Newest strategy in drug war: DEA hiring speakers of #Ebonics to translate wiretaps and video into English. #africanamerican

(Guardian) The demand for large numbers of Spanish translators in America’s war on drugs will come as no surprise given the route cocaine takes to the US.

But an attempt to recruit people who speak what some controversially regard as a homegrown United States language has put the Drug Enforcement Administration in the unique position of seeking translators to understand what African Americans are saying to each other.

The administration is hiring nine speakers of Ebonics – a term that appeared in the mid-1970s to describe US black vernacular English – to translate wiretaps and video surveillance tapes to a standard that will allow government agents to “follow the money” and that will stand up in court.

Ebonics is described by some linguists as English incorporating the grammar of African languages, but as it also includes many words invented on the streets, it is dismissed by others as mere slang.

Nonetheless, the administration is confused enough to ask firms providing translation services to provide the nine Ebonics translators to cover an area from Washington DC to New Orleans and Miami and even the Caribbean.

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