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Friday, December 6. 2013
Heard the President on the radio this afternoon, and I didn't really listen to what he was talking about but I did notice his speech pattern and intonations. Here's my question: How does a guy raised by late-middle-aged, middle-class white people in Hawaii acquire southern American black speech patterns and intonations?
It has to be an affectation, doesn't it? Just curious, because we all expect phoniness and schtick from politicians.
A reader wonders whether he is doing Richard Pryor.
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It probably is, but then again, I was raised by people who weren't born in America and I didn't inherit any accents. I can fake it though. LOL
Heh. I used to date a girl who was born and partially raised in Ireland, then the family moved to Georgia when she was in her middle-school years. She used to joke about her "Hiberno-Cracker" accent.
To me he always sounds like Richard Pryor doing his "Mudbone and Tudlum" routine.
I spent a weekend camping with some Dresdeners, and for the week following found myself inverting subject and verb in my sentences. I'd look to the accent of the people he spends most of his time with as the source of this affectation.
Took me 3 months of living abroad to come even remotely close to sharing an accent with the British, and it disappeared in no time.
I really doubt he picks it up from anyone he's spending time with, except to mimic their personalities somewhat and seem more 'genuine'. We know, after all, that he lied about his uncle and who knows what else.
Total fraud, but it's taken people 5 years to figure it out? Astounding.
He has probably just picked up the speech pattern common to blacks in Chicago, where he spent a lot of time.
As others have pointed out, Obama may simply have adopted some of the speech patterns he heard in his two decades in Chicago. My speech generally reflects my native NE, but TX patterns are there also.[Had I wanted to get rid of my NE accent, I could have done so.] When I go to the local Mexican market, my Spanish accent changes [more nasal than I normally speak Spanish], as it does if I watch too many YouTube videos from Venezuela, which has an accent distinctly different from Mexico.
The point that NewsJunkie is making is that Obama doesn't have a consistent speech pattern. He will sometimes speak in the standard US English intonations he learned from his mother and grandparents, and from living in Hawaii. At times he will do blackspeak, as Hillary has been known to do. You can call this pandering, or you can call it adapting to your audience, as I do at the Mexican market.
Which reminds me of some lines from Bob Dylan's I Shall Be Free, which comments on politicians pandering to various et-nik audiences.
Now, the man on the stand he wants my vote
He’s a-runnin’ for office on the ballot note
He’s out there preachin’ in front of the steeple
Tellin’ me he loves all kinds-a people
(He’s eatin’ bagels
He’s eatin’ pizza
He’s eatin’ chitlins
He’s eatin’ bullshit!)
My guess is that Obama goes into blackspeak on two occasions: 1) when speaking to black audiences, or 2) when he has hit a rough patch and wants people to feel sorry for him. Such as now. That Obama's serial lying is the cause of his hitting a rough patch is irrelevant.
I agree. Nearly all American blacks can speak some version of blackspeak, even if it not their usual dialect. So can many whites. That his accent moves is not a particular sign of hypocrisy. Many people do it quite automatically, as an attempt to put their audience at ease.
"He will sometimes speak in the standard US English intonations he learned from his mother and grandparents, and from living in Hawaii"
There is no trace in his speech of his growing up in Hawaii. If there were, every once in a while he'd sound like this (which he never does):
"How does a guy raised by late-middle-aged, middle-class white people in Hawaii acquire southern American black speech patterns and intonations?"
The same way Oprah Winfrey and Hillary Clinton do, by a steadfast dedication to exploiting Black Americans for their own political gain.
While blackspeak is an affectation for Hillary Clinton, it is not an affectation for Oprah Winfrey, who was born in Mississippi.
I do not consider this to be a "tactless" query. It is one of the many things the news media should have asked before Obama was elected the first time.
The news media, while not going overboard, did talk about Palin's speech patterns; so, why not inquire about the black guy's speech patterns?
Because Palin's accent isn't fashionable.
Blackspeak is only fashionable as a secondary accent.
I will caution again to leave off the accusation that it is fake. Anyone who works in language acquisition - for tourism, education, business, missions, military - observes that some people just immediately pick up the accent of whoever they are speaking with. I can barely construct more than baby-talk in Romanian, but some Romanians are stunned at how good my accent is. I have no idea why. It's just the music and the cadence of the speech and I can imitate it.
I made an effort to retain a New England accent when I went to college in Virginia. That was the snobbish and hypocritical side of me. My wife had a mild Tidewater accent after 4 years. It vanished within hours whenever she came home to Scituate.
"I will caution again to leave off the accusation that it is fake."
Fake or not, it is an indication of the types that he has chosen to associate with. I think Chris has nailed it - 22 years of Jeremiah Wright (and thank you for NOT calling him "Reverend," Chris!) and others. And that's what the news media should have picked up on.
Harry Reid has already plowed this fertile ground:
"Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologized Saturday following reports he had privately described then-candidate Barack Obama during the presidential campaign as a black candidate who could be successful thanks in part to his “light-skinned” appearance and speaking patterns "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."
Yes, his accent is totally fake, just like his "blackness." I suspect he learned it in college by trying to imitate black preachers. But he talked like a "haole" (Caucasian) growing up in Hawaii.
I heard him interviewed once here before he really became prominent and he made the mistake of dropping the fake accent just for a short time before he caught himself.