Drug Law

DEA Looking for Ebonics Experts

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

Linguists have long argued whether Ebonics is a real language. Either way, the Drug Enforcement Administration is looking for people who are fluent in the dialect to help in the war on drugs.

According to a report on The Smoking Gun, as many as nine Ebonics experts will be hired for the DEA's Atlanta office to monitor, translate, and transcribe the secretly recorded conversations of subjects of narcotics investigations.

Ebonics is a variant of English spoken largely by blacks. John R. Rickford, a Stanford University professor of linguistics, has described it as “Black English” and noted that “Ebonics pronunciation includes features like the omission of the final consonant in words like ‘past’ (pas’ ) and ‘hand’ (han’), the pronunciation of the th in ‘bath’ as t (bat) or f (baf), and the pronunciation of the vowel in words like ‘my’ and ‘ride’ as a long ah (mah, rahd).”

Others say it should not be considered an English dialect -- rather, it is a bastardization of the language, they say.

In its job documents, the DEA lists 114 languages it employs translators, divided into “common languages” and “exotic languages.” Ebonics is listed as a “common language” spoken solely in the United States.

In addition to the nine Ebonics experts, the DEA’s Atlanta office is also looking for 144 Spanish, 12 Vietnamese, nine Korean, nine Farsi and four Jamaican patois translators.