Hound Dog was copied from Big Mana Thornton, but the song was written for her by Lieber and Stoller, two Jewish guys from LA.

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I've already been told that the standard Philadelphia slang term "ah-ight" for "all right" is somehow not something I'm allowed to say despite it being standard Phila slang for about a billion years because reasons. AYKFM?

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thnx for this mcwhorter. i've long loved talking, thinking abt language but found that others arent fascinated by it +have great deal of trouble talking abt something their using -or even realizing their using it in extreme cases. many ppl become combative if questioned abt their speech/language.

when i was abt 5 i hid in the coats of a store bcoz my head felt like it would burst or something +i couldn't figure out what i'd done wrong. i just kept thinking: why does my head hurt? what did i do? my head hurts.... finally i said: oh its a headache! i realized a compound word. thats what they were talking abt: a headache. i had a headache. i was rather excited to have realized this compound word. but i've not met anyone who gets this worked up w the language of a cranial neuralgia at the age of 5. +i'll tell you cranial neuralgias arent fun but nothing much has changed.

the point is ppl get uncomfortable when you ask them abt their pronounciation or particular syntax. ppl feel they are being assessed under glass. the topic of language use in general is a mine field bcoz ppl take it so very personal. i hadn't realized that pronouncing: hypnotize as :hypMotize is common until i asked my latin prof who also teaches greek. apparently its common for english speakers to replace to pn w a pM in borrowed greek works except for pneumonia. we're able to pn at the beinging of a word at any age it seems. so i can laugh at myself for my crazy pronounciation but its not usually the case. when i ask ppl abt saying; heighTH they get real nervous- often very offended. ppl don't think abt language until you ask then you're asking abt them, not their language.

i think unless we have a natural(yikes) fascination or have been schooled in language when the topic comes up many are offended especially if the question is abt their direct speech, then what they see as their familys speech, out to their groups speech -+on out to whatever groups included in their ethical development. discussing language is beyond discussing taste +discussing taste is a.... read: pierre bourdieus: distinction: a social critique on the judegement of taste. for ppl who like language i liked george lakoff: women, fire, +dangerous things: what categories reveal abt the mind.

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Are there really people who are genuinely upset about this? I have a hard time believing that. It’s seems like it would be a sliver so small that one solid “man, get the fuck outta here” would blow them all over in a heap.

I think we can safely ignore this level of assholery. All the grown ups understand that there will always be a certain tiny minority of douchebags that want to poke holes in every bright balloon. I think we’re safe in completely ignoring them, because the vast majority of people are oblivious to this kind of controversy, especially the kids. Truly, progress happens one funeral at a time.

Language struts on with its gangsta lean, picking up lint and hair and schmutz as it goes, inexorably. There’s nothing anyone can do to stop it, or even slow it’s roll. Any upset one feels about it is evidence that the person has no understanding of what culture even is, or how it always and ever works.

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further correction of the comment below: instead of "Dowling",

John Dowland, (composer) (1563 – buried 20 February 1626).

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I'm pleased you wrote about this. Hmmm, "ARE WHITE PEOPLE USING BLACK ENGLISH WORDS BEING LIKE ELVIS STEALING ROCK AND ROLL? People think so, but they should consider the larger picture."

indeed. They ought to! LMFAO!!!!!!!!! (If I'm "allowed" to put it so).

In London there's a popular stage production--interrupted by the pandemic---how "Shakespearean", that! in and of itself!-- but recently resumed. How about this: "Juliet", "Shakespeare", what a rube! Little did he "know" that the Capulet family (of Verona!) were Black folks. Oh, yeah, baby! What? You didn't know that? Well, I guess you've never seen or heard of

"& Juliet" (), where Juliet is portrayed by the 26 year-old Black actress, Miriam-Teak Lee (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miriam-Teak_Lee (https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse2.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.ve2mtSkbkCDR1vtkxmUNDgAAAA%26pid%3DApi&f=1) ). She received an "Olivier" award for her portrayal. You didn't hear anything of the uproar concerning a Black woman of 26 portraying a White 15 year-old woman of 16th-century Verona? Oh, wait! .... there wasn't any uproar. Apparently, people can now take such stuff in their stride. There's more to this--from the cultural appropriation point-of-view: you don't suppose this stage show has music composed by John Dowling, do you? Fuggetabouddit! It has

"It's My Life" (Jon Bon Jovi)

"I Kissed a Girl" and "Roar" (Katy Perry)

"Oops!... I Did It Again" (Britney Spears)

"Fuckin 'Perfect'" ( Alecia Beth Moore a.k.a."Pink")

Nothing from the 1950s, let alone the 1550s.

But, hey, WTF?! It's "only" "Shakespeare".

Want more? No problem. How about Jodie Turner-Smith (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jodie_Turner-Smith) as Anne Boleyn (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Boleyn_(TV_series))? You did know that Henry the Eighth's second wife and the Marchioness of Pembroke was actually a Black woman, right? That's as plain as day--I mean "night"--from the period painting of her (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f2/Anne_boleyn.jpg/330px-Anne_boleyn.jpg)

No matter. Once again, nobody really cares--not even a credentialed historian (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Jones_(writer)), it's only "Shakespeare" who, as we all understand now, must needs be routinely up-dated to remain "relevant" to the "Times". LOL!

