Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ignorance is Dis

I don't particularly like the definition of "Ignorance." It makes no reference to the root word "ignore". Ignore- to refrain from noticing or recognizing. Many people in the low income bracket are ignorant.... I know... folks in high income brackets are too. I would argue that they can more afford to be. Some ignore that something called standard english exists. It's not that there is no access. The libraries are free and there are plenty of examples on T.V. What some folks in the African American below the poverty line community speak is way beyond Ebonics with which I don't really have a problem.
I want a word that says ignorant by choice. It's probably in the dictionary somewhere.
I'm trying to figure out how to handle the ignorant people in my daughter's life. She is becoming very race conscious person. Black people my age still talk about "good" and "bad" hair and delineate between light and dark skinned African Americans.
Getting back to the language thang, when people are totally oblivious to standard english it strikes me as reverse snobbism without the power. So snobbism is snobbism. As most of you know, if educated black folk us standard english around certain brothas and sistahs they/we are branded as "sellouts" and "toms" by some. Some of this is rooted in anti-intellectualism which cuts a swath across all socio-economic and color lines. this attitude has been showering down from President Bush since he has been in office with his C+ self.
For many sub-cultures the adoption of standard english can signal the "movin' on up (to the east, west, north, south side)" and out and away from "yall" syndrome which certainly does exist.
With my daughter I am trying to instil the multilingual theory of American language. She can talk all the slang and Ebonics she wants as long as she learns standard english and knows when to use it. Of course the ultimate dilemma is what to do when you are faced with both groups simultaneously. You know, you colleagues want to go on an adventure into "the hood" for lunch and ya run into somebody you know. Do you give them dabs and a hearty "What up my Nig?" or do you feign ingnorance with, "Sir do I know you?" Well "Nig" usually isn't my vocabulary but I've always reverted back to the language of my roots which is actually both. So I speak what the recipient is most comfortable hearing. My standard english is the "I gotta get paid" language in the world of the Anglo-American workplace. I must admit however, that I have introduced black and country and urban colloquiallisms that I use into the workplace and even into lectures to mostly white folk. On one level to know a culture is to speak its language and there are many things we say in our communities that have a certain elegance and creativity against which standard english pales.
Do you know the difference between "sang"as a present tense noun and "sing?" In my community you can be corrected if you say, "Aretha sure can sing!" likely response, "No honey, Aretha can sang!"
I heard you but I "ain't tryin' to hear" that noise. Nameen?
Do you "lightweight" understand me, "yo?"
What is the difference between "excuse me" and "excuse you?" Excuse you can save you a lot of words when someone has offended you in some way... anyway.
Well these examples aren't necessarily in the realm of ebonics like replacing "th" with "d" like in dis for this, udder for other and so on. One of my favorite parts of ebonics to speak is the "aspect marking"...that is the use of forms of be to mark aspect in verb phrases. He be steady tryin' ta teach me "correct english." He be sayin' all dat stuff that I ain't tryin' to hear.
Well many countries get into the fight to preserve the language. I remember years ago the French wanted to outlaw the use to the American word "hotdog". In the southwest USA and other places the push is on to make (standard) english the "official" language. this makes since to me for the sake of uniform agreed upon communication. Language is hard enough even within a locale or family. However, I would like to see the walls of ignorance and lack of acceptance on both sides come down. Thusfar the only thing I can see is that the right or wrong is sole decided by whomever is in charge.

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