August 7, 2014

"In today’s America, to not be able to get down, or at least pretend to, is to be inarticulate. We live in a distinctly swaggery age."

"Obama, then, speaks a larger English than Romney – or Reagan, or Kennedy. It complements the fact that he is the first president since Martin Van Buren, who grew up speaking Dutch and broke into it when angry, to be raised in a household where more than just English was spoken. It’s stupid enough that Obama has to downplay his command of Indonesian to avoid looking like a Muslim; must we jump him for using the Black English spice kit?"

Says John McWhorter.

68 comments:

Revenant said...

So I guess the argument is that the white and Asian people who raised Barack Obama, in a series of states and countries that have next to no black people in them... spoke "Black English" to him at home?

I thought his grandparents were "typical white people". Do "typical white people" speak Jive?

D. said...

"navel gazing for idiots"

Chuck said...

Obama drops his g's just like Sarah Palin drops her g's.

They were both raised in similar white working class households.

If Obama knows how to speak black American ghetto english, it is because he learned, the way that kids from Wilmette learn Spanish.

That's the essential thing about Obama. He's not black. He's mixed race. And by an overwhelming predominance, his heritage is white/Hawaiian/midwestern. There's not a speck of American slave/ghetto in him.

And yeah, the phrase, "We tortured some folks," will go down in history as one of the most awkward, off-note, self-aggrandizing things said by any president on such a topic. Setting aside any and all of the political merits on the subject matter.

I've never really thought of Obama as a black president. He's black with an asterisk.

The Crack Emcee said...

"It’s stupid enough that Obama has to downplay his command of Indonesian to avoid looking like a Muslim; must we jump him for using the Black English spice kit?"

Of course "we" must - this is America.

Anything black is a target,...

Paul said...

Who cares about this shit?! The man is a terrible president and a destructive, destabilizing force for America and the world. Get down? Are you fucking kidding me? How clueless can someone be about what really matters, and the serious consequences of bad decisions? There is a certain brand of deep, deep stupidity that one can only achieve with much time spent in an academic environment.

Lord Ben said...

No, Ms. Noonan. You and the rest -- and some of you are black -- need to realize that when Obama does things like “dropping his g’s,” he is enhancing the dignity of his office and helping bring the country together.

I'm not sure it's working.

rhhardin said...

Lying and lawlessness are cultural norms in Indonesia.

To do otherwise is uptight in today's America, including for academics.

Skeptical Voter said...

What a load of bull dust!

Terry said...

The article is bizarre. Obama was raised by whites in Hawaii. Any "Black English" he uses is an affectation picked up at Occidental or Columbia.
Who says Obama can speak Indonesian?

chuck said...

Obama, then, speaks a larger English than Romney – or Reagan, or Kennedy.

2) Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Who knew that McWorter was so deeply religious?

T Rellis said...

Maybe if he was speaking another language so many people wouldn't notice he was such a stuttering incompetent fool.

The Crack Emcee said...

rhhardin,

"Lying and lawlessness are cultural norms in Indonesia."

Good thing white Americans don't have a record for that,...

Jack Wayne said...

"you must get used to presidents dropping g’s. It’s what a president of this nation in these times should do now and then."

WTF does this mean?

John Lynch said...

Once more being Obama is more important than what Obama does.

bgates said...

"You an the rest -- an some of you black -- need to realize that when Obama do thangs like “droppin his g’s,” he enhancin the dignity of his office an helpin brang the country togetha"

-more dignified than Mr McWhorter's impeccable syntax? Or less?

jacksonjay said...

So, that off the cuff comment 'bout b-n good at killin "folks", was that "swaggery" bullshit Ebonics (Black English Spice, What the Hell?) or Whitey English?

Don't matter, bro, know what I'm say-in? Obama is a dumbass (just like McWhorter) no matter what language he is try-in to speak. Dumbassery is particularly effective with the lo-info mofos!