Here (in the readers' comments to an article in The Guardian *((London)) 20 May, 2016 (https://www.theguardian.com/media/mind-your-language/2016/may/20/rejecting-the-cult-of-bardolatry-does-not-make-you-a-philistine#comment-74736404)), however, is the best retort I've ever seen to such a view:


22 May 2016 1:51

"My point is that the real problem is that Shakespeare is appropriated for various ends - whether that is status, nationalism, etc. The cringe-worthy speeches and ceremonies on Shakespeare's birthday; the false notion that Shakespeare's views were identical with the interests of the state; the mobilization of Shakespeare as an implicit defense of the class structure, when, in reality, he continually undermines class assumptions, etc. All of that is execrable and demands a * cultural * critique." ... (https://www.theguardian.com/media/mind-your-language/2016/may/20/rejecting-the-cult-of-bardolatry-does-not-make-you-a-philistine#comment-74736404)

A classic case of the "Pot" telling the "Kettle" that it ought to get the hell out of the kitchen--and stay there.

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I had no idea those slang words were "black English." I thought they were just kid English that seems to refresh itself every few years. For me it was rad and gag me, etc. I just thought "cap" and the like were the younger generations doing what they do. Geez, as a white woman, I face a minefield just joking around with my daughter (fun to embarrass the kids by using their language in public). How is one to know unless this is your field of study?

You've hit something here that I've often asked...How can we embrace another culture in our melting pot, (which is what cures macro racism, right?) without committing appropriation? If a black hip hop artist releases an album, my assumption is he or she would like to make the maximum amount of money on that album. With whites still in the majority, thry should be a target audience to maximize sales.

The white kids buy the album (download the song) and it's a huge success, and they adopt some of the language. You can't have it both ways. If we don't buy the album (if it's any good), we must be racist if the black artist isn't the beneficiary of equity. But if we do buy the album, adopt the dance moves or the language, we are guilty of appropriation.

Which leads me back to the place I feel right now...the place where a middle aged white woman who never yielded any power over anyone else's life except my offspring, feels as though I'm damned if I do and damned ifdon't.

I have hope, though. I went to my little East Texas country town's festival last night. There I saw packs of teens mixed with all colors, all being completely annoying together as teens in a pack tend to be. They were speaking the young person's slang and having a great time...together.

I say appropriate away, kids. This generation was doing so well, I thought, with accepting each other, ignoring (not being blind to) their skin color. You know what helped get us there? Adapting to one another...meeting in the middle between my culture and your culture...appropriation.

Thank you again for a great piece.

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One result of actually implementing this nonsense would be the need to educate white people about which words and phrases they mustn't use. Would this become a new part of the

"language arts" curriculum in schools?

A related problem surfaced many years ago (maybe 20?), when an airline hostess got in big trouble by saying "eenie, meenie, miney, moe". She was a young person and had never heard the rhyme in its original form. I was decades older than she and had never heard it either. But the brouhaha that ensued showed the need to educate people about language that had long since passed from usage, thus ensuring that it never be forgotten, and keeping division alive.

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"But overall, who among us wishes white people had never taken up ragtime, jazz, rhythm and blues, or rock and roll? I assume there are some who could really wish there had never been Benny Goodman, Buddy Holly, the Rolling Stones, or Eminem and I mean that. But this would be a radical proposition held ever by only a sliver."

God let's hope so. Never mind that they all turned white attention to black music. Sure they benefited from the exchange, but so did the older black musicians whose music was thus brought to the attention of white America. Win win people.

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"Perhaps I can be of assistance. I speak fluent Jive."

- Mrs. Cleaver

We're just trying to be helpful.

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Thanks for bringing some sense to this discussion. The idea that any aspect of culture is static and “belongs” only to a certain group of people is absurd.

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I had no idea that many of these terms were african american in origin. I think I've been hearing bruh from cuban americans who hail from the miami area from maybe 25 years ago? It's really interesting. Black culture is always the most creative and stylish and of course it affects the slang that people use.

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As someone who did not grow up in the US, I'm curious, what slang terms are credited to white Americans?

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people are naturally syncretic, end of story. It is what makes the human world, irrespective of its origins so rich. Cultures are like jazz musicians, they riff on influences and it goes in every direction making something far more complex and beautiful than its beginnings. Trying to force a tribal purity on the human species has never worked and will never work. The last people to try that were the Germans. It didn't end well. Many of our social and cultural conflicts from from tribalism of one sort or another. Patriarchy, that terribly inefficient term, is merely one form of tribalism. Groups form, they attempt to gain control over certain aspects of culture, often they succeed. It is a pain in the ass but misidentifying the problem is a serious mistake. Thinking that it is about men or white people (or any group) rather than being rooted in the natural human tendency to form tribes in which people find self identity and a place to belong which depend in part through identifying the "other," the tribes outside which by their existence define the one in which we reside. Separately from this, I have always found the idea of cultural appropriation to be fallacious at its root. They "stole our ceremonies." They "stole our language." Well, not really. If someone steals my money, I no longer have it. In the context of this article, nothing was stolen. The original "owners" as it were, still possess the language. I think that James Baldwin's piece on Why I Stopped Hating Shakespeare is a good read in the current circumstances.

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John, loved the Billy and Me podcast. I studied Latin and the ME thing has always been a problem. Now I know why. And I'll stop bugging my kids (who are in their forties).

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No word belongs exclusively to one population. I am fine with not using the "n" word in polite company, because apparently some people have become offended by it, even though it seems to be an arbitrary rule someone came up with in the last 15 years. However, I admit that I had an instinctual gut reaction to an article written by a black woman who declared that whites may not ever use the "n" word because "it isn't your word". Bollocks. Words are not property, they are common or uncommon expressions intended to convey information or direction or intentions or feelings or inspirations or thoughts, and anyone with the physical apparatus to use them is as free to speak them as they are to think any thought, subject to appropriate cultural rules about when and where to use them. Nobody can own a word. It's as dumb an idea as the view that someone can own a thought.

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