Rap lyrics = "Ebonics"?

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Rap lyrics = "Ebonics"?

Postby Jamie*On » 2005-10-05, 14:38

:?: A quick question...

Is the kind of dialect used in American rap music the same thing that is called Ebonics. On Wikipedia they say that Chris Rock speaks it - how can it be true? I understand 100% of what he says, but in rap songs the lyrics can be impossible to make sense of. Here's an example:

http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/jackiebrown/holymatrimonyletterfromthefirm.htm

Even after reading the transcript and listening to the song dozens of times I couldn't tell you what happens in the story! Does anyone know any sites where I could find out the meaning? From my searches it seems like Ebonics is just a joke in America except for the people who defend teaching it in schools.

8)

Best wishes..

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Postby Gormur » 2005-10-05, 15:46

This may or may not give you some insight:

http://www.une.edu.au/langnet/aave.htm

The linguists will undoubtedly disagree with me, but I believe it's a joke being taught in schools, since there is no standard variety and it is definitely not a creole or pidgin. There are certain features which characterize Ebonics, such as mentioned on the website.

In a nutshell, this is nothing new for California; wasting tax payers' dollars on useless programs which serve no purpose other than to make a political statement of "correctness"... :roll:

P.S. - Rap music has its own "poetic" language, which is no more than street slang used by the numerous gangs and thugs of California, NY, and elsewhere. In my opinion, Rap is an art form in and of itself, and not a seperate language from English, but a variety of poetic language.

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Rap Slang

Postby Jamie*On » 2005-10-05, 16:47

But isn't it something dfferent from English if there is so much slang that normal speakers (uninitiated) can't understand it? For example I can understand a Panjabi song more easily than "Holy Matrimony" not having ever studied that language (it's similar to Hindi) and yet they are considered totally different languages.

If you look at - even better, listen to - the song I posted in my 1st message you can see that this is a seperate language.. here are some lines, maybe it's best to read it in context though:

He had the block locked he knew the spot block
On some real web sh_t to get your spot knocked by killer cops
Tryin to get your sh_t rocked, he don't know, cause all along
We was plottin to drop on the low, he straight snitch.


Don't just scan it, it looks like English at a glance but what does it means? Please help me if anyone can understand it! And also, why not teach Ebonics in schools or at least bring out dictionaries? If it's hard for Anglophones to understand rap, think how hard it is for English-speakers who learnt good grammar, no slang, etc.

Last for fun, here's my message in Ebonics according to The Ebonics Translator

http://www.joel.net/EBONICS/translator.asp

But ain't it somethin' dfferent from English if dere iz so much slang dat normal speakers (uninitiated) can't dig' it? For example I can dig' uh Panjabi song mo' easily than "Holy Matrimony" not havin' ever studied dat language (it's similar ta Hindi) an' yet it's considered totally different languages.

If ya peep at - even bettah, listen ta - da song I posted in muh ma f_ckin 1st message ya can see dat dis here iz uh seperate language.. here iz some lines, maybe it's bomb ta read it in context though brace yourself foo'!

("Double" ebonics:)

He had da block locked he knew da spot block
On some real web sheeit ta git yo' spot knocked by killer 5-0's
Tryin ta git yo' sheeit rocked, he don' know, cause all along
We wuz plottin ta drop on da low, he straight snitch.
sho 'nuff!


Don't just scan it, it looks like English at uh glance but what do it means? Please he`p me if anyone can dig' it! And also, why not teach Ebonics in schools or at least bring out dictionaries? If it's hard fo' Anglophones ta dig' rap, th'o't how hard it iz fo' English-speakers who learnt pimp-tight grammar, nahh slang, etc.

Last fo' fun, here's muh ma f_ckin message in Ebonics according ta The Ebonics Translator... in the hood...


:)

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Postby reflexsilver86 » 2005-10-05, 17:18

Gormur wrote:This may or may not give you some insight:

http://www.une.edu.au/langnet/aave.htm

The linguists will undoubtedly disagree with me, but I believe it's a joke being taught in schools, since there is no standard variety and it is definitely not a creole or pidgin. There are certain features which characterize Ebonics, such as mentioned on the website.

In a nutshell, this is nothing new for California; wasting tax payers' dollars on useless programs which serve no purpose other than to make a political statement of "correctness"... :roll:

P.S. - Rap music has its own "poetic" language, which is no more than street slang used by the numerous gangs and thugs of California, NY, and elsewhere. In my opinion, Rap is an art form in and of itself, and not a seperate language from English, but a variety of poetic language.


