Justice Department Seeks Ebonics Experts

DEA to hire nine “Black English” linguists

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DEA Ebonics Contract

AUGUST 23--The Department of Justice is seeking to hire linguists fluent in Ebonics to help monitor, translate, and transcribe the secretly recorded conversations of subjects of narcotics investigations, according to federal records.

A maximum of nine Ebonics experts will work with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Atlanta field division, where the linguists, after obtaining a “DEA Sensitive” security clearance, will help investigators decipher the results of “telephonic monitoring of court ordered nonconsensual intercepts, consensual listening devices, and other media”

The DEA’s need for full-time linguists specializing in Ebonics is detailed in bid documents related to the agency’s mid-May issuance of a request for proposal (RFP) covering the provision of as many as 2100 linguists for the drug agency’s various field offices. Answers to the proposal were due from contractors on July 29.

In contract documents, which are excerpted here, Ebonics is listed among 114 languages for which prospective contractors must be able to provide linguists. The 114 languages are divided between “common languages” and “exotic languages.” Ebonics is listed as a “common language” spoken solely in the United States.

Ebonics has widely been described as a nonstandard variant of English spoken largely by African Americans. 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).”

Detractors reject the notion that Ebonics is a dialect, instead considering it a bastardization of the English language.

The Department of Justice RFP does not, of course, address questions of vernacular, dialect, or linguistic merit. It simply sought proposals covering the award of separate linguist contracts for seven DEA regions. The agency spends about $70 million annually on linguistic service programs, according to contract records.

In addition to the nine Ebonics experts, the DEA’s Atlanta office also requires linguists for eight other languages, including Spanish (144 linguists needed); Vietnamese (12); Korean (9); Farsi (9); and Jamaican patois (4). The Atlanta field division, one of the DEA’s busiest, is the only office seeking linguists well-versed in Ebonics. Overall, the “majority of DEA’s language requirements will be for Spanish originating in Central and South America and the Caribbean,” according to one contract document.

The Department of Justice RFP includes a detailed description of the crucial role a linguist can play in narcotics investigations. They are responsible for listening to “oral intercepts in English and foreign languages,” from which they provide verbal and typed summaries. “Subsequently, all pertinent calls identified by the supervising law enforcement officer will be transcribed verbatim in the required federal or state format,” the RFP notes.

Additionally, while “technology plays a major role in the DEA’s efforts, much of its success is increasingly dependent upon rapid and meticulous understanding of foreign languages used in conversations by speakers of languages other than English and in the translation, transcription and preparation of written documents.” (11 pages).

Comments (94)

