7 Irksome Ways Your Beloved Elders Fuck Up the English Language » VSB

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7 Irksome Ways Your Beloved Elders Fuck Up the English Language

If you’re a young person well-versed in blackness, you’re bound to be creative with the English language. But thanks to the Internet, this creativity has become less regional and maddeningly uniform. So a black dude could trek from New York to the Atlanta University Center in his Timbs and not be clowned for saying how long it took, deadass. Because he probably won’t be saying that. Though he will be clowned for wearing his Timbs at the freshman year pool party. Because he probably never took them off.

Just as younger generations of black folk have a solid 4 words that rotate in their tweets and IG captions — lit, melanin, poppin’, and Beyoncé if you had to guess–older generations have their own set of universal rhetorical quirks. But unlike the innovation of their 14-year-old grandkids, our dear elders tend to just misuse existing words.

It doesn’t matter which part of the country they’re in, your moms, pops, auntie, uncle and dem are probably fuckin’ up some English in the following irksome ways**:

1. Adding a gratuitous S

Red Lobster is a singular word. No one is being taken to Red Lobsters, unless you are indeed going to multiple Red Lobsters. In that case tell me which one has the best cheddar biscuits. With that said, a handy list of other not actual things:

  • Bella Noches
  • Krispy Kremes
  • wimmens
  • mens
  • chirrens
  • the Internets

For all you Atlantans, that means Essos, Visions, and Krogers– the locales of all your late night flirtations and incessant removal of promo flyers from your car windshields– do not exist. And neither does “Ofras” (that’s Oprah, according to my grandma everybody).

2 a. Making plural words singular

In an odd stroke of genius, our elders’ capacity to pluralize words often does not extend to words that actually should be plural. This is especially so if you have family from the West Indies. In my kid days, I’ve been instructed by the aforementioned grandma to pick up my foot (aka both feet), put on my pant (which, arguably, makes more sense), and stop smacking my lip.

2. b. In a similar twist, because black folks are unpredictable except when we’re not, Dave & Buster’s and Chuck E. Cheese’s just lost all possession of their respective adult/child playgrounds, because we have universally determined they will merely be known as Dave and Buster and Chuck E. Cheese.

3. The gratuitous R

I don’t know what an idear is. Or an Obamer. Or a ‘mote controller, or cotrolla if we want to get technical. I do know what an idea is, that Obama is our President, and a remote changes the TV channel…or so I’m told. Because “nearest child” has been used interchangeably in our house even when the remote is sitting right there ma!

4. On today. On yesterday. On tomorrow.

Black people like to do the most. In this case do less. If we just say “yesterday” and “tomorrow,” people will still know what we’re trying to say. I mean, I really don’t understand who started this. Was it the same NY cat who, while standing behind the McDonald’s register to save up money the summer before his AUC trek,  summoned the customer next “on line” instead of “in line” (this is real..and can only be found within the confines of New York City. Side note: are NYers so easily make fun-able because they take themselves so seriously?).

I can tolerate us being on one, though I still don’t know what this means if we’re being honest. I can even get used to us being on CP time. That’s the only time that exists to me, really. I can probably also get past you saying “quote on quote.” But I will under no circumstance be okay with you making plans for on today, on yesterday, or on tomorrow.

5. Valentime’s Day

Just stop it. Saint Valentine turns over in his grave in every week preceding and postceding (see, that’s made up, but I’m consciously aware of this) his eponymous celebration. He also told me he wants you stop it. He hasn’t done either, but whatever.

For all you black name having black folks (like me, my name is very black), it’s like that thing when a teacher sees all the letters in your name at roll call but they get confused and they’re under a lot of pressure because it’s the first day and they’re human too so they just say whatever and now you’re Melissa for a semester and even past that like when you apply for your first office job because #racism and that’s the only time you get calls back. Thanks Obamer!

6. The gratuitous “the”

Hey ma, yes I can log off the Twitter and the Facebook. Oooh and guess what? I can also log off Twitter and Facebook in the same exact way.

**As an avid AAVE advocate and participant, this not a judgment. It’s merely a description.

Malaika Jabali

Malaika Jabali is an attorney, writer, and activist with a J.D. and M.S. from Columbia University. When she's not getting a superfluous amount of degrees, she is defending A.I.'s practice rant, knucking if you bucking, and reviewing the meme calendar to ensure its accuracy. You can follow her on the twitter at @MalaikaJabali.

  • 7. Messing up words that start with “sp” aka pronouncing specific as pacific or spaghetti as pisgetti.

