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Nation/World - Stories from the latest print edition

    WHEN YOU TALK IN EBONICS, WORDS JUST GET IN THE WAY

    By Mike Royko
    Web-posted Wednesday, January 8, 1997; 6:01 a.m. CST

    I be tired hearin' abouts Ebonics. I dislikes hearing about it no more. Some momma, she writes me and ax why I don't write no column in Ebonics. I tells the hoe that be wack because I don't know how to talk Ebonics. I talks Honkyonics.

    But I wisht I do know Ebonics because I likes hearin' it. It be cool. And it save words.

    Like if you see a car. And it be a car that belong to Joseph. Most honky peeps say: Look, there is Joseph's car. Or there is a car that belongs to Joseph.

    That be lots of words. But in Ebonics, you says it short. You says: "Dat Joseph car." Or "Dat Joseph wheels."

    See? You digz?

    So what be so bad talkin' so you saves words. A word save be a word earn.

    Now these teachers who be in Oakand and Los Angeles, they no fools. They wanna ax the gov'ment for bread so's they can learn how to talk Ebonics.

    Then when they learns to talk Ebonics, they gonna teach the bro from the hood to talk like the anchor dudes on the TV.

    Then the bro from the hood get job.

    But everybody gets mad. They say it be bad. White folks, black folks, they say Ebonics ain't no fit language. What they know? They don't know squat, that what they don't know.

    Even Jesse Jackson. First he say it just gutter talk. And young homies who talk it, they can't get no job. Jesse say onliest way they get job is to talk like some honky fum Peoria.

    Then some teaching mommas in Oakland, they talk sense to Jesse. They tells him, "Preacher, we knows you a leader. But you dissin' us. And what you sayin' is just wack." And Jesse think on all that bread and he say, Yo, maybe these Oakland mommas know sump'n.

    So all the peeps who been dissin' Ebonics gotsta chill.

    If they smart, they ax the government for some bread to have their own onics.

    You go some hoods in ChiTown and you hears the homies there talking Polonics. That be the way some Polish honkies talk.

    Like I hear this one Pole say to another pole: "Hey, Stanley, I got one on you."

    And Stanley say: "What you got on me, Chester."

    And Chester say: "Ha-ha, last night I walk dog. I walk by your house. And bedroom shade up a little bit. And I look in. And I see you and your wife in bed under blanket making hanky-panky and whoopsy-do. That's the one I got on you, Stanley."

    And Stanley, he laugh and say: "Chester, you are real stupid guy and I got one on you."

    And Chester say: "What you got on me, Stanley?"

    And Stanley say: "You say you see me and my wife making hanky-panky last night?'

    And Chester say: "You betcha."

    And Stanley say: "Then the joke is on you, Chester. I'm at work all night."

    See, those folks gots their own onics. And down South, the rednecks gots their onics. Everywhere you goes, peeps talkin' in some kind of onics.

    Now, if'n all the peeps doin' the moanin' weren't ignorent, dey'd know that lotsa great stuff been writ in Ebonics.

    Like Shakespeare. When that Hamlet dude was messed up in his head, what he say?

    Hamlet say: To be or not to be? That be the question.

    It be Ebonics. And lotsa peeps pay good bread to hear some English dude talk it. So if Hamlet can talk Ebonics, why's the squawk about Oakland?

    I knows why. Cuz peeps are all bored with Newt. Peeps are all bored with Croatia and Serbia. Peeps are all bored with the regular news.

    But Ebonics give 'em somethin' talk about, even if they don't know nothin' 'bout what they talkin' 'bout.

    So I ax you, how a boy gonna learn to talk like a honky in Peoria if teacher don't know what the boy be sayin'. And how he gonna understand her if he don't know what she be sayin?'

    Don't make no sense to me. Can't nobody learn nothin' 'cept they understands what each other's sayin'. Yo, dat's dope.

    So I says that everybody should have they own onics. Then if you don't knows what I'm sayin' and I don't knows what you sayin', that be cool cuz then we can't get mad at each other.

    Now I gotsta jet.


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