"I know what you're thinking, 'cause right now I'm thinking the same thing. Actually, I've been thinking it ever since I got here: Why oh why didn't I take the BLUE pill? "

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Most Aggressively Inarticulate Generation

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This is great.

HT to Joe Carter at First Thoughts

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26 comments:

Rodrigo said...

Excellent. This same poet has a great one called "The the impotence of proofreading." It's a little crass at times, but it really gets the point across.

David L Alexander said...

The guy's name is Tayor Mali, a "slam poet" from New York City. I had the YouTube of his appearance doing this one up last year. Aside from a very few expletives, his is an impressive body of work. This is probably the best. Definitely my favorite.

taylormali.com

John Hetman said...

Very good video. I sent it on to my daughter who is in graduate school.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

this guy is awesome, and for stuff like that I'll put up with a few expletives.

Amy said...

This makes me happy. I hate the abuse through which our generation puts the English language. It seems that quite a few people will correct others' language use and then turn around and misuse the language themselves. I'm sure I do it all the time. Such a waste of grade school English.

Anonymous said...

Grammar Nazi. The beauty of poetry lies in it's ability to express our world. It's not only "proper" English that is able to do that. On the contrary I think that only the most free (even if degenerated) use of language can truly transport creativity.

Dying

at first
I couldn't believe it
@ 1st

Matt said...

I agree that not only "proper" English shows creativity: however, in this day and age where slang has become the overwhelming norm it is quite refreshing to hear such poetry speaking for a higher intelligence to the creative

Anonymous said...

Through the constraints of proper English, creativity is born. It's no paradox.

Anonymous said...

Taylor Mali is my hero.

Chas Hoppe said...

Proper usage of language has long been used as a form of cultural imperialism. Take the literacy tests that were used to prevent African Americans from registering to vote--even though they had the right--for most of the 20th century. Demanding someone to speak in the method that you deem proper is a means of cultural oppression. If you understand what someone said to you, it doesn't matter how they said it. Get off the power trip.

Further, people who assumed that the decay of language is a new thing are sorely mistaken. I challenge anyone who assumes so to go try reading Old, or even Middle, English. Language changes, period. What's even more mind-blowing is that the people who perpetuate this myth of decaying language--the Baby Boomers--are the worst culprits. I have been watching quite a bit of documentary footage of youth from the 60s, and the amount of times phrases like "ya dig?" show up is frustrating, but it doesn't mean that what they're saying is unintelligent, or unassertive.

What's even more disturbing about attacking people who use language in their own way is that slang and colloquialisms vary tremendously from group to group, and are therefore a means of group identification. To attempt to rid someone of their communicative techniques is (in part) to rid them of the their group identity.

A slam poet should know better.

mills said...

i might suggest as a response, however, that "allowing people their own language," perhaps in the extreme, may also relegate them to lower-paying jobs. seems like another expression of cultural imperialism on its own.

Anonymous said...

the literacy tests were much worse than that! einstein would've had trouble with them, especially if he was noticably black on voting day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pi7bpysGBYM

speaking with belief and conviction is contrary to the 'believe less, think more' and ... e-prime like areas i've been trying to live by lately. i demand more arbitrary, inflexible grandstanding in my language! who cares if someone talks as if they believe something more deeply than you, it could still be something stupid or evil, and their conviction would just makes them more difficult to reason with.

Anonymous said...

At least when people speak with conviction you know where they stand. Also, the more serious you want to be taken in formal situations, the better to speak or write with language that reflects your intentions.

This critique goes back at least to William Strunk's book, "Elements of Style." (1918). George Orwell also wrote extensively on language designed to hide intentions and convictions.

The message is more entertaining when delivered by this poet but strunk mentions other phrases that perform the same function of revealing uncertainty or masking convictions. These appear more often in print than spoken word but serve a similar function, such as "sort of" and "kind of." Well, is it or isn't it?

The passive voice is similarly non-committal as well as stating things in negative form.

See rules 11 and 12.

http://www.bartleby.com/141/strunk5.html

Anonymous said...

It's like THIS...........

"Basically" is another one of these useless words that, like "totally," "kind of" and "sort of" is more often than not the mark of inefficient, non-committal writing and speaking. "This is basically like," "this is sort of like," "this is totally like." Drop the damn noodling and just put it bluntly for once: "It's like THIS." That's what you mean, anyway, right? Well, just say it and let people agree or disagree, "you know?" ;)

Anonymous said...

personally, I think this guy seems kinda like a jerk. Or should I say, this guy is a jerk. People now dont want to sound so pretentious, they don't want to make themselves sound better than you. YOu can complain that we're not commiting to what we're saying, but we are, we just say it different? Oh no, he english language is falling apart!! And its all because of us akward teenagers messing everything up!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the Strunk. It appears "non-committal" is the style I learned to write, and I suspect its also the reason it takes me so long.

