewhat accurate impression after all.

For students whose primary dialect was “Ebonics”, the Oakland resolution mandated some instruction in that dialect, both for “maintaining the legitimacy and richness of such language… and to facilitate their acquisition and mastery of English language skills.”

BlackBloc
BlackBloc
9 years ago

>>MRAs: Looking out for the rights o fmen, so long as those men have the common decency to be white, straight, cis, and middle class

I think they’re okay with upper class as well. So “at least middle class”?

Nitpicky nitpicky.

shigekuni
9 years ago

I recommend Lisa J. Green’s rather good “African American English: a linguistic introduction”, and for the history of it John Russell Rickford’s “Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English”. Those are the two I have.

Also, wtf? That’s easily some of the more racist shit I’ve seen. Fuckin hell.

M Dubz
M Dubz
9 years ago

Yet more proof that the MRA movement is all about providing a space for crotchety straight white dudes to complain about how bad their lives are.
Let me go get a thimble to hold my shock.

Falconer
Falconer
9 years ago

I have to go tune the world’s tiniest violin. Where’s my loupe?

katz
9 years ago

M Dubz: you can use it to store a tiny violin, too.

katz
9 years ago

DAMMIT

欧阳
欧阳
9 years ago

It seems like he’s been tagging everything lately with “I’m Totally Being Sarcastic.”

Does anyone else agree that we realize when he’s being sarcastic, and no one who follows this blog would really be sensitive enough to think otherwise?

Ruby Hypatia
Ruby Hypatia
9 years ago

Yep, don’t speak red neck during an interview either. You will not be perceived as intelligent.

Falconer
Falconer
9 years ago

Yep, don’t speak red neck during an interview either. You will not be perceived as intelligent.

But there shouldn’t be anything wrong with speaking redneck, ebonics, or anything else in a casual situation.

@katz: I am the night.

abeegoesbuzz
abeegoesbuzz
9 years ago

Thx for the job tips, Ruby. Prolly depends on who you’re interviewing with, though, huh?

Quackers
Quackers
9 years ago

@Ruby

That’s the first thing I thought of too. What about heavy southern accents? how is that any different? although I think the whole “ha ha dumb redneck” is classicist.

I don’t know much about AAE topic but I always though it was sort of like an accent? it’s just another way of talking, what is the big deal? oh yeah…racism *sighs*

ithiliana
9 years ago

I have some training in sociolinguistics, so yes: AAVE and AAE (older term: Black Vernacular English) are linguistic terms for the language that (by one of the commoner definitions) has combined some West African features and Standard English features. LInguistics as a discipline tries to avoid the elitism and prescriptivism of the proponents of “proper grammar” (Language Log is a lovely blog by linguists who take on the “Strunk and White” proponents) which was based on rules written down by 18th century clergyman (or maybe 17th century, I am bad with dates) when they wanted to make “English” (used in court, church, government) look like Latin (i.e. you cannot split an infinitive in Latin, so you mustn’t in English). Their vernacular because the basis for Standard or Received British.

The fights over which grammar should be taught in schools (linguistics’ descriptive or functional grammar, vs. grammarians “good” English) have been taking place ever since. The Ebonics controversy did involve a school trying to educate (majority) white teachers that AAVE was in fact a language (or dialect!) with rules, just as their language (or dialects) were.

Linguistic joke: “A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.” The “best” form of the language (spoken or written) is that associated with the groups in power.

If you want to read up on the issues, I can recommend GENEVA SMITHERMAN (I adore her work):

https://www.msu.edu/~smither4/

http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=9XKa_oeh_PoC&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=Ebonics+controversy+Smitherman&ots=q0UEb19fU_&sig=yY6ba4XLmm4Dcott0eglYTOKBkU#v=onepage&q=Ebonics%20controversy%20Smitherman&f=false

ithiliana
9 years ago

There are other stigmatized dialects (everybody speaks a dialect; nobody ‘speaks’ Standard English in the sense of syntax, and rarely, diction); also, everybody has multiple registers (think of them as sub-languages) they can use: in 20 years of teaching, only ONE student in a first year comp class said he would write the same letter about his weekend to his grandmother, his best friend from high school, and his preacher, and he was roundly boo-ed by the rest of the class. There are professional registers; there are casual registers; there are in-group registers.

