Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The DEA, Ebonics and Buckwheat--Whassup?

As Dave Barry used to say, “I’m not making this up.”

Seems like the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is looking for a few good translators. 2,100 to be exact. These folks will be employed to transcribe wiretaps.

This is all according to a short article in my local newspaper on Sunday which was contained on the “Backpage” under “News of the Weird” with the headline “Professional Training Required”.

The short piece listed some of the openings for DEA’s Atlanta office which include 144 Spanish experts, 12 Vietnamese and 9 each for Korean, Farsi and Ebonics. Jeesh, I’m surprised that someone like Glen Beck hasn’t gotten hold of this one. Ebonics?

OK, so I know that DEA isn’t necessarily interested in my language skills which consist solely of having to wade through 3 years of French in college in order to get 2 years worth of credit—although I have sold 2 cars over the years to French speaking buyers using the fractured phrase “voulez-vous acheter c’et voiture?” (I think I spelled that right).

I actually remember more of the 1 year of Latin I took at Madison Junior High School in Tampa way back in 1965. “Tempus fugit” anyone? (Actually, if anyone’s interested, I can still recite “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” in Latin at the drop of a hat and can still give a rousing rendering of “Quadiamus Igatur” in “basso profundo”--but I’ve never come across it in a Karaoke version).

And unfortunately, the DEA isn’t interested in the other language my wife and I have been working to translate into a useable communications tool. We discovered the “Rosetta Stone” of it a while back and have been using it for a while to discover the nuances of pronunciation and grammar of this unique, spellbinding language from our childhood.

Yep, I’m talking about Buckwheat. Or, pronounced in the vernacular, “Buhweet”.

Carolyn and I can actually carry on something resembling a conversation in Buckwheat with only occasional pauses to figure out the vowel sounds and hard consonants and we find this to be quite an endearing language. Buckwheat was the most loveable of the characters in the “Little Rascals” with his wide-eyed innocence and grin.

People have been speaking in “Buhweet” for more than a half century. Virtually every adult has at one time or another invoked Buckwheat by making an “OK” sign with thumb and index finger and saying “Otay”. That’s the most famous “Buckwheatism”.

So, we often speak to one another in Buckwheat in our silly conversations at home about such “weighty” topics as what to have for dinner or what to watch on TV and sometimes our e-mails incorporate Buckwheat.

But alas, there is no demand for the language by the DEA and consequently it’s not likely to be embraced in the world of literature or journalism anytime soon.

But, just visualize in your own mind if you saw a Shakespearian actor, on a stage in the costume of a Roman Senator saying:

“Fwens, Rohmas, caweemen; wenme ya eah, I comma bawwy Teedar, naudu pwaiz im.”

Or, perhaps what you may wish to do is to look your spouse in the eye and tell her (like I often say to Carolyn):

“I wubbu!”

That’s because she’s “tree tines a mady”

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