Thursday, January 22, 2009

Black English?

This is nonsense (but it's so silly, it's worth reading the whole thing):

"Barack Obama's inaugural address was the first in a long time to resound powerfully enough to be worthy of marble. However, it was the first in the 220-year history of the custom in another way: its seasoning of black cadence. This was even more exhilarating in that the cadence played an integral part in the power of the oration. Black English is a matter not just of slang, but of sentence structure and sound (why you can tell most black people's race over the phone, which is proven in studies). Some blacks use all three; Obama is one of the many who wields mostly the sound. Listen to the way he often ends sentences on a higher pitch than, say, Tom Brokaw would, with that preacherly hang-in-the-air. Or the way he often pronounces "history" as "historih," "ability" as "abilitih." His rendition of the word responsibility was indicative: with a cadence typical of Black English, capped by a final "ih." No President has ever intoned sentences in this way, because they were not black. Contrary to the fabulistic notion that gets around here and there that Black English is an African grammar with English words, the sentence structure is basically a blend of regional British dialects that slaves heard from their masters and the indentured servants you learned about in grade school. The sound, however, is partly a legacy of the African languages the slaves spoke. Especially, the melodic quality of Black English, heightened in sermons and speeches, is a legacy of the fact that in many African languages, pitch is as important in conveying what words mean as accent. In the way he said responsibility, he was using language in a way that is warp and woof of the grammar of, for example, his father's native language Luo. . . "

Obama grew up in Indonesia (with his white Anglo mom and Indonesian step dad, attending school with native Indonesians) and in Hawaii (among white Anglo, Asian and Pacific Island Hawaiians). He then went to preppy and Ivy League private colleges in California and New England. He never lived in a black community until well in his 20's.

His use of "Black English" is as authentic as the Texas drawls of Connecticut / DC / New England raised and educated George Bush, Jr. and Sr., i.e., not at all.

(And, he barely met his father. He certainly didn't pick up Kenyan Luo cadence from him.)


SpeakDog said...

Is there anything Obama does that's NOT awesome?

This Messiah/Greatest Human Ever to Walk the Face Of The Earth schtick is getting old, fast.

Barry Jay Warsch said...

Obama's "black speech" (to use the author's term) is no different than Madonna's British accent - - a total put on.