Average, bland, plain, boring, and proper english fell out of my mouth every time I talked. It grew into me dashing in a little slang, threw in some philly made words and then add the dominate bland english, congratulations! You have made my voice. My communication tool. I was the white boy, “The inside-out oreo”. I enjoyed it. My friend Vaughn told me “You got the perfect flow of urban and ya whiteness.”
My voice and dialect has changed a tremendous amount for each interaction I have with different people. The interactions are teachers and I, parents and I, family and I, and friends and I. Some interactions with the way I talk has grown more than others like friends and I and parents and I are the two biggest ones that have expanded and grown. A good example of me saying to a friend when I saw him when I was little.
“Whats good bro?”
Then the conversation would go something like,
“Want to ask your parents to have a play date after school?”,
and then now it would be
“You wanna chill after school and grub, man?”
Then my conversations with parents started off as,
“Daddy (or mommy) what’s for dinner?”
and now it would be like
“Yo, what ya gonnna make tonight?”
The transition of our language is just natural, we all do it. We will not live our whole entire life speaking like we are 5 years old but the step into talking like a young adult may be different for all of us. Some people may stick with the complete proper english and talk like that. Some others like me, may make the transition into adding some slang and talking a little more “urban”.
I feel as if the case for me were the multiple transitions of my surroundings. When I was 7 years old I moved from Society Hill where everyone speaks with proper english to West Philadelphia where it starts to get more african american populated. The other big transition in my life was leaving a private school (The Philadelphia School) where everyone responded to proper english. From there I changed schools to a public school (Meredith) where the language completely changed.
There were a lot of things I learned from that school like that South Philly kids talk weird. Water was now “wooder”. I learned what “jawn” meant. “Ratchet” was now a word. Sauce and Gravy had two completely different meanings and “Crayons” was now “Crowns”.
Even the non South Philly kids also had a special way that they talked. “Yo” and “bro” were thrown into every single sentence. We did not eat anymore, we “grubbed”. Wearing nice basketball shoes was now cool and the recess sport was now kickball and not soccer.
At The Philadelphia School, it was only proper english. You never heard “Black English” in the school. It’s not like it was prohibited it was just the amount of african american students in my grade. There were two out of the 36 of us. Then, at Meredith you even heard “Black English” come out of some teachers mouths. Out of the 62 of us it was probably about around 60% african american and then 30% white. That is when it really started developing into my voice today. It was after the move but when I came to that school it picked up intensely.
I started there in sixth grade and that is the point where we turn into teenagers. It was a really big change for me and I had no clue what to expect from the school. That is when I was “The white boy.” The jokes were all in good fun so that was not a bad thing. As the year went on the way I talked was changing a little bit. I started using some of the slang words, hey turned into yo. He wasn’t my friend, he was my bro. We weren’t a group of friends hanging out, we were homies chilling.
From noticing what everyone has said to me about the way I talk, even things I do notice, I know that I am distinct. I am my self. I enjoy very much being who I am. I come from a proper english Jewish family, and I come from a proper english German family. I am different and it is amazing to know that. Philadelphia itself has made a huge impact on my life. This great, diverse city.
In James Baldwin’s essay; If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is? I have found a quote that ultimately describes why my language has changed and how it has changed. “People evolve a language in order to describe, and thus control their circumstances.” What this quote is saying that a language is evolved based on their circumstances meaning what is going on in their lives. My circumstances were living in a heavily white populated neighborhood and then moving to a greatly diverse neighborhood, those were my circumstances thus my language evolved.