Did I miss the bio bullet about him speak-in Indonesian?

Happy Cinco de Cuatro!

rhhardin said...

For the first time in nearly 2,000 years there are no Christians in Mosul. What no power of evil has been able to be accomplish in two millenia was achieved in a trice by the most moral administration in American history; perhaps by accident, perhaps by carelessness, perhaps even by design, but achieved nonetheless. Whichever way you look at it, that’s awesome.

Belmont Club

SteveR said...

Don't care, it has nothing to do with how I view his presidency. People looking for something to write about.

jimbino said...

You can't be elected in Amerika if you're an atheist, understand STEM or econ, or speak a second language.

Teddy Roosevelt was the last President fluent in a foreign tongue and George Bush was the only one not fluent in English.

richard mcenroe said...

So Obama can stutter, lie and self-aggrandize in three languages. And John Kerry speaks French except when he meets with French people.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Sheeit! U da man, John. Dat muffukin Romney, he'd be present now jus he cuda mufukkin get down.

paminwi said...

Thank goodness Obama speaks larger English than Reagan or Kennedy - they are dead after all!

They also were alive in a much different time period than now. And why is how the way Romney speaks even compared to Obama. Romney speaks like someone who has to make others in a board room understand what he means and not some brain dead liberals who think if you say "aks" you're cool! Putin could give a shit if you are cool, he just knows you are an idiot he can run roughshod over.

Birkel said...

Of course, President Bush spoke fluent Spanish but he was never defended by McWhorter for some strange reason. If only I could discern the reason...

rhhardin said...

to not be able to get down is to be inarticulate

To must is to can.

rhhardin said...

It's code switching. Obama is aiming at the moron vote. He's written off everybody else.

Step 1, minimize the distance between you and them.

Be said...

I'm a white kid who grew up nearby to the projects in my part of "suburbia." My Mother used to drive a school bus for the consolidated district, in fact, through the projects. Holidays were spent sitting just behind her, listening to the Puerto Rican "snitches" seated beside me.

It took me years to expunge the "wigger" from my accent, though it still shows up every now and again (particularly when I'm tired). Don't even get me started about my feelings about the Spanish Language.

I remember having conversations with friends from other parts of the world who found it cute to pepper their speech with the F word, thinking that it sounded "edgy," or "socially conscious."

"Given what you fought against growing up, and all you've achieved, why are you striving to sound like you're from a Council Flat / The Projects?"

"What would you know, you're American / White."

"Thanks for reminding me. Best wishes."

Browndog said...

Crack said-

"Anything black is a target,..."

You know what dude?

You're just flat stupid.

Not ignorant. Stupid.

I hope you kiss the white(est) woman's feet for giving you an audience.

traditionalguy said...

Freedom to exercise religion goes beyond believers or wishful thinkers. It is a promise that a religion can acted upon. Faith is an action.

American settlers early on found wisdom in acceptance of differing religious actors in the other communities.

They were doing no harm to anyone and they were acting in fear of God instead of in fear of men. Such brave people were not an enemy really and were in truth valuable for their courage. The Quakers became a special problem, because their faith action was not to act in defense themselves from savage Redskin raids.

But American Colonists kept that attitude despite the late to the show European (Roman Empire) Government which saw all resistance to money and power schemes of Kings and their titled aristocracy or to power of established Church Bishops to be enemy #1 and crushed. Hence the Revolutionary War got fought and won after eight bloody years. Those bloody lessons were written into The Bill of Rights.

A post-Christian tacit agreement of the SCOTUS to rewrote the First Amendment into a harmless restriction on religious actions done in public places by the once protected people of faith. That amounted to a European counter-revolution slipped in about 52 years ago.

.

CatherineM said...

Every time I hear his "folks" and hatin' talkin' and playin'... I think of this http://youtu.be/DGDm4jkDbGQ

Phony politicians. It's not black... It's not white.... It's phony. They stink.

