August 24th, 2010
01:19 PM ET

DEA wants to hire Ebonics translators

Wanted by the Drug Enforcement Administration: Ebonics translators.

It might sound like a punch line, as "Ebonics" - the common name for what linguists call African-American English - has long been the butt of jokes, as well as the subject of controversy.

But the agency is serious about needing nine people to translate conversations picked up on wiretaps during investigations, Special Agent
Michael Sanders said Tuesday. A solicitation was sent to contractors as part of a request to companies to provide hundreds of translators in 114 languages.


soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Nick

    Excuse Me Stewardess, I speak Jive.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve-O

      LOL!.."Gonna' get some bootie-ackem, lay 'em down and smack-em yack'em!"

      August 24, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Just hang loose blood..she gonna catch ya up on the rebound with the med side.

      Chumpa wanna help? Chumpa no get no help.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Turner

      What it is big mama, my mama didn't raise no dummies, I dug her rap!

      August 24, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cindy

    Wow...what a bunch of racist pigs you commentators are. Some people have different languages and dialect....I would assume the black culture isn't any different. Just because you're white you think you can snub your nose at others that sound different and look different than you? What a load of crap. And yes, I'm white.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      and angry to boot!

      August 24, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      Ebonics isn't a language or dialect, it's a corruption of the English language. That the need someone to translate the wiretaps is no different than needing someone to decipher somebody's chickenscratch. They may use code, but then that isn't ebonics, is it? It's a code.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kunta

      It is a "language" that emerged during the days of slavery where African-American slaves would dumb down their language to appear ignorant to their masters (and it worked). Since then, it has perpetuated due to true ignorance and laziness (to learn proper English) and became more cryptic to confuse "the man" and to evade law enforcement efforts. Now, THAT is a cultured language, beeyotch!

      August 24, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paulie

      Isn't the 'man' Obama.... so whats the deal?

      August 24, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      They is some racist crackas, fo sho patna!

      August 24, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tracy

      You're an idiot. Ebonics is NOT a language. It's pure laziness. I know plenty of African American men and women who do not speak Ebonics and they agree that it's laziness.

      August 25, 2010 at 5:03 am | Report abuse |
  3. Toni

    "...Ebonics is no longer spoken only by African-Americans, Sanders said, referring to it as "urban language" or "street language." He said he is aware of investigations in recent years in which it was spoken by African-Americans, Latinos and white people. "It crosses over geographic, racial and ethnic backgrounds." "

    What about Ebonics transcending cultural (and socio-economic) lines do you NOT get? It must also kill "you people" that your kids want to dress like "us", blast "our" music from the cars you so thoughtfully provided for them and hang out in the ghetto with "us" "monkeys" and "baboons". Your bigotry and ignorance, as so aptly demonstrated by your comments, are a disgrace.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      it's ridiculous to classify it as a dialect since it's not universal. Just call it "slang" and be done with it. I agree with the your assessment of the crass comments that pervade this site.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • mamae

      so to sound really black where does that trailer park back wood inbreed white language spoken by the white people that mostly dress in sheets claim to be ancestors of slave owners who use dumb words like battreis fridgadare and gal.. please can someone tell what language they speak and while you do that I will ask all they white kids that come over to my house why they do they dress and talk and act like black kids they even call themselves wiggers go figure ... they tan to get dark too

      August 25, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Toni

    Your parents complained about the same sort of things when you were coming up, yet the world still turns. Neither my kids nor their friends (black, white, latino and asian) talk "street" around me and they all know better than to let me ever see their drawers. However, this country reflects a mixture of different cultures and ideas – each having different appeal to different people. The goal is to deal with it without making yourself look like a complete jack***.

    August 24, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Toni

      That's not a black person you smell - that's your self respect.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DeMorrio

    From most of these comments so far , I see that America has a long way to go still . Is that how we really look at each other ?

    August 24, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • jaysmith

      Crazy huh, but everyday media and people will tell no such thing or obstacles exist. Wonder why America is having issues...we still are all working against each other for who are the problems on US, instead of working together from community to community to change the US from BOTTOM UP! Its pretty obvious that no amount hate in the world will get it back to the days where one particular race can control and buy and sell others for improvement, so get used to your neighbor and make the best of it. I believe America will only become more of a melting pot in the future and those against equality will be banished to rallys and hiding behind sheets!( That goes too for the insane Black Panther leader I listened too on the internet, yo ass dumb too! Is that good enough English...

