The Untrained Ear

The Untrained Ear

¨What’s bout to be the move?¨

¨Ion even know forreal!¨

¨I’m tryna go to the movies… I need a laugh¨

¨We gotta see a movie that’s gonna be the bid though¨

¨That Kevin Hart jawn did just come out...¨

¨Ard then. That’s the move¨

 One of my closest childhood friends and I were trying to figure out what we were going to do in order to keep us from staying bored how we already were. A conversation that to some will sound foreign and to others sound ignorant. Yet to us, it’s the language that’s most comfortable to speak. It is a combination of ¨Black English¨ and what I call ¨hood slang¨. Languages to me, but nonsense to most others.

  People who do not speak either of these languages, Black English or Hood Slang, may hear me speaking a foreign language and they usually do a series of things. The most common is a signature look. The look has ¨I bet she can’t even read correctly¨. Another reaction that’s common is the stare of confusion. A stare of disarray. The stare of uncertainty. My overall favorite reaction is when there’s a comment made. Usually it’s something as simple as ¨Huh?¨ or ¨What?¨ that’s said. A blatant remark that slips through their ignorant lips. People judge and base your knowledge of topics off of the way that others talk and carry themselves. It’s not fair or just.

¨I’m bored… ¨

¨Find something to do. I don’t know what to tell you!¨

¨You feel like takin me to H&M?¨

¨You got H&M money?¨

¨No. But you do! I ain’t gotta job.¨

¨Well I guess you ain’t goin to no H&M¨

¨MOMMM! You drawn...¨

I was bored over a long weekend when I had off from school. At the time, nothing was more important than subduing my outrageous shopping addiction. As most spoiled teenagers would, I resulted in asking my mother to take me on a quick shopping trip.

  A common tone of conversation that’s typically held in a Black English household.While reading it, plenty of people may think that how I speak is in no way shape or form appropriate to talk to your parent. That’s just like telling a French mother and daughters  duo to not speak French to each other. It’s our language. It may sound unusual to the untrained ear, but there’s really no other way to communicate. People try to connect the dots and interpret an entire life story by simply hearing how someone speaks. Except it doesn’t work that way. I can speak as ¨illiterate¨ as possible, but no one will care that English has always been one of my best and favorite classes. They won’t care that my mom is highly intelligent with multiple degrees.

   One summer a few years ago I attended a leaders conference camp that took place in Washington D.C. It hosted children from ages 11 to 15 that lived all over the United States. I was in a line to sign in and to get my room key. A girl in the line decided to spark a conversation with me and our conversation ended up taking a different path than what I had imagined.

¨Hi, Im Carolyn, what’s your name?¨

¨Hi Im Jamilah¨

¨Where are you from?¨

¨Philadelphia, How about you?¨

¨Really? I bet you eat Cheesesteaks every night for dinner and say all these weird words¨

  ¨Weird words¨? The way how I talk is weird because I live in Philadelphia?  


¨Hi, How are you?¨

¨I’m good and yourself¨

¨I’m well. Thanks for asking¨

  ¨Standard English¨ is a language where you have to make sure you pronounce all of the vowels, consonants, and syllables. There’s a lot of work that goes into just saying one word correctly. Just like many others in the world, I am also more than capable of speaking ¨Standard English¨.. For the simple fact that many people speak it, is the exact reason why I despise speaking it. If a situation does not cause for me to speak ¨proper¨, I will not do so. ¨Proper¨ to me includes pronouncing my words correctly, using correct grammar, and etc.I also despise it because I find it boring and it has no personality. It’s no fun. Speaking ¨Standard English¨ makes you sound like millions, if not billions of other people across the world.

   There’s nothing to differentiate you from the others that are out here in the world. The language is very general. You greet people saying things such as ¨Hi¨ or ¨Hello¨, and depart by saying ¨Good Bye¨. There’s no energetic approach to a conversation by saying ¨HEY¨ or  ¨Wassup¨ or leaving someone yearning to converse again by saying ¨See ya later¨. There was a quote once stated by Jay Danzie stated, ¨ Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.¨ Your trademark should be unique and like no other. Your business card should be fun and also like o other. And your logo should be all of the above. ¨Standard English is like a white business card with black font. Boring. Bland. Tedious. It’ll end up being just another unwanted conversation.

   All in all, there are so many other languages that can be spoken; the ones that are classified as languages and the ones that are not. Speaking in languages, dialect, and tones that are appealing to others should not be as judged as they are. Speaking different from someone else should be a great and appreciated thing. It’s great meeting someone who is different from yourself and it should be appreciated. Your identity is everything, but the way that you speak is not necessarily your identity.

Comments (6)

Fodie Camara (Student 2017)
Fodie Camara

You title drawled me and grab my attention. This essay is all about slang and how people talk in Philadelphia and how other people from other cites think that all we do is eat water ice and eat Cheesesteaks and etc. You had a great and agree with your point that you stated in your essay. Love it!

Sianneh Vesslee (Student 2017)
Sianneh Vesslee

A moment that had grab me was when you talked about that girl named Carolyn and how she made that comment about you because you told her where you from. I really liked your story and I absolutely agree with the point that your made in your essay. It was really good

Dejah Smith (Student 2017)
Dejah Smith

I loved how he beginning starts off with slang. Showing how us as an generation speak with each other. I think it grabbed my attention because I use this slang all the time. It is very eye catching because somebody who may not know what the piece is about will engage in it because it starts off with language they prefer to use. I also liked the reaction examples. This goes to show everyone does not speak like this and when you come across someone who doesn't, they are very confused. In the second half the piece I loved how it shows that yes, people can speak slang on a regular, but also know how to speak regular english. Or ¨professional¨ as some people would call it.

Crystal Taylor (Student 2017)
Crystal Taylor

1) The title of this essay grabbed my attention. It's very interesting, and I wanted to know what your story would be about what you mean by an untrained ear.

2) I learned that the languages people speak in their personal lives, others may view as "weird" or "improper". But, in all reality, it is not "weird" at all, it is just something new and should not be belittled because of that.

3) If I could add to this essay, I would reflect more on the section of the essay about the girl making the cheese steak comment. I would put in more analysis and reflection, and include how I felt.

Miranda Abazoski (Student 2017)
Miranda Abazoski

I really liked the beginning because it was eye-catching. The example you gave about the girl talking about cheese steaks was put in the right part because I feel like that is something non-Philly people mistake about us. The way you differentiated the many English languages was spot-on and the piece was well written.

Katarina Backo (Student 2017)
Katarina Backo

Something that really surprised me and grabbed my attention, was the part where the girl says: "Really? I bet you eat Cheesesteaks every night for dinner and say all these weird words" It is a stereotype, and it makes it look people in Philly only eat Cheesesteaks and are the only people that speak different.