Thank you and good day! I said good day, sir!

Andy Krause said...

Anything black is a target,... Only when it wants to be.

Michael K said...

Ebonics. The new language of Democrats. Plus ungrammatical Spanish, of course.

madAsHell said...

He should hold his dick like Justin Bieber.
....or suspend his pants below his butt hole.

Anonymous said...

Actually Mr. Obama has a very odd mode of speech. I'm not sure where it comes from but it is obvious. Equally odd is that no one has commented on his unusual dialect owing I assume to their wanting to avoid raising any questions however mild about his linguistic background.

Diamondhead said...

I thought by Obama's own admission he doesn't have much command of any language besides English. His command of American black English (which is not an illegitimate dialect) leaves something to be desired.

averagejoe said...

Obama speaks Indonesian? Really? Just like he speaks Austrian, I'm sure. I have a feeling that the assertion that Obama speaks any language other than English has exactly as much foundation as the contention that he is a constitutional law professor, that he was editor of the Harvard Law Review, and that he has the highest IQ of any American president. In other words, it's bullshit spun from the fantasy of a progressive democrat party member.

David said...

His spices have been sitting in the pantry too long. The are stale and have an off taste. But perhaps they reflect a longing, and are not just part of a manipulative "kit." That is an interesting thought. (And the notion of a "kit" seems insulting to Obama.)

There is a kernel of truth here. Obama has a background quite different from that of the typical American non immigrant. His foreign roots on his father's side are necessarily imaginative. From his mother, the white American with a family tenure here, he got actual foreign roots. He never had a young American male father, just an old man who did not appear until he was a teenager.

What does all this mean? In part, I think, it means that some of his externalities can be confusing or misleading. Couple that with the normal politician's propensity to confuse and mislead with a purpose, you have a very enigmatic man.

David said...

I talk with a Pittsburgh accent. It's diminished over the years but it's still there. I can always tell if a speaker is from Western Pa. You can't ever really eradicate it. But then again, why would you want to?

mccullough said...

We need a president who can speak Esperanto

rcommal said...

To be able to speak to modern America pretty much requires being able to switch between the formal and the vernacular to some extent.

How is this not true, if indeed it is not true??

This is a deeply informal country.

How is this not true, if indeed it is not true?

---

Only after getting honest answers to those two questions would I bother dealing with issues of etymology etc., among other issues.

Annie said...

Ebonics is 'cracker talk'. Blacks picked it up from poor whites who came from parts of Scotland and England and settled in the south. They also picked up their white trash ways.
Unfortunately, they think it's their own made up culture, separate from whitey and wear it with pride in ghettos/inner cities. Fools.

Revenant said...

Teddy Roosevelt was the last President fluent in a foreign tongue

Franklin Roosevelt, not Teddy.

Bob R said...

There are a lot of white equivalents here: southern politicians who put on a drawl, New York pols lapsing into Brooklyneese, Boston pols going Southie. Pretty standard fare at lower levels of politics. The only real issue is authenticity, and to me Obama passes that test. He grew up a black American. I'm not going to put down his use of black "trust cues" even if he had to learn them from the TV.

Noonan has a thing about the "dignity of the presidency" that didn't start with Obama. In another universe, I might have seen her point. But the real threat is too much deference to the POTUS, not too little. Better that we see him on a par with the county tax commissioner.

Lydia said...

McWhorter:
Take “folks,” for example, which Obama used in his mentioning that, “We tortured some folks.” To many, it sounded like he was trivializing the gravest of issues. But black speakers (and many whites as well) tend to substitute “folks” for “people” to indicate a sense of affection for, or identification with, the people in question. Black academic types (such as Obama) are especially given to saying “black folks” as a way of indicating that they do not feel superior to ordinary black people despite their own success. Obama’s extension of it to discussing the war on terror was unsurprising.