I also really don't get the point of teaching Ebonics. The most amusing thing was when I read there are schools in Japan where Japanese people go to speak in AAVE.

There's a reason it's called a dialect. I don't think there's anything wrong with AAVE, it's indicative of a certain culture. However, that'd be like proposing in New York that students learn to right "forget about it" as "fuhgeddaboudit" and that being the way teachers talk to students.

It's similar even, to go to a topic that Ego brought up also in this forum, to Patois in Jamaica. Patois is sure as heck not taught in Jamaican schools, and I don't think any Jamaican would even believe it if you said you thought it should be. There's usually a distinction between language in school and the workplace and language in the home and around friends. Even if the dialect you speak isn't markedly different from the ideal standard, everyone usually becomes far more standard when dealing in professional situations.

I can understand Ebonics, I can't talk like that though. :wink:
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Postby Jamie*On » 2005-10-05, 17:44

There's a reason it's called a dialect.


But shouldn't we draw the line between dialect and language when they stop being mutually comprehensible?

... in New York that students learn to right "forget about it" as "fuhgeddaboudit" and that being the way teachers talk to students.


I didn't mean they should teach it instead of Standard English, but even in a normal book you could find fuhgeddaboudit - I'm talking about, for instance, the Foxy Brown lyrics I posted: the grammar, the verb phrases that are different from normal English. Why not teach it in schools if someone wants to opt to learn it, for instance, someone who loves hip hop?

Patois is sure as heck not taught in Jamaican schools


Yes, but in Jamaican newspapers I've read reports where they quote people in Patois and use no explanation in brackets in regular English (they assume the readers are all Jamaicans and familiar enough with that dialect and it's vocab. Jamaica is also not USA or Western Europe; they wouldn't waste time teaching people how to write in Patois because of the way it's seen there (i.e. lazy, uneducated way of talking) and also because most people understand it whether they are lower class or upper class. In my country, not many people would say that Patois is an "uneducated" dialect, most would say Patois is a regional English (like Irish English, South African English or Australian English, etc.)...

Even if the dialect you speak isn't markedly different from the ideal standard, everyone usually becomes far more standard when dealing in professional situations.


That's not really true in the case of my parents (from East London) whose vocab and grammar are not standard but don't consider their way of speaking inferior to Standard English. And here, I'm talking about teaching it so people can understand rap, just like people can learn Italian, Russian, German and so on for opera. Or indeed, why not teach Jamaican Patois for reaggae lovers?

Keep it real dawgz 8)

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Postby Stan » 2005-10-05, 19:52

reflexsilver86 wrote:I can understand Ebonics, I can't talk like that though. :wink:


I talk like it all the time, in fact much of my speech is AAVE-influenced

we don't write like we speak, if we all spoke as we wrote this would be a very dull world :wink:
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Postby Stan » 2005-10-05, 20:00

Jamie*On wrote:But shouldn't we draw the line between dialect and language when they stop being mutually comprehensible?


I don't know what you mean by that, maybe that's a personal problem you have, but I rarely have problems understanding African Americans and/or hip-hop music.

It's a dialect.


That's not really true in the case of my parents (from East London) whose vocab and grammar are not standard but don't consider their way of speaking inferior to Standard English. And here, I'm talking about teaching it so people can understand rap, just like people can learn Italian, Russian, German and so on for opera. Or indeed, why not teach Jamaican Patois for reaggae lovers?


what sentences do you need help with?
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Postby Oric » 2005-10-06, 0:12

Wow, you're white.

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Postby cweb255 » 2005-10-06, 1:31

Beyond white. I don't listen to foxy brown, but it is sure English enough.

He had da block locked he knew da spot block
Exactly as English except the "th" is hardened to "d".

On some real web sheeit ta git yo' spot knocked by killer 5-0's
The 'i' in "shit" is lengthened for poetical reasons. "Ta" and "git" are pronounced more rapidly than "to" and "get", again for pronunciation purposes. "Yo" is an abbreviated form of "you" common in many slang varieties. A 5-0 can be used anywhere in English as a slang for police officer.

Tryin ta git yo' sheeit rocked, he don' know, cause all along
We see the same four words as above, but also we have don' - shortened from don't, which is often used for doesn't, again for pronunciation purposes. Even though technically its incorrect grammar, they jes dun giv a sheeit.