awwwww now, Clayton....that's not the way to be. Aren't you aware that Barak Obama was going to close the gap between the races? That everyone would get along? They hate us more than ever and we step back even further than ever before, so as not to have to deal with them.
First Jive Dude: Shiiiiit, maaaaan. That honky muf' be messin' mah old lady... got to be runnin' cold upside down his head, you know? Second Jive Dude: Hey home', I can dig it. Know ain't gonna lay no mo' big rap up on you, man! First Jive Dude: I say hey, sky... subba say I wan' see... Second Jive Dude: Uh-huh. First Jive Dude: ...pray to J I did the same ol' same ol'! Second Jive Dude: Hey... knock a self a pro, Slick! That gray matter backlot perform us DOWN, I take TCB-in', man! First Jive Dude: Hey, you know what they say: see a broad to get dat booty yak 'em... First Jive Dude, Second Jive Dude: ...leg 'er down a smack 'em yak 'em! First Jive Dude: COL' got to be! Y'know? Shiiiiit.
<-------crying laughing.....
aahahhaha! that's awesome!
Dear America, This is why we hate you. Love, The World.
1st thing that comes to mind....AIRPLANE!!! "I speak Jive"
When will we quit bending over in order stop pis*ing off a certain minority group?
The pixxing will stop when "minorties" clean up their act to the extent of what is expected of honkies. BTW, minorities in the state of California have become those who are melanin challenged, and they become more a minority everyday. The USA began as a melting pot and has morphed into a chamber pot.
Sorry about the hiccup. This is more dumb crap being institutionalized. There is no such thing as ebonics; if that were the case, I guess those fools from The Jersey Shore have a language to teach, right? How about everybody from the Bronx? How about the current trend of dropping the letter g, so it becomes dropp-n instead? I call bulls--t on this. mewp, I'd love to see you explain how I first heard it when I attended a majority white middle school.
Check with ***e Lee, he probably has the time. If not there is always Jackson and Sharpton.
This action is an insult to decent black persons who strive to be educated and caring citizens. It is the "dumbing down" of the expectations of that race to the lowest possible level....uneducated persons and criminals too lazy to learn the national language. It is disgraceful. "Ho"., "ax or axt", "MF", "honkie", "da man"...these terms are familiar to all of us, as they are often used by the less industrious, but they are not used by most black persons, as even the mispronunciation itself is embarrassing to them. No black speaks both ebonics and English in everyday life, even though each can understand both. This is citing the blacks as a different class of people, even if linguistically, which should be an affront to all of us.
Most of the comments on here are absurd. Yes, "ebonics" is a language; it follows the same basic rules as all other languages. The only difference (as one particularly douchy commenter mentioned above) is that there are currently no nationally-recognized standards to hold the language against, ie. no definitive test has yet been invented to establish whether one can be considered "fluent" in it. The problem is (as evidenced by most of the comments here), the vernacular has strong racial ties, and prejudice is probably the only hindrance between "ebonics" being considered a language just like any other.
The only people that can help are people who are involved in the drug culture. most of these people have been criminalized, by the same people who seek to hire them to do this work, you cant work for them if you have a record, and if you dont got no record you dont got no cred, no cred, means you dont have a chance of figuring out what they are saying you have to be a part of the culture before you know what they are saying, which means, they have to go to the Jails to find the help they need, Sounds crazy right, ...
Does this mean all those years I spent studying Jive in the 70's doesn't qualify me?
"Excuse me, Sir. I speak Jive..." Loved that line. Hey, I speak Redneck. Wunder if'n I kin git a job tew.
I said to my staff, see can you make sure they not drug users theyselves! Else we be in mo' trouble than we in now!
I forgot about "ebonics"; you mean somebody teaches this stuff? In the mid 70's I worked with a black guy who said teaching ebonics was one of the worst things to happen to blacks. "Why make us more stupid?", he would say.
Ebonics is lazy English and is simply a dialect not another language. I taught in a black high school and picked it up in about 10 minutes. It isn't hard. This is just another excuse to needlessly spend money. I would be willing to bet that most of the people in the white house speak it and in government. Why not get them to translate if the DEA is too stupid to figure it out.
If ya axe me, that sounds racist.
Does Eric Holder even know what the DOJ is doing RE: ebonics?? How could he allow such a non-PC item to be on the DOJ agenda??
Cause when all this went down, you know, I be out back wif my homies, drinking some wine.
These are set aside jobs for the New Black Panthers as a reward for their intimidation of white voters at the 2008 voting sites.
Dat chit iz dope! Ima audi dis mudda fuqr n ima make it rain lyke snoop!
Just another example of a Federal Jobs Program that will be paid for with Chinese debt. Sucka's
Try "Hooked on Ebonics"
Speak de langage, muhfuggas, nomesane?
You forgot on of the most commonly used "Ebonic" distortions of the English language. That is, changing "sk" to "x". Thus, the word "ask" becomes "ax", etc. One must know these things if one is going to be an Ebonics translator. As for myself, I am hoping Columbia starts up a PhD program in Ebonics...then I can finish my "Hatred for America" degree and stay in school for another 4 years.
She says it's easy to learn. lol Anyway, people speak differently in different parts of the country so I think the fact that they need "ebonics" translaters is dumb. It is not like it's some kind of common language like the others listed there.
watch this classic from Atlanta...gotta watch the whole thing. Also google boo got shot for some other remixes. Gotta love living in a chocolate city.
Whites need not apply! Gotta hand it to obama/holder. A new way to transfer white taxpayer's money to Blacks. Not sure if they've targeted gangsta rappers or Black edicaters (Cornel West, Gates, Ogletree. etc) for my money. Only sure thing is that the Criminal Black Caucus are laughing their axxes of! Ol Brer Rabbit done fooled 'em into the briar patch agin!
Couldn't the Justice Dept just use the Google Translator? What's up with that?= Google Ebonics translation would be WTFMoFo?
OK, having been in law enforcement for 15 years (10 of it being federal), I have so many issues with this it isn't even funny - here's just a few: 1) If the DEA agents were actually doing their job and actually KNEW what their job was, they wouldn't need a "translator" to know what the people they are surveilling are saying. I'm a local cop now in a department in the greater D.C. area (i.e. ghetto) and these knuckleheads do have their own language. But you know what, after some time on the street, you figure it out and know what the hell they are saying to you when we stop them. Do your job guys and stop paying someone who is probably going to be a GS-12 or higher "linguist" from doing your job for you. 2) In the federal government, if you speak a foreign language as part of your job, you have to be certified. This requires a test, etc. I'm not aware of there being any kind of national standards for "ebonics" out there, so how are these supposed linguists going to be certified? Even my current department requires written tests and oral tests before someone is certified to officially speak a foreign language on the job (i.e. to get paid for it). 3) I'm really surprised at all of this to begin with - I haven't heard the term "ebonics" in years - I thought that was finally put to rest years ago since it was bullshi* to begin with. More pandering to the African American community - you cannot speak the English language correctly, so we'll just recognize your ghetto slang as a language, etc. Give me a break......... I may just have to apply for this job :)
Beaver Cleavers mom speaks Ebonics, doesn't she?
@isnrblo: No, Barbara Billingsley spoke Jive. :-D
But...experts in Ebonics necessarily are unversed in Standard English (which was denounced in a 1987 paper from the American Association of Teachers of English as a 'prestige dialect' which should not be inflicted on poor, inner-city youths). They'll have to hire translators for the translators. Ooooh...a bureaucrat's dream...
@momsaid: So you're saying that being fluent in one language or dialect means you can't also be fluent in another? I'm no linguist, but that doesn't sound quite right.
Sorry, but so long as Eric Holder is in charge, it's the 'Department of Injustice'.
I am sure they also have Trailer Trash-onics, Red Neck-onics also folksy-onics for dippy Palinist bimbos.
I speak Jive.
I think someone with a proven ability to translate in real time, like Barbara Billingsley, would be perfect for this position.
The low level, uneducated blacks I work with would LOVE to have a high paying GOBMENT job. Too bad the Socialist in charge of our school system for the last 50 years and the black civil rights leaders ginning up hatred in the black community couldn't have promoted unity instead of diversity and individualism. LMAO at this SAD state of American Progressive Thought.
Whoo Hoo, looking for black engrish jive talking mudda fuddas to decipher dem black folk talk. This is too funny.