Thursday, August 4, 2016

Word Nerd Yells at Racists!

It's that time again, folks. I just saw someone whining about "gibberish" in pop music destroying society, etc. First, stop. Just in general, this is the boringest boring-person argument ever about anything, and just trumpets the ignorance of the speaker so, you know, knock that off.

Here's a great tip: If something new and different sounds strange and therefore "bad" to you, it's more than likely 1. not for you and/or 2. coming from unfamiliar cultural source material. Give it a shot, ya'know? Or don't, whatever.

Anyway, they cited Rhianna's "Work" as an example of this dumbening. (Shut up, "dumbening" is a perfectly cromulent word!). Okay, so, conspicuous, depressing racism aside, you guys know the song isn't gibberish, right? The woman is from Barbados. The song is written/performed in Bajan, not standard English. Now, because Bajan is an English Creole, there's a ton of intelligibility, but the bits that sound off to an English speaker's ear are because, for starters, Bajan uses a lot of English grammar but it conjugates differently (zero copula, for example), and has a lot of loan words from Igbo, Manjaku, and Twi.

So, I can practically hear some of you, "How should I know that? Who has the time? Shut up, Drew! You're fat and stupid! Nobody cares! Shouldn't you be shaving your legs or something? Show us more dogs! We don't know what that girl sees in you!" Listen, I don't disagree with any of that. However, here's what I'm saying: if you're gonna talk about how "everything is falling apart" or whatever because of some snap judgment you made about something unfamiliar to you, 1. you're probably being at least a little racist since a lot of "unfamiliar" elements of pop culture are coming from, you know, those pesky voices that aren't being effectively shushed anymore (yay!), and 2. Maybe just do a little Googling before you spout off. Just a little! You think I knew all that crap about Bajan? I had a vague idea because I work with Barbadians (among other EC folks), and I know that language is a complicated thing because, you know, I went to college, but mostly it was 45 minutes on Wikipedia (which should have been 20 seconds, but I got sucked down a hole of really neat language stuff and then started reading about the Panama Canal). Anyway, moral of the story: