What are you talking about?

Over the past few weeks we have studied the art of language and why it is very special. We watched a video showing people and the different vocabularies they have from each other and accents. It showed what makes groups different from each other. We were assigned this project called the language autobiography which is what you are reading now. I've learned much from this unit and hope you can learn more from my paper.

My cousin from Washington D.C. and I have two different vocabularies that we use. Here in Philly, our city-wide word is “jawn,” which is pretty much our version of a noun because it can be anything or anyone. In Washington, they have no idea what that word means and have never heard it used in a sentence unless they spent time here. When my cousin was staying with me and my family for a funeral, we were sitting in my room watching sportscenter when his friend called. He started talking on the phone with him and after about 5 minutes of talking he yelled, “Yo I’m so clutch.” I said “What?” He explained that when he said that he was expressing that since he was right about a bet and he won he was now considered “Clutch.” This confused me because this was the first time I’ve heard this. So later that day we went to the basketball court behind my house. I said during a game of basketball that I was “frying him” and that “my jumpshot was chicken”.

He looked at me with a confused look and then he asked, "Ya jumpshot what?”

I said "My jumper chicken. That’s the word we use here. What do yall use in DC?"

He said, "We just say our jumpshot butta."

“Oh okay, we used to say that but then we started using different words like cheese, and chicken, and how when you make a jumpshot in someone face you say “Facial” because it’s funny and it makes sense in this situation.”

He answered back that they say that back home also because it’s pretty much a universal basketball slang term. We continued our one on one game and I posted him up and scored on him. I said “I just took you to the weight room, get your weight up youngboul.“ He laughed because of my statement. I kept forgetting he was from Washington D.C. and they don’t have the same vocab we have. I explained that taking someone to the weight room is just posting someone up and scoring on them and that youngboul is a word we use for someone younger than us or just a word to make fun of someone. Language can help you get a better understanding of people, so you can befriend them and won’t be left out in the dark in a conversation. In the past I believed that language was just something we spoke and was exclusive to a certain race and could be taught to another if willing or forced. I didn’t think it had any meaning behind it or could be looked at with a deeper view.

Over the weekend we continued to have conversations and discovered a few more new words from each other’s vocab. One word he used that wasn’t new to me, but isn’t used in Philly, was “partna.”

I’ve heard that word used before in other states, such as the southern states, and when I visited Washington D.C., but other people have not heard this word before. “Partna” is just another word for friend. When I want to say something like this, I say “mans.” Language is very different and similar in certain places as I’ve stated above. The point I’m trying to make is that language helps people fit into a certain group. Language can help define who we are as person or race.

People will judge you by the language you speak or learned to speak. Last year, One of my friends who attended a different school asked me, “How you black speaking spanish?” He was judging me by my race and the fact that I’m speaking another race’s language. Over the years I’ve heard a good number of languages spoken and I, for one, can say that I’ve judged people on the race and language they’ve spoken. I’ve often caught myself judging someone who is a foreigner living here in America and who refuses to speak English.The environment around me influenced and taught me that foreigners were bad because they “invaded our country, but don’t want to speak our language.” The environment around us can  be a big influence on our language and how we react to other languages. A quote from Sandra Romo, “The verbal environment influences language learning. From ages one to three, children from highly verbal 'professional' families heard nearly three times as many words per week as children from low verbal 'welfare' families.” I hope to influence other people on finding their own language and don’t allow bad influences to make you believe another language is bad. When it all boils down, we need each other to prosper.

Romeo, S. (2012). Factors that influence language development. Retrieved from http://www.ehow.com/list_6018235_factors-influence-language-development.html