DEA Seeks Ebonics Experts To Help With Cases


By Gary A. Johnson
Aug. 23, 2010

According to a report from the Associated Press out of Atlanta, federal agents are seeking to hire Ebonics translators to help interpret wiretapped conversations involving targets of undercover drug investigations. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently sent memos asking companies that provide translation services to help it find nine translators in the Southeast who are fluent in Ebonics. WTF? How many of you are old enough to remember the debates held inside and outside of the black community about the necessity of speaking “proper” English in America?

Ebonics translators. Is a precedent about to be set? How do you know if you are getting the best Ebonics translator? Are you required to be a certified Ebonics translator? If so, where do you get certified and what are the competency levels? Are there established “Ebonic” language schools? Is this a skill that will be added to resumes under language skills? How do you determine fluency levels? What’s a passing score on the test? I’m not aware of any standardized Ebonics placement exams. Help me people. Help me!

Let me see if I understand this situation. The system that educates our children does not recognize Ebonics. However, the system that incarcerates our children recognizes Ebonics. Hmmmm.

Ebonics is defined as “Black English” or a vernacular of English. The psychologist who coined the term defined it as a combination of English vocabulary with African language structure. According to the AP report, some DEA agents already help translate Ebonics, but this may be the first time DEA has ever sought to hire outside Ebonics experts as contractors.

This is a tight job market. What’s the starting salary of an Ebonics translator?

What do you think about the DEA effort to seek Ebonics translators to help solve drug cases?

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2 Responses to “DEA Seeks Ebonics Experts To Help With Cases”

  1. Where can I sign up to be an ebonics translator, this is pretty funny. Like you said I dont know how they will go about selecting these tranlators.

  2. Law enforcement has to adapt to the street slangs to keep up with drug trades. They do the same in latino and aisan communities. If a group makes up a language, varies it or combines it with another, then you suggest that no effort be made to understand it when used in drug business? Hmmmm…..

    Children in educational part of the system wont find much of street slangs in the curriculum and are advised/taught to pass on the drugs. “children” will make choices however that put them in the “other end” of the system. Perhaps a little broader thinking on what different agencies deal with in a community will help clear this up for you.

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