Anonymous said...

English is an ever evolving language, with every generation the syntax and pragmatics of our language changes. It may be true that today the language is changing faster than ever before, but so is everything else in society, with computers and the internet making vast changes in the way young people communicate, we have also had to adapt to that new means of communication. It is only inevitable and natural for that language to manifest itself in spoken language. This man seems like a broken record, for this argument has been waged against young people for several generations.I am only 19 years old, do i sound like i have no conviction? I believe what this man is saying qualifies as stereotyping.

Anonymous said...

I could not agree more with the post on March 9. I can understand where the speaker is coming from, but he clearly has had bad experiences with youth. The language that young people are speaking today is just another form of communication that has been around for years. Of course different socio-economic groups will have different slang or "cool" ways to talk. For example, hippies in the sixties would talk differently to school students in the sixties. Therefore it is not a youth characteristic. He has merely pointed out one aspect of today's youth and abused it. I am 18 years old.

Mad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Real quick, to the people who are attacking Mali's critique, and equating it with literacy tests of African americans, perhaps you should take a reading comprehension class. I don't know, like sorta... something that will totally help you understand what he was saying, you know?

One poster had it spot on: there is a time and place for passive voice. That time is not 24/7, that place is not everywhere. So shut the **** up kindly about his professed "elitism" of language. In essence, all slam poets do that. If it's not your cup of tea, then don't drink it.

Also, I'm wondering if any of you might have noticed the correlation between the rise in texting and this viral passivity in our language. Maybe that would most definitely, possibly point you in the right direction to understanding Mali's position, hopefully.

Anonymous said...

You know, it's all good, man.

John said...

Chas said: To attempt to rid someone of their communicative techniques is (in part) to rid them of the their group identity.

First of all, the attempt isn't to rid them of communication, it is to correct and improve their communication. I have flaws and faults. My identity lies with my family, coworkers, friends, church, and countrymen. If you correct my flaws, my identity doesn't change. I haven't based my identity on others who share my flaws. Art is communication. Communication connects us as humans. Poor communication separates us and allows people or groups to slip through the cracks. To enforce a concise, codified standard of communication doesn't hinder art but rather frees it to touch a larger segment of people and bring them together. Yes, poor communication can be found through the generations, as can venereal disease. That doesn't mean that we should embrace it or not fight to eradicate it. The struggle against poor communication is the struggle against social entropy. Certainly language morphs and grows. It adapts to the needs of generations as a roadway adapts to the methods and volume of our conveyances. Not by being allowed to degenerate into potholes and weeds, but by growth, strengthening, and innovation provided by those who study and dedicate themselves to the task of maintaining it. To deny the poor or less educated access to a codified form of communication is to deny them access to a means of improving themselves. Though they may communicate well enough amongst themselves, you deny them communiation and communion with the rest of society. It denies them options. It is a means of keeping them down, not raising them up.

Jes said...

This idea about protecting creativity; it's not creativity if one doesn't know what they're talking about. Or if one is simply speaking that way out of habit, and is not really trying to express anything at all. The use of "like" and "ya know" is not creative, nor does it lend anything useful to us as people.

I loved this.

Anonymous said...

I liked this poem, but in naming the possible causes of this "problem" he hits the nail on the head a little too firmly when he says "or do we like have nothing to say?" There is no objective truth, there is no objective reality, there is no reason to be certain of any claim you make or any opinion you express. Your certainty only reveals your own inability to incorporate, into yourself, a holistic perspective on existence, YA KNOW?
-Kyle Britto

Anonymous said...

My dentist's receptionist 'phoned me the other day. She has this curse. I really couldn't tell is she were asking questions or making statements.

OK, it was not the best 'phone connection, but at the end, I was driven to the point of frustration where I told her what I thought of her impediment. Perhaps I'll forward this to her.

Nicholas said...

I'm late to this discussion but frankly it seems to me a lot of the poster's above me missed the point... Mali is not slamming people for impropper English. He is slamming people for not being more bold and forceful in expressing themselves. This is about conviction, not grammar. The 'likes' and 'ya knows?' and "invisible question marks" are detrimental to conviction, not grammar.

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