There’s also code switching: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code-switching

Some of the most stigmatized accents (accent is only ONE part of a dialect) in the US besides AAVE are: working class Queens (think Fran Dreischer’s THE NANNY), and what is mistakenly called “Southern redneck” (meaning dialects associated with working class whites–the mistake is because there are multiple Southern dialects, and not all are “white” either).

ithiliana
9 years ago

What many people in the US don’t realize is that “American English” is only one of multiple World Englishes (due to imperial/colonialist past), and that the World Englishes (25 of them?) all have different grammar rules (in the prescriptivist sense–i.e. in standard British writing rules, the comma splice is not an error). (They also don’t realize that many Brits look down at American English!) Here’s an article on American Southern English:

http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=zvFtOr5_BZAC&oi=fnd&pg=PA255&dq=AAVE+and+Southern+dialects&ots=TFD-bswpba&sig=lKpXx7rYN_EUGBuyRpqFuH7orG4#v=onepage&q=AAVE%20and%20Southern%20dialects&f=false

Viscaria
Viscaria
9 years ago

@Quackers

That’s the first thing I thought of too. What about heavy southern accents? how is that any different? although I think the whole “ha ha dumb redneck” is classicist.

Any non-prestige dialect is going to probably count against you in a job interview, unfortunately. That’s why a lot of AAE speakers are bi-dialectical; they speak AAE at home and the local prestige dialect at work. However, AAE has specific racist associations with it, stuff about Black people being unable to learn and “articulate” black people being the only worthy ones, gross stuff like that. But yeah, it definitely doesn’t help. If you’re a Southern speaker in the heart of the South, though, your dialect is the prestige one for the area.

@Ithiliana

Linguistic joke: “A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.”

Hee hee, that’s my signature in the forums.

Viscaria
Viscaria
9 years ago

Ithiliana is both faster and better-informed than me! :-$

ithiliana
9 years ago

I can also recommend as a reference work if you can get to it THE DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN REGIONAL ENGLISH (five volumes) which is a dictionary (basically) of how people speak in different regions of the country–there’s such a blend of languages here all of which affected regional English accents and diction, that it’s ludicrous for any native American speaker to pride themselves on the “purity” of their language.

“Purity” in regard to language issues is as big a warning sign as “purity” in regard to sexual issues!

*takes off sociolinguistics hat and sneaks away*

ithiliana
9 years ago

@Viscaria: High fives ya!

There are multiple stories by African Americans who “talk white” (a very racist usage, but common), that is, who can speak in a standard register calling for apartments or jobs and being told to come on over, then when they are SEEN, suddenly the apartment or job has already been taken.

Viscaria
Viscaria
9 years ago

Oh, and I said “If you’re a Southern speaker in the heart of the South, though, your dialect is the prestige one for the area,” but that’s a simplification, really. There’s still an overarching North American prestige dialect, but it doesn’t affect you in the same way in a regional area.

Rutee Katreya
9 years ago

Yep, don’t speak red neck during an interview either. You will not be perceived as intelligent.

I don’t take my tips on that from people who argue like abject morons. Kudos on a week-ish flounce though.

Seriously though, does this look like a job training seminar? No? What about the original reddit thread? Oh, sitll no? It’s idiots being racist asshats while also being misogynists and yous till have to try to defend the form of idiocy because… you had to double down on racism?

Lady Zombie
Lady Zombie
9 years ago

Because sounding white, and midwestern, is the privileged dialect in the US…

Hehehehehe! Midwesterner here. I don’t think the Midwestern drawl-twang combo is considered the most privileged of all the American dialects. In fact, when my research group went to Psychology conferences, I used to tell my professor that I didn’t want to speak because I was mortified at the thought of “sounding like a hick.” I even went out of my way to sound non-regional so people couldn’t place where I was from.

Funny story (at least to me). Growing up, we had a family friend who would drop her G’s and add an R to wash.

“Are you goin’ to the weddin’?”
“I’m runnin’ some errands.”
“I got to get home. I’ve got to warsh my laundry.”

When I became aware of my reginonal speech quirks, it started to really get under my skin. One day, when an aquaintance pronounced wash as warsh, I said, “Spell wash.” They, of course, spelled it correctly. I asked them where is the R was in wash. At first they were baffled, then they understood what I was driving at. I just got rolled eyes and more twanging.

Anyway. I guess the privilege comes in that no matter what dialect is in question, as long as it “sounds white” it’s acceptable.

Lady Zombie
Lady Zombie
9 years ago

I should follow up and say that I was also being shitty about “hicks” back then. Which was classist. I still cringe though when I hear warsh. THERE’S NO R IN WASH DAMMIT!

