My Ghetto Talk

I was having dinner with my girlfriend last night and we started discussing the way that I speak in comparison to the way I write. Now, I’m no gifted writer but I know a little something and I can be fairly creative when I put my mind to it. However, my use of slang during everyday conversation is something that surprised her. If you’re around me long enough eventually you will hear me say, “Watcha gone do” and “Imma go get it” and a host of other broken English phrases I picked while surviving the streets of Chicago. It seems funny to her that people would never guess that I, at times, speak the way that I do.

I went on to explain to her that I know how to talk when it is necessary for me to sound intelligent. Or as my grandmother would say, ‘talk like I got some sense’. But with her and with my friends, the street slang flows and the Ebonics can get a little thick. I don’t talk that way at work or when I’m first introduced to people. But sit with me while watching a game or playing some pool, and you might here me say, ‘sup dawg’ or ‘yo, peep this, joe’ and the infamous, ‘man, I’m just tryin’ to handle up on my peace’. It’s just the way it is. It’s just the way I talk – at times.

According to her, I at times speak in a way that she associates with country folks. Granted, my people are from Arkansas and Tennessee, but my time in the south has been relegated to family reunions and a short sting during my military career. What is so funny about this subject is that I was accused of ‘talking white’ when I attended Austin Academy. If you know anything about the Chicago educational system, then you know that Austin is one of the most dysfunctional, so-called learning institutes in the city of Chicago. The fact that I could recognize a subject and a predicate in a sentence probably qualified me for valedictorian – so I didn’t pay the ‘talking white’ comment much attention.

I’ve held positions where I had to facilitate training sessions for engineers, factory workers and upper-management. I’ve always gotten compliments on my speaking voice when it came to dealing with people over the phone. So when the need arises I’ll talk like I’m using the good sense that God gave. But if you’re ever in the LA area and you’re in a bobby-q joint and you hear someone shout, ‘hey, ya’ll ain’t done put nuff sauce on dese here tips.’ That person just might turn out to be me. Please forgive me for that and try not to think that I’m stupid… I’m just talking.


8 Responses to My Ghetto Talk

  1. Cynthia Says:
    It's funny, I may say ya'll, but for the most part, my speaking voice and talking voice is the exact same.
  2. Dell Gines Says:
    I talk a mixture of ebonics and technical english on my TV show. I am sure people don't know how to take it sometimes :).

    When a brotha drops a phrase like:

    See, man da problem wit dat cat is, he uses way to much rhetoric and hyperbole...

    I can hear the white people now, 'golly gee, he is so intelligent but why does he have to use that slang!'
  3. jaimie Says:
    That was really good Jimmy. It's cool that you can switch back and forth like that. I'm always the same, I guess. No one has ever told me that I "talk white" but maybe that's because I'm half white anyway so they figure, "What would you expect? She's been around white people." I must admit to all who read this that when I first heard Jimmy switch up slang I did wonder where "college-educated Jimmy" went, but then he would magically reappear at work and in front of my mom. He's now slowly slipping into "slang-talkin' Jimmy" around my mom, and recently had to repeat at least three times a word for her because she couldn't understand. Love ya anyway!
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