Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Refrain From Using Ebonics At Work

I've grown up in the poorest of neighborhoods, but that doesn't change the fact that you will not--under any circumstances--catch me speaking in so-called Ebonics at work!

I can't believe how often I hear people, including grown folks, speaking in improper English at work, including in corporate America. Sorry, it's just not acceptable. We all, regardless of race, should be speaking in standardized English. It's the only way to be taken seriously, as well as to excel.

While I don't recommend using Ebonics at work. I have also previously recommended that Black workers refrain from trying to impress White coworkers and managers with a false mastery of the English language, as a way to prove worthiness and equality. This is especially true for anyone who has a poor vocabulary. It is way too easy to become the laughingstock at your office because you misuse some words and can't pronounce others.

It’s all well and good to want to improve your language skills, but you don’t gain any cool points by butchering the English language. Your clients don’t want to hear you using proper diction as you mispronounce words like “specifically.” How many of us know someone who pronounces the word “pacifically”?

And, while some people mispronounce certain words, other people misuse words like “plethora” and “extrapolate."

You don’t have to sit down with a thesaurus every night, so you can drop $10 word bombs on your White coworkers the next day. Impress people with basic and properly used English. In many cases, it’s best to keep language simple to understand. This is even true for writing, depending on your audience.

I’ve overhead Whites in my office snickering behind the backs of Black folks who misused a word or two or mispronounced words in common usage. Don’t set yourself up to be a joke. Work what you have, while you work to improve all of your skills.


Blogger Video News Blog said...

I enjoyed reading your comments. I remember many years ago, back in 1972 when I working in housekeeping in the ER of a large hospital.

I was on one side of the curtain mopping up blood from a gun shot would that had come into the ER.

I overheard two white nurses talking, and they were commenting about how unintelligible the family of the patient sounded. One made the comment that they all sounded as if they had marbles in their mouths... and they laughed.

I will never forget that moment, because it was then that I decided no one will ever accuse me of not speaking clearly and intelligently.

That day I started making the effort to increase the size of my vocabulary and to always speak clearly.

The following year I started x-ray school, and my life began.

Tom Mitchell-

9:44 AM  
Blogger Sandy Gholston said...

Wow, you posted a good blog today. I so often hear my fellow black colleagues try way too hard to sound intelligent using big and fancy words. It often backfires and leads to the kind of ridicule you spoke of. I always advise younger people to keep it simple and straightforward. Your advice is good: Don't clown yourself by trying to be something you're not.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Video News Blog said...

Thank you. It's a true story, and it had a direct and very profound impact on my life.

5:51 PM  
Blogger S. Mary Wills said...

I have heard Black coworkers say things and have been forced to look around to see if anyone White was standing nearby. It's mortifying!!

I've read emails with Ebonics and broken English. It's getting ridiculous.

Now, we've got the new generation coming up using texting lingo to write standard English. I've got coworkers, currently in college part-time, who joke about writing LOL and LMAO on papers they've submitted to professors. Are you kidding? They say they find it hard to write in complete sentences because of constant texting.

So, this is the new issue for Blacks and other youngsters coming up. They've got to get back to good habits and standard English!!

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am white. The best advice I can give to anyone, white or black is start with the basics. That is, learn basic grammer and the rest will follow. Someone who has poor grammer but uses "big" words is just transparent.

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a candidate interview for a job opening and he continued to say "ah eyet". The words should be "all right" Also he said "dat is good". I want to hire this guy but he must speak proper English.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*Recommends learning "basic grammer"*
*Spells grammar incorrectly*

Think, McFly.

11:58 PM  

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