So, Obama has an affection for, or identification with, the terrorists we "tortured"? Good to know.

Tarrou said...

Yeah, when I think of Obama, I think of all that "Swagger".

The man's got the presence and charisma of a hypochondriachal cat lady.

Anonymous said...

Credit where credit is due. I also understand Clinton and Kennedy were fluent in pillow talk.

George W. Bush

George W. Bush speaks some Spanish and has delivered speeches in the language. His speeches in Spanish have had English dispersed throughout.

Barack H. Obama

Barack H. Obama has an elementary understanding of Bahasa Indonesia, attributed to his time in Indonesia as a child. He has demonstrated this in both interviews and speeches - notably the 2011 address he gave to the University of Indonesia.

The Crack Emcee said...

Andy Krause,

"Anything black is a target,... Only when it wants to be."

That's true - which is why so few will come to see or hear Republican, conservative, or Tea Party candidates.

You're just not worth the risk - to Americans.

Better to reduce you to the digital realm, where your racism can still be sniffed out, but tolerated as anonymous zeroes and ones,...

MayBee said...

One accent I've noticed has really disappeared from political life is the New England upper crust British-ish accent. John Kerry used to have it, the Kennedys kind of had it, William F Buckley had it.

I think politicians just can't get away with it any more.

The Crack Emcee said...

Lydia,

"So, Obama has an affection for, or identification with, the terrorists we "tortured"? Good to know."

Hey, Lydia, let me ask you something:

You got two eyes? How about a nose, you got one of those? Me, too. Isn't that fascinating? Let me ask you something else:

Are you "just" a white lady, who spews hate online, or is there more about you than meets the eye?

Do you think that's true just for you, or for others as well?

I'll wait,...

MayBee said...

Oh- one other politician who has adopted an interesting speaking style is Andrew Cuomo. He is really starting to sound like his dad. His tv brother doesn't use that same accent/pattern.

Curious George said...

If you don't know about Black English then you're ignant. Just axe crack.

The Crack Emcee said...

You're all fruit loops - listen to a black Republican speak:

"Folks are going to be skeptical of things. My grandmother used to say, 'Don't show it; do it.' You have to earn that. Talk is cheap. Show us what you're saying is true."

All you "folks" show is your racism,...

Tank said...

Black English spice kit

Part of the Con Man tool kit.

CStanley said...

If he had just pointed out that all politicians adopt colloquial speech patterns at times and it is unfair to criticize a black president for it, his argument would be fine. But somehow it had to be made into an argument that Obama's use of informal language is double plus better than anyone else's, which is idiotic.

Wilbur said...

I ain't no ways tired of this topic.

jono39 said...

Slavery of course is the great stain on the Republic, a burden we finally began to struggle with in the middle of the last century. Obama is one of the heavier fruits of this continuing struggle. Remarkably and almost uniquely O. could choose which race he wished to belong to. He did choose and we rewarded him. For me, he is our Reparations. The bill is still being compiled.

Laura said...

Standardized English = Racist.

Standardized Spanish = Univision.

Target logo = red + white.

Math is hard, Barbie.

damikesc said...

Obama drops his g's just like Sarah Palin drops her g's.

But Obama --- who has been wrong on basically everything --- is a sooper genius while Palin --- who has nailed Obama accurate for 6 yrs now --- is a moron, apparently.

Anything black is a target,...

I'm more black than Obama.

What does rich shit Obama know about poor black people? Outside of the fact that they should idolize him or something?



MayBee said...

CStanley said...
If he had just pointed out that all politicians adopt colloquial speech patterns at times and it is unfair to criticize a black president for it, his argument would be fine. But somehow it had to be made into an argument that Obama's use of informal language is double plus better than anyone else's, which is idiotic.

======

Perfect.

ken in sc said...

I liked Crack better when he went on about new-age religion, murderous ex-wives, and the French. His new focus on white people being evil is not only racist, it's boring.

