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Cynique

This 'N That

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Well, with a new television season on the horizon, fans of the small acreen are being bombarded with the trailers touting all the new and returning shows.

 

The announcement that jolted me the most was the revelation that Valerie Harper will be a contestant on Dancing with the Stars!  It wasn't too long ago that Mary Tyler Moore's TV sidekick, a/k/a Rhoda, was appearing before cameras, putting on a brave face announcing that she had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Although in her early 70s, Valerie/Rhoda was still feisty and upbeat, vowing to fight to the end.  I feel so inadequate. Here this half-dead septagenarian is getting ready to go through her paces, subjecting herself to the demands of acing with the Stars, and it's all I can do to take a daily walk! You go, girl!

 

What envokes the biggest yawn from me are the sound bites from Steve Harvey, whose popular talk show is based here in Chicago.  Sporting his toothy grin, promising an upcoming season of more of the same drivel that has made him a favorite among daytime viewers, I'm less than enthusiatic about Steve's program.  

 

Harvey's appeal has always eluded me although his long running sit-com did prove he was capable of getting chuckles by saying what was written for him by others.  But as a stand-up comedian, his humor was forgettable and his delivery desperate. (R.I.P. Bernie Mack. You were one of a kind.) 

 

A native of big-city Cleveland, inexplicably adopting the persona of a countrified dufus from  down south, Steve uses his TV talk show to dispense the simplistic home spun advice that  anyone with an iota of common sense should be able to figure out for themself.  Elsewhere, his best-selling books telling women how to "think like a man" are nothin more than a re-hashing of the men-are-from-Mars and women-from-Venus litany.  All decked out in the sartorial splendor that doesn't quite achieve the swag of suaveness, as the host of Family Feud, Steve repeatedly exposes himself as being ill-informed and baffled by what should be common knowledge.   I don't catch his early morning radio show, but his black urban demograph doesn't call for him to do anything other than to provide black folks with an outlet for shuckin' and jivin' and bitchin'.

 

Whatever. Steve Harvey has captured success.  You can't argue with that.  But you can analyse it. For one thing, he appeals to white people. Why? Because he projects the image of a non threatening black man.  Smiling and muggin, playing the clueless buffoon, he entertains them.  Secondly, he appeals to the black masses because he acts like one of their own. He's down to earth and god-fearing, and at ease in the ebonic vernacular.  Who cares about having your intellect stimulated by black men of substance?

 

Furthermore, who's to say that sly Steve Harvey hasn't earned his props in the superficial world of show biz? Speaking of which, the re-emergence of Arsenio Hall as a late night talk show host is also on the new fall show agenda. White audiences probably won't tune him in.  He doesn't come across as harmless enough    

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Steve Harvey has done what matters most and that is make more money that most people.  You don't have to be the smartest guy, or the funniest one but you do have to be willing to work hard.  And nt matter what you say about Steve he does work exceedingly hard.  Steve or his people also know how to promote the Steve Harvey brand and are obvioulsy doing quite well.

 

I rememeber seeing Steve perform in West Palm Beach, FL in the 1991. I went to see any Black comedian who came to town.  I rememeber him because I did not care for the show.  He was not terrible, but he did not illcit any laugher from me. Perhaps he was doing his "white" audience routine...I don't know.  I was unfamiliar with him before the show, but realized who he was after he blew up.

 

Speaking about white audiences during that time I saw a lot of comedians.  Sam Kennison was the funniest guy I saw during that era. 

 

I remember Rhoda.  I did not even know she was still working.  But I have not watched a TV sitcom in a very long time.  I have been watching HBO series.  My favorite right now is Boardway Empire which debuts Sunday.  But I'll be watchingfFootball and playing poker with the fellas on Sunday.  I watch these programs on demand anyway... 

 

Arsenio coming back.  I would have though he epitomized harmless.  Did he do something I don't know about?

