Ebonics and Mike Vick
As a Noo Yawk native and Giants fan living in Philly, I eagerly went online this morning to hear Mike Vick complain about the hit that broke his hand yesterday. I watched the ESPN video of his comments (which appears below), then read the story to see if anybody was telling him to man up and play. And I noticed that the pull quote corrected his grammar.
In the video, Vick clearly says, "I don't get the 15-yard flags like everybody else do." (It's below, at the 1:58 mark.) But the written story quotes him as saying, "Like everybody else DOES."
(Vick also says in the video, "Everybody seen the game," but this does not appear in the text story. And in another story, he's quoted as saying, "There's no reason for me to go into a big dissertation about why I'm not getting the calls"--so he's clearly got some vocabulary to work with.)
How someone speaks says a lot about that person. I enjoy Ebonics, of all kinds. I like that Vick's inflections on this classic Ebonicism strongly underscored his frustration. I like that when he says "in general," the phrase ends with a "W" sound. This style of speech reminds me of a lot of enjoyable experiences, people and places. I think Vick should have been quoted exactly as he said it. There are only a few reasons why the quote would have been changed, and ... ain't none of them good.
9/26/2011 12:24:10 am
Interesting comments, Jesse. I always struggle with whether to "clean up" bad grammar, etc. in quotes. And it's not usually an Ebonics thing in my case. There are a lot of white folks with really crappy grammar, too, lol. In my case, I'm often quoting pretty high-level execs and I don't want to look like I'm trying to make them look stupid (because then they'll never talk to me again, lol.) My solution: Paraphrase, no quote marks. Not sure why the writer didn't just go that route with Vick's quotes?
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Jesse Washington is a Senior Writer for ESPN's TheUndefeated.com