29 August 2007


Am I a word stealer?

Apparently, it's socially questionable to adopt phrases from outside your native vernacular. By "native", I mean from whence you came, where you live now, or based on your subscriptions to race, religion, and sexual orientation.

But that so ain't me. I lurves me words from all places. I may dither mostly in English words, but I'm an equal opportunity offender, by trade. I usually mean that jokingly, but apparently offend I can.

I was taken aback last weekend when someone was taken aback at my use of "a'ight". The look on his face was clearly one of amused surprise with a hint of, um, dismay? that I'd be so bold as to use a word more commonly associated with his playbook than mine. Apparently, because he's black, and I'm white.

Really? I mean, aren't all the cool kidz saying a'ight? Heck, even the non-cool kidz are saying it. Said taken abacker queried where I got the term, and I mentioned my niece had been saying it for years. He asked who *she* got it from, and I said likely where she lived, or her boyfriend at the time. After a pregnant pause filled with "hmms", he said, "was her boyfriend black?". I affirmed.

Are folks so steeped in their own perspectives that collision of cultural phraseology is *actually* that shocking? Cuz in my neck, personally and professionally, cross-culture flavah-flave is the norm.

Go figger.


countrymouse said...

Oh dear, cheek . . . sounds like you ventured dangerously close to getting arrested by the culturally sensitive word police! If you ever need bail--just holla : )

And don't I wish I lived close enough to catch cheek in concert!

CheekierMeSly said...

I'd be pleased to be YOUR holla back girl, CountryMouse! And ya nevah know - you might need a southern sojourn sometime soon!

whitenoise said...

Actually, this is my very first exposure to that word. And, in my (admitedly limited) social circles, the only time I hear "holla", "peep", "crib", etc, is when Gwen Stefani's on the radio.