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A native of big-city Cleveland, inexplicably adopting the persona of a countrified dufus from down south, Steve uses his TV talk show to dispense the simplistic home spun advice that anyone with an iota of common sense should be able to figure out for themself.

 

This is a little off the subject but................

I have wondered why Steve Harvey being from Clevaland has a strong southern accent and mannerism.

Perhaps it's his way of establishing a particular culture for his routine.

I've also wondered why so many young Black people in Chicago have strong southern accents.

I know most have roots in Mississippi and Lousiana, however after several generations of living in a big northern city it seems to me that that Southern drawl would have disapeared.

 

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I don't know that  Chicagoans speak with southern accents, Pioneer.  They most definitely speak Ebonics and street slang but they do so more with a slur than a drawl.

 

Roots in Mississippi, yes. Louisiana?  Not so much.  More like Georgia and Alabama and Arkansas.

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I clearly remember the 1st Black person I met from the was born and raised in the midwest -- because they sounded just like people in my family from the south.  It took a second to wrap my brain around this. 

 

I got pretty good at making the distinctions between Black midwestern (different that white) and Black southern accents.  But it is much harder now. 

 

My New York City bred kids sound just like their friends from Philly, DC, etc.  But I believe that is more of a class thing. People lower on the socio-economic scale speak quite differently than people in the same neighborhood.  Poor kids speak ebonics more more frequently than middle class kids regardless of where they live.

 

Also I have a cousin, from North Carolina, who used to always say "dis-n-dat".  But no one in NY City used that term -- unless they came from the south.  My cousin no longer uses the phrase today.  She simply grew out of it and is better able to express herself.  Naamean?

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Cynique
 


I don't know that Chicagoans speak with southern accents, Pioneer. They most definitely speak Ebonics and street slang but they do so more with a slur than a drawl.
Roots in Mississippi, yes. Louisiana? Not so much. More like Georgia and Alabama and Arkansas.

 

You've lived there longer than me so I stand corrected.
I was speaking from personal observations.


But I have noticed for years that a lot of youth from Chicago use terms like "look here" and "lemme tell ya sum'n" , and even have a little twang on the end of their words like people from either the South or the Southern Midwest.

Now this kind of dialect is common among people of all races in southern Illinois as it is in southern Indiana and Ohio but in Chicagoland it seems the only people with southern twang are Black youth from certain pockets of Chicago.

 

 

 

 

 

Troy
 


I clearly remember the 1st Black person I met from the was born and raised in the midwest -- because they sounded just like people in my family from the south. It took a second to wrap my brain around this.
I got pretty good at making the distinctions between Black midwestern (different that white) and Black southern accents. But it is much harder now.

 

I had a similar experience while living in Pittsburg.

When I first went there and saw all the rowhouses and brownstones, being in Pennsylvania I considered it an East Coast city, but people soon let me know it wasn't...lol.

I ran into so many people living there who were actually from New York and Philly that I was able to distiguish between a New York, Boston, and Philly dialect.
I also noticed bruthaz from Philly seem to like wearing beards.

Didn't spend much time in D.C. but going through there...just like Baltimore....the place LOOKS East Coast but Black people seem to act and sound southern and rural.

 

 

The Midwest is divided into 2 sub-regions.....

The "heartland" which comprises of Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, ect....
And the Industrial Midwest which comprises of Michigan, Wisconsin, and the northern parts of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.
Those to regions are VASTLY different in not only dialect but in culture and values.

I was driving through Iowa and had to laugh at how the gas stations allowed you to pump your gas BEFORE paying....lol.

 

 

 


My New York City bred kids sound just like their friends from Philly, DC, etc. But I believe that is more of a class thing. People lower on the socio-economic scale speak quite differently than people in the same neighborhood. Poor kids speak ebonics more more frequently than middle class kids regardless of where they live.

 

It seems to me that in many Black neighborhoods around America conditions are reversing. Due to budget cuts and the lack of proper education, ignorance is making a comeback.

