Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Ghetto Language Thesis

Its time for another one of my thesis-es. (damn, will anyone EVER tell me how to pluralize the word "thesis"? This is the 2nd time I asked y'all!) Let us discuss the phenomena of sub-cultured American language. First of all, we do not speak English in this country. We speak American. There are many words in the American language that either aren't in the English language or have been altered for the comforts of the American tongue. As in other previously colonized lands by Great Britain, the English language has been modified (or bastardized if you ask the Brits) by the occupants. Thus, throughout this discussion, I will refer to what is commonly refered to as the English language will be referred to as American for the purposes of clarity.

Because of the very diverse population of our country, there are many different sub-dialects of American. Most of those dialects are regionalized such as the Cajun dialect or the Gullah dialect in South Carolina. However, with new, non-regionalized immigration that has occurred in the past 20 years, there poses a potential for American to be enhanced based on race. Latinos make up the vast majority of immigrants to the United States. For most of these immigrants, English is the second language to them. When one speaks a language to them that is not native to them there lies the possibilty for grammatical and syntactical errors during speech. For the purposes of brevity and continuity, we will exmine the phenomena of the "S" Additon. The "S" Addition is when a speaker adds an "s" to the end of various worlds. For example, if you have a latino friend who is not only 1st or 2nd generation but also lives in what is kindly called an "underserved community", he may ask you "Do you have any beers?" Now, slang-wise there is nothing wrong this sentence. However, technically when one refers to beer in the plural (as in 1 kind of beer in some form of bulk) the term to use is "beer", not "beers". A more notable example one where we may hear a domestic worker refer to childeren in the plural form. For example "Mrs Myers (pronounced 'my-jers') have 3 childrens." Note the pluralization of "children".

The most fascinating thing about this phenomenon is that this same aberation of American occurs in the "underserved community" of Blacks as well. It is most prevalent in the Mid-Atlantic region of the country. I can vouch for this as a Baltimore (Beeeee-MORE!!) resident. For example, last week I was walking through the parking lot of the Giant grocery store. I black man approached me and asked "hey Big Bro (pronounced 'brugh', rhyming with 'duh'), you going into the Giants?" As you can see, not only is this done in the Black community, it is also done in a a sense that is completely random as in this instance where the "S" Addition was applied to a proper noun as opposed to an improper noun.

Are these 2 sub-culture instances of the "S" Addition correlated? If so, how are they? The only correlation is that both instances are derived from underserved community members. When you live in a place like that, grammer is of less importance than making life comfortable for oneself. This usually involves attempting to make money as quickly as possible as opposed to investing time and effort into education to make substanstially more after recieving a certification or degree. In other words, the small picture always looks better than the big picture such as getting a part-time job at the car repair shop instead of taking a night class.

In conclusion, this is how slang is created and established. When a group of people uses language syntax that is different from the norm, the American language is modified and enhanced. So the next time someone tells you that you look better when your hairs are shaved, simply thank them for the comments, go to the Rite Aids and purchase some shaving creams.

7 comments:

Zulu said...

I wanted to type a comment and use this slang...but it proved to be too difficult for me. I am however familiar with this phenom and it drives me nuts...which would explain why I can't talk or write that way.

Brother Kojak said...

It is a part of a sub-culture that neither of us are familiar with. I can do it, but when I do it its blatent immitation.

chaparritadeoro said...

I live in suborbia and I do the same thing :P For example... "You want to eat some cereals?"

r. said...

I don't know how to dress myself everyday without my KeLoLo updates, man... hook a nekkid sista up...

r. said...

oh - and baltimore is balmer, hon... you'z ain't been there long enough...

Brother Kojak said...

SHiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!!! "r" must be smokin' that stuff!! Here we go along the racial lines again. **rolling eyes**
WHITE FOLKS...say Balmer. I've been a resident for over 10 years, and every summer prior to that. BLACK FOLKS...say "Baldamore" as if there is a "d" instead of a "t" in the name.

As far as KeyLo-Lo is concerned, she has toned down a bit. The last outfit she had on was a Bebe low cut tee, some tight canary pants, and some 3" sandals. I was surprised she had such pretty feet given the shoes she chooses to wear.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, I am an English person, so forgive me if I am missing anything culturally here, and I would like to say that I do not consider American a 'bastardisation'. Your language often follows more logical paths of spelling in relation to pronunciation than English English, re. color/colour, and this is due to most of your forefathers leaving Britain at a time of unsettled spelling and coming from 'underpriveleged areas'themselves. It's even possible that they were among those who rejected the King James Bible, one of the most influencial books of the time.
So it's a little harsh to find fault with someone for overextending the logical path of pluralisation to irregular words, expecially if you yourself forget sometimes when to put the apostrophe in 'it's'.