    • KMN

      or the “sk” as in skreet lmao…

      • Yes. This one is actually cool though lol

        • KMN

          I guess it depends on who does it…my mom got her tongue cut in the fields by her brother (looooooooong story lmao) and she always says skreet…I let her slide…errbody else…NOAP roflol

          • lol that sounds like a very interesting story indeed

            • KMN

              It is…I need to put that in a book…

      • refslady

        Like the lunch wagon? I had skreet skrimp for lunch on yesterday!

    • Detroit Skater

      pronouncing specific as pacific <<<< i have a cousin who does this; we are 40-ish… i look at her like what is wrong with you and i'm not gone tell you again it's SPecific.

      • Lol my mom does it and I done gave up trying to correct her. Her mom was from Alabama so I let it slide.

      • jbwphoto1

        I didn’t remember when I read Pacific earlier, but on the show Family Guy, Brian had a dumb blonde girlfriend talking about a show coming on Specfic Time. She said it means it comes on specifically at that a time.

        • Detroit Skater

          LOLOL… bless her lil blond heart… LOLOL

  • KMN

    I am soon to be 40 and I on occasion use the “the” with the twitter and the internets…Lawud I done turnt into an Arkansan grandma…y’all can call me Big Momma lmao

    • miss t-lee

      Girl…also.

      • Jennifer

        Join the club. Your membership card is in the mail.

    • Question

      I always say “the Google”.

      • Abby

        No, not the Google!

  • Brandon Allen

    I cannot stand “on tomorrow” or “on today” . It’s not even an error it’s just superfluous.

    • Ain’t you just bougie with your usage of superfl https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0be3d4abf7f0028cb70447ff7aa87b908ff9188657e4a5f366f7e47aae49131e.jpg uous in this space?

    • Kas

      How does extra strong fluoride fit into this conversation?

      • Brandon Allen

        Over my head.

        • Kas

          It was a big stretch
          Super = extra strong
          fluous = fluoride

          • Brandon Allen

            I thought it was superfluous = superfloss

            • Kas

              Yours is better.

    • miss t-lee

      This is notorious in church.

      • Brandon Allen

        If they took out some of those ons people could get home 30 minutes earlier.

        • miss t-lee

          Ha!

        • Cleojonz

          guffawing!

      • Malaika Jabali

        ALWAYS IN CHURCH

      • jbwphoto1

        I thought at first I didn’t recall hearing it, but then you mentioned church….

        • miss t-lee

          It’s really the only time I hear it…lol

    • Lisa L

      I. HATE. IT.

    • HoobaStankyLeg

      But “Not on to-night” is classic.

  • Kas

    Tarco for taco and umberella for umbrella. I love my mom but . . .

    • KMN

      or tacas…

    • Tarco…. Son.

    • Malaika Jabali

      like can she not

      no i don’t think she can not.

      • Kas

        She is psychology incapable of saying it without the “R”. I have literally sat with her like she is a child and walked her through how to to pronounce it.
        Me: say Ta
        Mom: Ta
        Me: say co
        Mom: co
        Me: now put it together
        Mom: tarco
        Me: well she does make the bomb tarcos. I give.

        • KMN

          awww that’s so cute…you’re a good boy to your momma

    • miss t-lee

      Tarco has me in tears right now. ?

      • Thats because you said it to yourself in your head like I did, lol

        • miss t-lee

          I’m glad I was at home still this morning when I read that. I would’ve gotten fired, I literally laughed until tears formed.

      • Love thyself

        R’s where they don’t belong and omitting them when they do, because ba-bu-que = barbecue.

        • Shanna

          I grew up hearing bobby-que.

          • Love thyself

            Sounds about right.

    • Cleojonz

      LOL I NEVER heard Tarco before.

    • cakes_and_pies

      My Mom can’t say roach or couch. It’s rorch and courch

      • PhDivaLife

        My mom does this, too. She also says coarch instead of coach. He’s the new basketball coarch lol

      • MsKeisha23

        Ro’ich…

    • Mochasister

      Tarco sounds like a name of a medication.

  • Or gratuitous m’s… telefoam… BYE.

    I said EVERY word and died at the same time… Omg..lmao

    • Malaika Jabali

      UGGH I knew there was one I forgot. It was this one!!! UGGGHHH

    • And don’t be on the telefoam durin that thunder and lightnin.

      • Yes!!!!

      • Niecy

        Oh, you good as dead if you do that.

        • You have to wonder is someone has ever died of this because so many old Black folks believe it.

          • Kas

            For landlines there is truth to it.

    • vulcan_girl

      I know people who say telephoneg. Yes, with a g.

  • What about patterin for pattern? Uuuuugh my ears burn

    • KMN

      now see that’s a new one…I’ve never heard that one…pronouncing all the unnecessary letters lmao

    • AnswerMe

      Hate it.