We wuz plottin ta drop on da low, he straight snitch.
sho 'nuff!
"Wuz" is merely a phonetic spelling of "was". Bere en mynd that wuns Inglish didn't hav propper orthografy. This changed with the rise of the dictionary. Even the original printing of the King James Version bible had varied spelling, and Shakespeare most often spelt his name "Shakspear", and sometimes even "Shaxpear". "Ta" and "da" has been discussed earlier, and that leaves of with the phrase "sho 'nuff" which exhibits two different alterations: 1) it has been shortened from "Sure enough" to "so' 'nough", much in the same way "Pray thee" changed to "prithee" or "God be with ye" to "Good-bye"; and 2) since "so' 'nough" would seem to be pronounced "so no" or something along those lines, it became phonetic, becoming "sho nuff".

Ya'nderstand?

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Postby Ariki » 2005-10-06, 4:20

The linguists will undoubtedly disagree with me, but I believe it's a joke being taught in schools, since there is no standard variety and it is definitely not a creole or pidgin. There are certain features which characterize Ebonics, such as mentioned on the website.


Languages are never 'standard' (even with in writing, there's no one that one can confirm completely with the rules of the written code). Unless the standard you are talking about is a 'prescriptivist' standard :evil:

In a nutshell, this is nothing new for California; wasting tax payers' dollars on useless programs which serve no purpose other than to make a political statement of "correctness"...


That statement, could also apply to learning foreign languages in California....

There's a reason it's called a dialect. I don't think there's anything wrong with AAVE, it's indicative of a certain culture. However, that'd be like proposing in New York that students learn to right "forget about it" as "fuhgeddaboudit" and that being the way teachers talk to students.


Did you learn to write write as right? ;) I see no problems with teaching English dialects - in fact, it would be nice if they could extend further and include the major English dialect of each region as being taught as the 'standard' along side with the two dialectal variations.

It's similar even, to go to a topic that Ego brought up also in this forum, to Patois in Jamaica. Patois is sure as heck not taught in Jamaican schools, and I don't think any Jamaican would even believe it if you said you thought it should be. There's usually a distinction between language in school and the workplace and language in the home and around friends. Even if the dialect you speak isn't markedly different from the ideal standard, everyone usually becomes far more standard when dealing in professional situations.


I would say that opinions about Patois dialect is a direct result of colonisation more than anything else. Even if we all 'conformed' to a so called 'standard' English, who would decide what is standard as such? We already have two staunch English language groups, that being the British and the American groups.....

Wow, you're white.

That's just as random as saying 'wow, you're female!' 'wow, you're smart!' or even 'wow, that's spam!'. That's called spamming.
Linguicide IS genocide. :)

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Postby amoeba » 2005-10-06, 4:34

There should always be room for social linguistic variation, but I think the idea of teaching 'Ebonics' in school borders on ridiculous. It's not a dialect, but a form of English. Standard English should be taught to everyone, so everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in public life, get a job, communicate with others, etc. The 'politically correct' support of Ebonics is something like the support for segregation. I'm not saying this form of speech should not be seen for its cultural value - I am very much for preserving it because it is meaningful for people. But really, it's logical to have a 'standard' language use that should be available to everyone, not just those from particular social and ethnic backgrounds.

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Postby Ariki » 2005-10-06, 5:48

There should always be room for social linguistic variation, but I think the idea of teaching 'Ebonics' in school borders on ridiculous. It's not a dialect, but a form of English. Standard English should be taught to everyone, so everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in public life, get a job, communicate with others, etc.


Yes, but that argument has been used against indigenous languages (like Māori) which has seen serious damage done to them.

The 'politically correct' support of Ebonics is something like the support for segregation.


That is the new catch cry from right wing people (particularly in NZ) who believe that any form of redress is just like segregation against them, when they very well forget, that when segregation was performed, they were performing it against minority groups based on prejudice ideas (such as the native man is not capable of complex thought).

I'm not saying this form of speech should not be seen for its cultural value - I am very much for preserving it because it is meaningful for people.


I agree

But really, it's logical to have a 'standard' language use that should be available to everyone, not just those from particular social and ethnic backgrounds.


I think what I posted above provides well enough for that.
Linguicide IS genocide. :)

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Lyrics

Postby Jamie*On » 2005-10-06, 9:07

OK, thanks for your opinions and thanks cweb255 for your help, but I still can't translate this part of the song:

He had the block locked he knew the spot block
On some real web sh_t to get your spot knocked by killer cops
Tryin to get your sh_t rocked, he don't know, cause all along
We was plottin to drop on the low, he straight snitch.