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Drawls, accents, twangs.  these are all in the ears of the listener and it depends on what part of the country the listener is from, obviously.

 

When I think "twang", speech that is nasal and high-pitched is what comes to my mind. which is why I disagree with twang being the word to describe how black Chicagoans talk.  They speak from their throat and their tongues sometimes get in the way, all of which contributes to their tendency to mumble and to pronounce the word "ask" as "aks".  They punctuate their speech with a  lot of "you know what I'm sayin'" interjections and they kind of riff when they talk.   They also use the word "like" to introduce a phrase; e.g: "like, you know what I'm sayin?".  In speaking Ebonics, they have a long history with the verb "be".   It's almost as if it helps to validate their very existence:  "like, she be actin crazy, or Girl, I be so tired."   

 

Upwardly mobile Chicagoans, however,  are very proficient at being bi-lingual, and are able to switch to standard English when the occasion calls for it. 

 

When I would visit the South back in the day, comments were always made about my speech.  The fact that I talked fast seem to almost mesmerize folks, especially older people. 

 

Language is certainly tied to region and culture and is a fascinating subject. 

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Troy


Speaking of racial differences....
One of the biggest differences between Black New Yorkers and White New Yorkers is the way most pronounce the letters "t" or "th" in a word.

Take the word "something" for example.........

Most Black New Yorkers will pronounce it as "suh-in" or "suh-aaann" depending on their mood.

"I didn't know you felt that way.....you shoulda said suh'in !"



Most White New Yorkers will prounce it as "sum-tin"

For example a couple times in Manhattan a little pudgy White man with a balding head has walked up to me with a goofy smirk on his face saying:

"I know I don't know you but can I eeeeask (ask) you sumtin (something)?
If I just came out of nowheeah (nowhere)....like just now...and flat out told you that you were an alright looking Black guy would you get meeead (mad)?"


These were 2 different White dudes but they had the same profile and goofy smirk, lol.





Cynique

 


Drawls, accents, twangs. these are all in the ears of the listener and it depends on what part of the country the listener is from, obviously.
When I think "twang", speech that is nasal and high-pitched is what comes to my mind. which is why I disagree with twang being the word to describe how black Chicagoans talk. They speak from their throat and their tongues sometimes get in the way, all of which contributes to their tendency to mumble and to pronounce the word "ask" as "aks". They punctuate their speech with a lot of "you know what I'm sayin'" interjections and they kind of riff when they talk. They also use the word "like" to introduce a phrase; e.g: "like, you know what I'm sayin?". In speaking Ebonics, they have a long history with the verb "be". It's almost as if it helps to validate their very existence: "like, she be actin crazy, or Girl, I be so tired."

 

Like most Black people from Michigan I use the term "yall" but I don't pronounce it with a twang.
I pronounce it as "yaw".

"Hey....where yaw goin' "



People down South and in the southern Midwest seem to pronounce BOTH "L's" when they say it.
That's a real twang, lol.

I'm living in Western Michigan right now and there's a lot of Black people from Chicago here.
Although I've heard the "she be actin crazy" I haven't heard the "I be so tired".

You've brought up Ebonics a few times, I think I'll give my take on it in my Black Grammar thread.



 


When I would visit the South back in the day, comments were always made about my speech. The fact that I talked fast seem to almost mesmerize folks, especially older people.

 

Now the speed at which Black people from Chicago speak is what saves them from being called "country"...lol.
The southern dialect is ofset by the big city quickness.

I used to tease friends from Chicago by saying maybe they talked fast because they had to say what they had to so they could hurry up and get in out of the cold, lol.



 


Language is certainly tied to region and culture and is a fascinating subject.

 

The way people (even of the same race) look seem to be tied to region also.
When it comes to AfroAmericans over 60 I used to be able to tell which ones were born in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
I used to scare some people I was so accurate, lol.

Of all the southern states, people from Georgia seem to have the nicest looking skin.


 

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