Shanna said...

the phrase, "We tortured some folks," will go down in history as one of the most awkward, off-note, self-aggrandizing things said by any president on such a topic.

That was awful. This kind of stuff is clearly a choice by OBama, to be 'folksy', which is why it often sounds fake. That and the fact that his background is more continental and less hometown. He looks most like himself in nerdy or dressed up clothes, he sounds most like himself when he speaks properly. The rest doesn't seem natural.

Shanna said...

And the 'he's hiding his ability to speak indonesian so people won't think he's muslim' thing was bs. If he does speak indonesian (I haven't heard one way or the other), he doesn't often have a reason to do so. He's certainly not hiding it by not speaking it to random americans.

Anonymous said...

"All you "folks" show is your racism,..."

The muttering guy begging for quarters around here used to at least be understandable. "Give me money." "White people are hurting black people." These statements, while respectively futile and wrong, are at least comprehensible.

These days his posts don't even hold together as coherent sentences. I never really understood why the professor didn't get the cops to clear the bum off her doorstep and hose the place down. Maybe now that he's lost the ability to type recognizable English onto whatever pilfered device he's using for Internet access, she'll boot him for aesthetic reasons if nothing else.

William Chadwick said...

I've found that, generally speaking, the more swagger, the less substance.

John said...

I was not aware that Obie spoke Indonesian. Is that true that he does? I do know that he speaks fluent bullshit.

As for first prez since Van Buren to speak a 2nd language that is fluid bullshit. GW Bush spoke Spanish, as others have pointed out. Eisenhower spoke German, I think. Herbert Hoover spent a number of years in China as a mining engineer and was even govt minister of mines for a while. He and his wife both spoke fluent Chinese and would often speak it around the house or in company when they wanted to communicate privately. They did this to the ends of their lives.

Hoover also wrote a number of books on varied subjects from mining finance, fly fishing, politics and world affairs. He wrote them himself with his wife as editor. No proto-Ayers was needed.

I have read several Roosevelt bios and was unaware that he spoke a second language. He was scientifically very literate and perhaps he spoke and wrote in German? The scientific language of the day.

John Henry

The Crack Emcee said...

Annie,

Ebonics is 'cracker talk'. Blacks picked it up from poor whites who came from parts of Scotland and England and settled in the south. They also picked up their white trash ways.
Unfortunately, they think it's their own made up culture, separate from whitey and wear it with pride in ghettos/inner cities. Fools."

Fools, Annie? Tough word. Let's test it with another one:

EVIDENCE.

Back it up. Anything - Wikipedia - play connect the dots with links. Show us this Hidden History Of Black Culture in all it's color:

I'm Dr. Crane and I'm listening,...

John said...

Turns out that Wikipedia has a page on multilingual presidents.

I like that Garfield could write Latin with one hand and at the same time Greek with the other. That is really odd.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_multilingual_Presidents_of_the_United_States

McWhorter might want to do some basic research:


James A. Garfield not only knew Ancient Greek and Latin, but used his ambidexterity to write both at the same time. Both Roosevelts spoke French, and Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke German. Herbert Hoover spoke fluent Mandarin Chinese. No contemporary president has gained proficiency in a foreign language, although Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush displayed a limited ability in Spanish, whilst Bill Clinton had some knowledge of German.

The Crack Emcee said...

ken in sc,

"I liked Crack better when he went on about new-age religion, murderous ex-wives, and the French. His new focus on white people being evil is not only racist, it's boring."

Just like your avatar,...

John said...

Crack is right on this. Ebonics is black English invented by blacks for blacks.

It is what they spoke in the western part of Africa. They taught it to the white crackers when they got here. Whites lost their mother tongue and culture but blacks preserve it in Ebonics.

Sheesh! I thought everyone knew that.

Annie, yeah, provides some links. You know, like Cracker does when he makes his outlandish statements.

If he can do it, so can you.

John Henry