So here's my guess at what I can make out - in Standard English:

He had the block surrounded, he was familiar with the place,
???... policemen who would kill innocent people
???... all along he was
Planning to ???... basically he informed (on us?) to the police or rival gang...

So what is "get your sh_t rocked" and "drop on the low"?

And if anyone can help, maybe we could try to translate the whole song. There is a joke site where they translate a B.I.G. song into standard eng, it looks funny when you put them side by side, the regular english looks so formal, but how else can you make sense of it:

http://www.bizbag.com/Misc%20articles/Rap%20Lyrics%20Translated.htm

PS. B.I.G. and most other rappers are not so bad, but Foxy is definately rapping in another language. The new Lil' Kim CD is totally understandable.

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Postby amoeba » 2005-10-06, 14:04

riki wrote:
The 'politically correct' support of Ebonics is something like the support for segregation.


That is the new catch cry from right wing people (particularly in NZ) who believe that any form of redress is just like segregation against them, when they very well forget, that when segregation was performed, they were performing it against minority groups based on prejudice ideas (such as the native man is not capable of complex thought).


The difference is that in New Zealand, there is a different language to be saved and preserved, and I am for preseving Maori at all costs. 'Ebonics' is a form of English, a social dialect. Most English speakers speak a certain varietry of English that isn't identical to 'Standard English', but what I was arguing for, was that the standard be taught to everyone. Would someone propose, for example, that all schools with a high proportion of black students should be 'taught' Ebonics? Why should anyone assume one person would prefer one form of the language based on their skin colour?

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Postby Gormur » 2005-10-06, 16:10

riki wrote:Languages are never 'standard' (even with in writing, there's no one that one can confirm completely with the rules of the written code). Unless the standard you are talking about is a 'prescriptivist' standard :evil:


I could quote some of your passages about "awful Maori" which uses "strange words". Shouldn't these also be taught in primary schools, then? :roll:

In a nutshell, this is nothing new for California; wasting tax payers' dollars on useless programs which serve no purpose other than to make a political statement of "correctness"...


That statement, could also apply to learning foreign languages in California....


What? We're talking about learning Ebonics in primary school, not in university. I see no problem with teaching it in a university; that way everyone has a choice. And if we're teaching Ebonics in school, why not teach Southern dialects, Hoity Toity, or Cockney slang while we're at it?

No, learning a foreign language is NOT the same; we can use foreign languages for practical purposes like communicating with people, getting jobs, travelling, teaching, etc.

As stated previously, Ebonics is a vague term used to describe American Black English in general, and as a result, has racist connotations. Is it only me who sees this?? :? It's like teaching kids how to speak Chinglish or Engrish. How is that CRAP even acceptable?

Did you learn to write write as right? ;) I see no problems with teaching English dialects - in fact, it would be nice if they could extend further and include the major English dialect of each region as being taught as the 'standard' along side with the two dialectal variations.


In primary school? First of all, it's impractical. Second, people would begin complaining immediately - "why can't we learn __?", or "why are my kids learning how to talk like __?", etc. Not only that, but can you imagine the cost of such an education? Let's leave those things for university courses and profs to teach.

It's similar even, to go to a topic that Ego brought up also in this forum, to Patois in Jamaica. Patois is sure as heck not taught in Jamaican schools, and I don't think any Jamaican would even believe it if you said you thought it should be. There's usually a distinction between language in school and the workplace and language in the home and around friends. Even if the dialect you speak isn't markedly different from the ideal standard, everyone usually becomes far more standard when dealing in professional situations.


I would say that opinions about Patois dialect is a direct result of colonisation more than anything else.


Like it or not, colonization is the reason we can communicate and speak English, French, Dutch, Spanish, and a few other major languages.

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Postby Gormur » 2005-10-06, 16:18

amoeba wrote:Would someone propose, for example, that all schools with a high proportion of black students should be 'taught' Ebonics?


I forgot the name of the school, but there is a school in Oakland, Calif that has made such propositions. There are also a few others in San Francisco, though I don't know if any have succeeded.

Why should anyone assume one person would prefer one form of the language based on their skin colour?


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Postby Jamie*On » 2005-10-06, 18:44

Why is everyone having a heated debate here? The whole thread has gone off-topic! :evil:

Can't we get back to trying to translate the lyrics and discuss the positive aspects of language learning rather than "this or that" is racist and getting upset over trivial things?

