Relearning English in the USA

I was pretty confident about my language skill when I came to the USA in 2004 from India, but it took a nose-dive within 20 minutes of my landing there. It was amazing to hear the responses for all the “thank yous” I offered. From the regular “no problem at all, and my pleasure etc.” to a slightly unusual “no probs and you bet” to a stunningly musical “hmm…hmm” almost swept me off my feet.

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really? Really? REALLY? is the New "Whatever."

It’s funny how quickly colloquial street insults can change.  We know — “Whatever” is the New “F-You” — but did you know that “Really?” has become the new “Whatever?”

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The Memeing of Black Bitches

Do you agree with Isiah Thomas that Black Men can call Black Women “bitches” while White Men cannot?

If not, where — in the cultural meme that grew and molded Isiah Thomas — did he learn to believe that it was appropriate and expected to call Black Women “bitches?”

Are all Black Women “bitches” by default in Isiah’s mind — or does he use that derogatory term on only those women he believes are below him in status and competence?  Is his mother a bitch?  His wife?  His daughters?

The chilling lesson of Isiah Thomas’ Black Bitches is that he sets an example for bad behavior modeling in young people who look up to him to catch ideas and inspiration from a man — A Proud Black Man — many of us used to admire and emulate.

The New York Black Street Slang Exam

Welcome to the Go Inside New York Black Street Slang Exam!

Before the politically correct police bust us — brand us racist bigots — and toss us to the thought cops… let me explain why I’m posting this “Exam” here.

I’m posting it because I failed it. Everyone I know failed it. I am a woman from Council Bluffs, Iowa and my parents are Irish and German: You can’t get Whiter or more Wonder Bread than that! (Some of my friends tease me that you can’t get any more “Redneck” than that!)

This test is a fascinating lesson in the culture of a language and a language as a culture. Don’t think of this exam as a “test” think of it more as an “examination.”

Most agree that all cultures must better understand each other. That spirit of understanding is what will drive me here in this article. I’ll try to help shed some light on the varied aspects of as many cultures as I can possibly find to share with you.

The exam is not an assault upon New York. I’d love to post a Los Angeles version of this exam or a Redmond, Washington version or a Lincoln, Nebraska version if they exist! Let me know if you have any thoughts on the matter.

This exam originally appeared on The Howard Stern Radio Show and it was quite real and not a joke. I can’t stand Howard or his show, but I can’t let my personal feelings bother this issue.

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