;)~

Stephanie
Stephanie
9 years ago

“The Men’s Rights Movement, the ‘most significant civil rights movement of the 3rd millennium.'”

I just lost it there.

Sharculese
Sharculese
9 years ago

Yep, don’t speak red neck during an interview either. You will not be perceived as intelligent.

yeah, as someone who goes to law school in the south, i can’t stress enough how this is horseshit

pecunium
pecunium
9 years ago

The “don’t split an infinitive”, and “dont’t end a sentence with a preposition” were actually being promulgated by an American.

I suppose I should have been more specific in what part of the mid-west is the preferred dialect. It’s the Norteastern Ohio/Western Pennsylvanian.

And it’s for the same reason that RP is the “generic” British dialect. Broadcasting.

Falconer, I didn’t want to get into the way the Oakland School District was trying to get, English as a Second Language money, because I was afraid of reinforcing the underlying racism of “ebonics”, with the idea the teachers didn’t think it was actually English.

Quackers
Quackers
9 years ago

@Viscaria

Thanks for clarifying for me! 🙂

random6x7
random6x7
9 years ago

Depends on what part of western Pennsylvania. Pittsburghese is definitely not Midwestern Newscaster English. I’d also have to agree that using the newscaster accent (I’ve heard that it was the US accent that everyone in the US can easily understand, which is why it became what the radio announcers and newscasters used) isn’t always the best idea in formal or professional situations. In my field, you have a hard time if you don’t learn to Good Ol’ Boy the locals, and part of that is how you speak.

Shaenon
9 years ago

Funny story (at least to me). Growing up, we had a family friend who would drop her G’s and add an R to wash.

Pittsburghese! The language of my people, yinz!

hellkell
hellkell
9 years ago

Oh, yay, Ruby’s back and as brilliant as ever. Joy.

LBT
LBT
9 years ago

Aw man, I was hoping to wave my Linguistics Major flag, but people have already beat me to it. Because as someone who’s gotten into Fights On The Internet about ‘ain’t’ being a real word, prescriptive linguistics as a tool of dickery PISSES ME THE FUCK OFF.

Also, from the South, I can tell you for a fact that there are DIFFERENT Southern accents, some of which are treated more nicely than others. There are still big-time class differences. And it annoys the hell out of me the idea that the way you talk makes you better or more educated or whatever.

Eek, I always knew it as Ebonics. If that’s verboten, I’ll switch out.

LBT
LBT
9 years ago

Also… wait there are people in the US who DON’T drop their ending Gs?

HOLY SHIT I NEVER KNEW

pecunium
pecunium
9 years ago

Cleveland is the more typical, “newscaster english”.

Shaenon, you’re from Pittsburgh? I was born there.

emmitt
emmitt
9 years ago

“It has often been stated by etymologists that the Negro has introduced no African words to the language. This is true, but it is equally true that he has made over a great part of the tongue to his liking and has his revision accepted by the ruling. No one listening to a Southern white man talk could deny this.”
-Zora Neale Hurston, “Characteristics of Negro Expression”

So even as far back as 1934 (and before, presumably) AAVE wasn’t even something that was exclusively spoken by Blacks. But everything’s worse when it comes out the mouth of a Black person, I guess. Man it would probably mess these dudes up the way I just drop highly informal Spanish in between all that AAVE when I talk.

Polliwog
Polliwog
9 years ago

Hehehehehe! Midwesterner here. I don’t think the Midwestern drawl-twang combo is considered the most privileged of all the American dialects.

It depends on the Midwestern accent. Standard American English – a.k.a. the “newscaster” accent – is very similar to what is spoken around Iowa-ish – but, of course, accents don’t conform neatly to state lines; they flow into all sorts of weird little pockets, so there’s tons of people within supposedly “standard” regions with decidedly non-“standard” accents. I live pretty much on the border between two accents myself – most people north of me speak in something approximating the “newscaster” accent, and as you go south, the accent rapidly gets further away from that until you hit the full-on Ozark twang. Which is still Midwestern, and definitely not a privileged accent outside its home region, since it’s roughly what many would call a “hillbilly accent.”

(As for me, my accent is perfect “newscaster” except for one word – “for.” Unless I consciously stop and think about it, it always comes out with a more twangy schwa sound instead of an O – “fer,” basically. I like to think it gives me character. 😉 )

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