In bookshops in London you can find small books teaching you how to "talk American" or "talk Australian" .. does anyone know any books for understanding hip hop lyrics beyond the obvious "change TH to D" and "use ain't not isn't"?

And please, if anyone can put that extract from "Holy Matrimony" into standard Eng I would really appreciate it, and if you can do that, why don't we go through the whole song?

Keep it real, homies. :o

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Postby Jamie*On » 2005-10-06, 18:57

To keep on topic, please look again at the song (I'll just give the chorus once) and if you can give me any help then I'm so grateful:

Uhh, I mean damn
Me and you forever hand in hand
I'm married to The Firm boo, you got to understand
I'll die for em, gimme a chair and then I'll fry for em
And if I got ta take the stand, I'ma lie for em

Whattup Firm we got these n_ggaz cornered, so maintain
I got the drugs here, a good amounts the bed behind the back stairs
Like twenty grams plus the caravan
I left the keys by the safe, erase the phone and flip the license plate
Got all the phone calls tapes, and all the weights and ice
To get the dough and the guns, and then we straight
He had the block locked he knew the spot block
On some real web sh_t to get your spot knocked by killer cops
Tryin to get your sh_t rocked, he don't know, cause all along
We was plottin to drop on the low, he straight snitch
He don't know how it go, he saw Nas in all the Lex
Then a triple GS, foreala, I kinda think he got a
Feeling I'm squealing me and Tone was on the phone
Probably thinkin we dealin this bug, make sure Un got all the guns
His man Son had the whole mob of arsons
Runnin through Parsons

Check it peep the plot, so when I beep him y'all be creepin
Cormega know the spot, diminish him, 'Mega finish him
We power, the whole team shinin through like Ma rule
Worse come to worse we got shorties layin on forty-first
They want The Firm som'in awful, to tax som'in
The way we style have a n_gga tryin to blast som'in
I guess the way we politic em probably got the n_ggaz
I know they layin like "Dunn, we got ta stick them n_ggaz"
In due time, they probably see the Apple sour
and once, we takin over, they'll realize The World is Ours
The f_ggot n_ggaz don't deserve bein CREAM
A bunch of snitches on the same team, tryin to reign supreme
Brooklyn Queens thing, we lionhearted never dear departed I mean
You're f_ckin with Scarlett O'Hara
Desert em like Sahara, sh_t you never heard The Firm strictly murderous
Gun is out punana, The Firm's First Lady organizer

The General, soak time, my partner in crime, Nas and 'Mega
Gon' cry together, sh_t get real, we gon' die together
I'm like whatever for my team through the cheddah
Through the CREAM we gonna stay together, it's Doe or Die
Through the slanted eyes, I organize family style
Lady Godiva, forever Firm Fox Boogie never lonely
We were wed in Holy Matrimony, whatever
Whichever, however, uhh, Firm style


There are a few possible misheard words - the best thing would be to actually listen to the song - but please, do your best. :wink:

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Postby reflexsilver86 » 2005-10-06, 19:36

LOL Because this is Unilang and chances are that any topic will shortly go off topic, especially when you bring up something like ebonics, because someone is always bound to have their toes stepped on in a conversation like this.

I think writing and speaking are two totally different things. People that speak as they write sound incredibly fake. I mean it's their option if they want to speak like they have a thesaurus in their hand, but I have way too many people in my classes who speak as if they're reading off a thesis dissertation. They won't even use contractions. It sounds incredibly unnatural, and it sounds like they're trying to make themselves sound more important than everyone else. And even if that isn't their intention (though for these people it is) that's how it comes across.

I'm not saying either that people who speak a certain way regard how they speak as being "inferior" to other ways of speaking. It just is that many people will subconsciously moderate their speaking when they're in a mixed group of people, because not all of those participating in a conversation might be able to understand.
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Postby Jamie*On » 2005-10-06, 19:55

I'm not saying either that people who speak a certain way regard how they speak as being "inferior" to other ways of speaking. It just is that many people will subconsciously moderate their speaking when they're in a mixed group of people, because not all of those participating in a conversation might be able to understand.


Reflex Silver, I agree with you. It's true in my case - in my head half the time it's in one kind of dialect, the other half "normal" English. I just meant my parents don't do that.

Now, if there's anyone out there who wants to help translate the Ebonics, whether it is a dialect, language, sociolect, whatever, then let's make things happen!

Peace.


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