July 14, 2009

"And yet in her perfection, she actually sounds hood to me."

Ta-Nahesi Coates assesses Sotomayor's enunciation.

Hmmm. I'll just note that Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor also over-enunciate. It actually sounds judge to me. Perhaps lady judge.

UPDATE: I've misspelled Coates's first name, and he's cursed me and connected me to racism because of that. Maybe spelling to him, like pronunciation, rubs a sore spot.

37 comments:

Matthew said...

sounds NPR to me. I find it all pretentious nonetheless

traditionalguy said...

When a Judge in a trial court or the lawyers in a trial setting are being "taken down" by the court reporter, the polite and helpful Judge/Lawyer will talk slow and enunciate and almost spell out the words. Real courts are not TV dramas. The attorney's spoken word is paced like a good golf swing, almost by instinct. She was well trained in her younger years and has not become sloppy for theatrical effect in her older and wiser years. So what?

peter hoh said...

I think she sounds a lot like Lynne Rossetto Kasper, the host of public radio's The Splendid Table.

Cabbage said...

Phylicia Rashad Syndrome.

former law student said...

I agree with TNC that she sounds like a middle school teacher. The first time I heard her I was thinking junior high school principal Mrs. Goldberg.

rhhardin said...

She sounds like a liar to me.

A complete absence of brilliant points has a lot to do with it.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Since TNC banned me for showing how he was wrong (link; he admits it further down the page) I can't leave a comment there. But, then again, the linked post is apparently as lightweight as most of the ones here.

Would it be possible for the general BHO opposition to pull it together long enough to actually mount an effective opposition? In fact, I'm willing to bargain. Even if people are determined to lose, can we at least get some concessions out of her? For instance, having her renounce the NCLR would be a very, very good thing. Maybe we could make that our goal. Fair enough?

Lem said...

A complete absence of brilliant points has a lot to do with it.

No "intellectual feast" with Sotomayor.

traditionalguy said...

Slow enunciation is done in many multi cultural settings, such as NYC and Atlanta.The people listening to English as their second language are afraid of missing a word and agreeing to some statement that will destroy them. That is also one of the basic reasons people pay lawyers. We are translators of an unfamiliar tongue that is "on the client's side" to catch tricks. That is why they hire us. See also, the perfect ten language skills of a certain Law Professor from Wisconsin. Communications in a court where one is seeking a favorable application of spoken/writen law ( "law means layed down writen speech )to spoken witness reports, called facts, requires time and effort to do it right. Would you want the Fed-Ex man pleading your case to hard of hearing old men when a missed word loses you everthing?

Scott M said...

Sorry, but TNC's take on this, especially in the realm of who sounds like what, falls on deaf ears.

Regardless of the fact that I disagree with the "hood" statement, why is it the left that seeks to pigeon-hole people into identity politics, yet scream bloody axe-murder when it's applied inconveniently to progressive aims.

The sentiment over on his blog at The Atlantic is that there's no incorrect way of speaking English. All forms are valid and equal.

For my own part, I believe that there IS a proper way to WRITE English. Assuming one writes well, the closer one gets to speaking like they write, the better off everyone is.

Granted...we would all end up sounding like Masterpiece Theater, but that's not such a bad thing :)

sierra said...

I knew that phrase rang a bell:

Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn't talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony.

KLDAVIS said...

I assumed there was a typo in your post title (or the quote), until I clicked over and read the original post.

Ralph L said...

Does she pronounce the "t" in "often?" I thought that was a class indicator, until I heard Prince Edward do it. You'd think he'd know the Queen's English.

Midwesterners speak much faster than the rest of the country, Southerners, much slower. And then there's an Al Gore speech from the 90's.

Scott M said...

@Ralph L

I was in radio for years and am originally from the Midwest. We moved so many times, both around the country and the world (dad was a career spook) that I pretty much lost any chance of affecting any accent at all.

In that experience, the metroplex New Englanders (Philly, New York, etc) always seemed to have the quickest, mushiest mouths. That doesn't include, however, what's going on in Miami nowadays...500 words per second Cuban.

Freeman Hunt said...

I have an accent that makes people think I'm from wherever they're from. Must be the result of growing up in a town full of transplants. "You can't be from Arkansas! You don't sound like you're from there." In reality, I sound just like the people I grew up with. I suppose people expect us to have Hee Haw voices or some such thing.

paul a'barge said...

Leave it to Ta-Nahesi Coates to infuse value in ghetto ignorance, gang banging and illiteracy.

paul a'barge said...

Anyone ever hear Barbara Jordan speak?

I'm guessing even Ta-Nehisi ("In the Ghetto!") whats-his-name could understand her.

AlgonquinS said...

What. Does. Enunciation. Mean?

NKVD said...

Queen's English? Who gives a fuck about that, except for Titus and other queens.

In America we speak a different language.

former law student said...

Leave it to Ta-Nahesi Coates to infuse value in ghetto ignorance, gang banging and illiteracy.

Wha'choo tawkin' about, willis?

Big Mike said...

As Rex Harrison "sang": There even are places where English completely disappears. In America they haven't used it in years."

ricpic said...

I wonder what new policies have been put in place today and by which White House Czar?

Thomas Jefferson's advice has never been more timely.

Methadras said...

She looks and sounds like a complete amateur when I go back and look at the Roberts or Alito confirmations. Roberts is a paragon of the judicial system and Wise Latina can't even come close to shining his shoes. And yet a human douche nozzle like Franken thinks she's the most qualified candidate in 100 years? How did this moron get on the Judiciary Committee? Seriously? HOW?!!?!?

Furthermore, her feeble attempt at deflecting her "Wise Latina" statement still has not been fully explored. If she didn't mean to imply that being a "Wise Latina" gave her more gravitas to decide cases above and beyond that of a white man, then why did no one asked her in rebuttal why she even made the comment to begin with? It's all Kabuki at this point.

rhhardin said...

