DEA Seeks Ebonics Experts To Decipher Wiretap Language


The Department of Justice is seeking to hire linguists fluent in Ebonics to help monitor, translate, and transcribe the secretly recorded conversations of subjects of narcotics investigations, reports The Smoking Gun. Up to nine Ebonics experts will work with the Drug Enforcement Administration's Atlanta field division, where the linguists, after obtaining a “DEA Sensitive” security clearance, will help investigators decipher the results of “telephonic monitoring of court ordered nonconsensual intercepts, consensual listening devices, and other media.”

Ebonics has been described as a nonstandard variant of English spoken largely by African Americans. John Rickford, a Stanford University professor of linguistics, has described it as “Black English” and noted that “Ebonics pronunciation includes features like the omission of the final consonant in words like 'past' (pas' ) and 'hand' (han'), the pronunciation of the th in 'bath' as t (bat) or f (baf), and the pronunciation of the vowel in words like 'my' and 'ride' as a long ah (mah, rahd).” Detractors reject the notion that Ebonics is a dialect, instead considering it a bastardization of the English language.

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