    • Ess Tee

      I’ve often wondered if there’s some issue with the “rn” (is that a diphthong? What’s the opposite of a diphthong for consonants?) being near each other. But now as I’m thinking on it, I’ve never heard that same thing for, say, “urn.”

      • Word.. I hear it A LOT from young and old.. I can’t call it… it’s the same thing as my daughter still saying vitanims in place of vitamins… She knows what’s correct but something in her won’t let her say mins… lol

        • Leah

          My son says “patterin”– I had never heard anyone else say it that way until him. He’s still little though, so my ears aren’t burning yet. Now in ten years….

    • My mom does this all the time lmao

      • It’s Hella common… I wonder where the disconnect is…

    • Qris_10

      I have a cousin in her early 30s that says patterin…..Sadly, not just elders

    • Cleojonz

      awww my daughter used to say that and I thought it was so cute. I was sad when she started pronouncing it correctly.

      • Judges you…lmao

        • Cleojonz

          Don’t judge me! My kids are adorable! We still call Starbucks – Starbuckets because of my youngest. She also translated California Pizza Kitchen into Cali-pizza-forma-kitchen. She is the best kid ever.

          • Dito!!! It’s the same way my baby says vitanims… It’s cute but I’m judging.. lol

    • Reecie

      oooh I hate this one!

      also “southeren” for SOUTHERN. hate hate hate.

    • Abby

      See, I think this is one of those Black or Country? things.

  • AnswerMe

    When spelling a word that contains R my dad now says “R ruh” He never did that in the 30 yrs previously, but has now decided r has two syllables. Must’ve flipped the NC country roots but raised in the city switch at 60 I guess.

    • Malaika Jabali

      lmao

    • Haaaaaa.. R ruh is DEFINITELY for folks over 60..m

    • Ess Tee

      Every time I hear “arruh” I thin about the time Sugar Ray Leonard was on Wheel of Fortune. I was a kid but still dying when he’d tell Vanna “Give me an arruh!”

      • AnswerMe

        I need to see this now.

        • KMN

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sJcQLN9NWo
          Enjoy…hope that has it on there…plantation got The Youtubes blocked lolol

          • miss t-lee

            Yooo

            • KMN

              ROFL

              • miss t-lee

                He said it with the utmost confidence.

                • KMN

                  hisass wasn’t playing roflol

          • Jennifer

            Painful. Just painful.

      • miss t-lee

        No way..this happened?

        • Ess Tee

          lol. OK, I had to Google this. It turns out that he didn’t shout out “Give me an arruh!” but he did ask “Can I have an arruh?” (Skip to :30)

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sJcQLN9NWo

          • Jennifer

            Oh, I heard it the first time.

  • KMN

    Code switching at it’s finest…I love our people lolol

    • Malaika Jabali

      Our peepo are the best

    • miss t-lee

      Fa sho.

  • tiggatae

    Awww… I want to say leave auntie and nana alone… but then I remember how when nana needed brain scan she had to see the “neurology” so he could determine if there was something wrong … according to auntie… sigh…

    • Kas

      Let us not go down the rabbit hole of medical terms. I have taken to just sending my wife along with mom on any serious doctor visits. Otherwise, no one has a clue as to what the dr. actually said.

      • tiggatae

        Man… Listen! We are just trying to get that started with nana… but after this last visit… I’m feeling we have to rethink who’s allowed to go with nana…

        • Kas

          All kidding aside, you should. I feel like older Black people have so much respect for the position they won’t ask questions or push back when given suspect treatment regimens.

          • KMN

            you got that right…all respect to them because they are a dying breed…these kids today ugh

          • tiggatae

            Yeah, we’re trying. That lady is stubborn! And wondering why she got a family full of hard-headed kids… I tell her all the time now, we clearly got it from you!

    • Other_guy13

      I mean….I’m sure it says “neurology” somewhere in the building so I’ll allow it.

    • miss t-lee

      I love it.

    • IsitFridayyet?

      Maybe my med terminology is completely off, but I feel like nana was right all she didn’t add was “-logist” at the end.

      • tiggatae

        Yeah… since since she was talking about the doctor, and not his field of practice… it should have been -logist… at least to my ocd ears…

  • Was in line at am event one day (because I am NOT from New York and understand how lines work), and a nice older lady who apparently had an internet radio show was handing out flyers and exhorting any “artisses” in line to get in contact with her.

    I ’bout damn near ruptured my gut trying not to laugh at her; it was adorable.

    • Jennifer

      Thank you for the extra bit of New York shade. They don’t know.

    • Bklady

      OOOOH…The shade ya’ll throwing on NY! But yes, I still say “on line” it just rolls off my tongue…Like, I can’t say “I’m in line at Starbucks”- never…I just fumbled over my words just typing that. Nope, Nope, Nope.

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