Bob and Ray Slow Talkers of America.

John Koblet (John and Ken Show, KFI) says so what if she thinks she's better than white men. Just say what you think, for God's sake. Let white guys say they think they're better. A nation of infants rules today. Bring back the pubic hair on a coke can. At least that was interesting.

RLB_IV said...

As TradMan so eloquently wrote:

"We are translators of an unfamiliar tongue that is "on the client's side" to catch tricks. That is why they hire us."

This is the reason why we pay $500.00 per hour or more for representation in the "nether world". In house corporate lawyer, priceless.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Ta-Nahesi Coates is a racist.

peter hoh said...

Ta-Nahesi Coates is a racist.

Channeling Syndrome in The Incredibles: If everyone is racist, then no one is racist.

jayne_cobb said...

And yet in his use of youthful slang, he actually sounds like an old man to me.

He reminds me of one of those middle school teachers who try and look cool in front of their students by dropping words they heard on MTV into their lessons.

I mean honestly, "dis" and "hood"? Why not just say, "she got mad props from Leahy" while he's at it.

PatCA said...

My cat is licking his white fur; he is ignoring his black fur. RACIST!

Duscany said...

I would have listened to Sotomayor for a week and not pinned down what was grating about her speech. Ta-Nahesi Coates got it exactly right. He is trying no hard to sound as if she doesn't come from the hood or the barrio or the ghetto or anyplace where people speak a lot more colloquially. I bet she sounds a lot better when she's in her office chatting up the new clerk from Radcliffe.

Scott M said...

@Mortimer

I spent quite a while as one of the lone conservatives over on TNC's blog spot there on The Atlantic website. I've had a number of back-and-forths with him, including a couple of chats in private.

I would not say he is a racist. I would say he's definitely married to his opinions on race and doesn't like to entertain alternatives to his points of view on the subject.

Case in point, I stopped commenting when a topic came up about black African immigrants, as a group, doing better than blacks born and raised here in the USA. He couched the argument poorly, saying that you can't compare the USA blacks to the immigrants because the immigrants are (paraphrasing) the best of their group coming here to compete with all of ours.

I disagreed wholeheartedly with the wide generalizations and then started on a back and forth with someone over the topic. TNC scolded me in the thread and then announced that he was going to start reviewing all posts before publishing them. I don't know if the policy has changed, but that's when I stopped bothering.

I consider him to be a pretty decent guy...just stubborn.

holdfast said...

Watching the hearings, Sotomayor is just not very likeable. She is sort of hectoring - I think this is partly responsible for the CNN pundits' glowing reviews of Graham.

Having spent some considerable time around law students, lawyers, judges and clerks, I think I have her pegged. She is an affirmative action baby (her words, not mine) but she is also a grinder. Unlike Michelle Obama, who just whined and bitched to get better assignments at her firm (using the implicit threat of a discrimination claim as leverage) and then later coasted on political connections, Sotomayor does work really hard. Really really hard - like gunner/keener in the front row with the hand up who has already read and noted up all the case and the commentary hard, but yet lacks a spark of intuitive brilliance. This analysis is borne out by her academic record - she always got good, even great grades in school, but did not do so well on standardized tests. Standardized tests are how you test intelligence (or at least aptitude)- you can't really prepare for them beyond a certain point - it helps to know the format and ideal time allocation but, pace Kaplan, you cannot really study for the LSAT - either you are good at that shit or you ain't.

Clerks have spoken of Sotomayor's attention to grammar and detail in her judicial writing, and her obsessive focus on the facts of the case, which is not really the job of an appellate court in most instances. She is focusing on the stuff she can do - the stuff that is conceptually easy but takes a lot of effort. When she speaks off the cuff or without great preparation, she gets into trouble and gets rhetorically demolished by Lindsay freakin' Graham!

traditionalguy said...

Holdfast...So what is a Supreme Court Justice there for? The horror for the past 48 years or so has been the brillant thinkers on the Court doing their Philosopher Arch-Rulers tricks on every good American tradition that they can find to destroy with their emanating penumbras, which they glibly assure us were always there in the Constitution as they would have written it, since they are the truly Brilliant Ones; and to hell with life as we Americans lived it before we were blessed by their glorious ascension. But Sonia the humble "grinder" carefully following precedent, and looking out for the chance to fix a few cruel legal inequities along the way, is beneath your contempt? You need to wake up and smell what you are shoveling.

Anonymous Blogger said...

I would not say he is a racist. I would say he's definitely married to his opinions on race and doesn't like to entertain alternatives to his points of view on the subject.

Why isn't that racist? A non-violent Communist is still a Communist.

paul a'barge said...

Wha'choo tawkin' about, willis?

Word, brah! Wha'sup?!

holdfast said...

traditionalguy - you may have a point. I think the USSC could use a dose of practical common sense - but that is not how the Dems have been selling her. They've been pushing her as the super-smart, best candidate in 100 years, blah, blah - while they continue to mock Clarence Thomas. It's just like with Michelle Obama - she's not ugly (except on the inside) - she is a pretty normal middle aged black mother of two, but when she is continually touted as the hottest first lady since Dolly Madison, one the 100 most beautiful people, etc, it tends to stick in my craw.

Scott M said...

@Anonymous Blogger

Because his general opinion is not that one race is superior or inferior to another (ie racist). Prejudiced, maybe, though who isn't to some degree?

My point was that he's got his sense of things and it seems pretty ingrained. That doesn't mean, necessarily, that his sense of things are that blacks are superior.

It was a bit wearing, though, all of the glorification of all things "urban" as having innate worth, even while waxing about the negatives in closely cropped mentions.