      August 24, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Smart Guy

    And for you educated Scholars Americans dont speak English they speak a slang of English. Only people in ENGLAND speak ENGLISH. But all of you are so smart and you knew that already. NOT!!!!!

    August 24, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clara

      English in England is just as slang ridden as American-English. It does not matter what variety of the English language people are butchering, slang is everywhere.

      August 24, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Paulie

    I was just to Africa, the people there did not speak Ebonics, they spoke Swahili.....

    August 24, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Myeshia


    This is just... nevermind.

    August 24, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JB

    the way theyre referring it "ebonics" is a formal way of saying people who understand this sort of "slang" and this different life style to bring that to the DEA's level of understanding. Whether they be latino, aisan, black, white, orange blue etc. Also, think about it.. you may say african-american. but they are just american now a days unless they came straight from africa. it would be like saying im german-american or french-american black or white. or if you are black doesnt mean you came from africa.. i.e. haitian-american.this shouldnt be a race card, just a question of how/ where a person was raised. you can not say "o you white people are trying to be like us black people by wearing your pants this way or playing your music so loudly." it is just how a person was raised.. and mostly influenced by certain friends. that is where the parenting must come into play as to teach your children how to chose better friends. but as we know not every kid out there has had a just so awesome parent there to help guide them. Ebonics is just like saying that a cuban could not understand exactly how a mexican or puerto rican speaks just because of such a heavy accent. As americans we've become smart enough to give that "slang" a name.

    August 24, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • jaysmith

      You will def cause a little ruckus, clarifying it as African American dialect and in the same breathe say the Dea needs interpreters to catch the type of people using it. The DEA and every other police affliated agency need to simply get they ass from behind desk and computers and get to the field, because when I walk around areas with high criminal activity it pretty obvious its going on and who's doing it and I don't need no ebonics to understand that!

      August 24, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ari Johnson

    I was outraged when I heard the DEA was hiring for "Ebonics" translatlor. But then Delores from Alabama called the show with her comments on a school in LA, CA; "ridicolist."

    August 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kunta

      Sound like someone be needin' a bamblance to pic dem up at da liBARY and axe dem a phew questions! You know awwm sayin' beeyotch?

      August 24, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Charliedon

    I hope the numerous idiotic and racist commentators here are not a reflection of the backward views of the caucasian public at large. If so, American society is in deep trouble. Shame on you.

    August 24, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. woody

    where my boo be hat?
    I needs to get my hair did
    i gotz to get my weave in and my kicks on
    ya na wha i mean?
    shiz dizzle faschizzle...
    in the nizzle...dizzle?
    go faschizzle yo self

    August 24, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jaysmith

    This article and the comments along with it shouldn't be a shock to anyone and how far off topic "grown ass" people can get! There are plenty of sites and physical areas you can go to, to continue hatred for particular sets of people. You didn't know, this is AMERICA!!! They let people set up rallys and spit some of the most hurtful stuff you can say to a person on a loud speaker(they sound about as dumb as "ebonics") and pay police to protect the scene. With that being said, lets focus on the problem and save the rest for a more suitable ,if u want to call it that, place and time CNN SHOULD'VE SIMPLY WROTE: IN AN EFFORT TO CRACKDOWN ON ALL RACES OF CRIMINALS IN AMERICA, THE DEA IS LOOKING FOR TRANSLATORS FAMILAR WITH THIS GENERATIONS EVERCHANGING CRIMINAL SLANG CODE. IF IT WAS SIMPLY A LANGUAGE AS SOME DESCRIBED, THEN THE DEA COULD LEARN IT THEMSELVES, LIKE MANY OF US HAVE WITH ENGLISH! "Man dumb people really do come in all shapes, sizes, colors and parts of the world, there ARE professions and places where "ebonics" has proven profitable, so if I could hire someone to decode P.Diddy language for me that would be great, I would love that dummy's success.

    August 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Phil

    Cindy appears to be racist. Ebonics is not owned by a particular race. Shame on you. Its your interpretation that is racist.

    August 24, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Boss

    I should refer the guy I fired last year for talking trash around customers. He'd prob. fit right in to the Fed program.
    Uneducated, cant speak and lazy ... he'd be perfect.

    August 24, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
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