I can have one dog or two dogS. Making the plural in English is not exactly rocket science. But there's a land far, far away where making a plural seems like a game some kid made up. A thief is a kaam; if there's more than one, then there are kaama. So, you just add -a, right? Well, no. An eye is nuungi, but eyes are not nuunga. They're kuungi. For some reason you change the first sound instead of adding a sound at the end. Then there are words that for some reason do both of the things we just saw. A side is a nundang. Sides are k-undang-a.
I am massively pleased to see that Larry Elder has retitled his book from last year for the paperback. The original title was Stupid Black Men: How To Play the Race Card and Lose. Now it's called What's Race Got to Do With It? Much, much better. Elder is a Los Angeles radio host who sometimes appears on lists of black conservatives (he's actually a libertarian). He's been around a while but never quite breaks out.
Since it's become known that I was (and am) a supporter of Barack Obama, as indicated in this magazine as well as elsewhere, it has been increasingly asked here and there just why I am so often included on lists of "black conservatives." One reason is that my think tank, the Manhattan Institute, is a free-market, and thus conservative, one. However, they are a bigger tent than is often known - I am not the only Democrat connected with them. Another reason is a sense that to have anything snippy to say about hiphop makes you conservative, apparently.
Julian Bond and Benjamin Jealous claim that my criticism of the modern NAACP is mistaken in my writing that discrimination today is "elusive." They present a list of assorted facts, such as that black people have been more likely to have subprime housing loans. However, neither this nor the other cases Bond and Jealous present are clear and indisputed cases of discrimination.
We know William Julius Wilson, star Harvard sociologist, best for his articulate presentation of the structural analysis of black poverty: low-skill manufacturing jobs moved away from city centers just as middle-class role models took off for the suburbs. Result: high concentration of poor blacks. "Segregation," that is - and you know what happens when you get a bunch of ... Well, at least that's one implication of the thesis as I see it. But never mind. Wilson is considered a hero for it, which gives a certain punch to the way his latest book is billed.
We know William Julius Wilson, star Harvard sociologist, best for his articulate presentation of the structural analysis of black poverty: low-skill manufacturing jobs moved away from city centers just as middle-class role models took off for the suburbs. Result: high concentration of poor blacks. “Segregation,” that is – and you know what happens when you get a bunch of ... Well, at least that’s one implication of the thesis as I see it. But never mind. Wilson is considered a hero for it, which gives a certain punch to the way his latest book is billed.
The Times reviewed my book on the history of the English language this weekend. It's about how the language I am writing in would be one a lot like German - with nouns coming in three genders and verbs hanging at the end of sentences and so on - if English had not been beaten down by Vikings learning as a second language starting in 787 A.D.
In my last post I mentioned Rapper Cam'ron's new song and video about how hard it can be to get a job when you have a record. It's an urgent problem, but too often when race issues are discussed, the word on the street--and on the op-ed page, and in the panel discussion--is that ex-cons just can't get gainful employment, period. It's not true. In fact, it's less true every year as programs designed to get ex-cons into jobs take root and thrive in city after city.
Today I learned that the New York Times will be reviewing my latest book, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English, on March 15. Happy am I. I should be grateful--the Times has reviewed three of my books before, but not since 2003. I could still be a contender ... ! The main message of "Bastard," as my wife and I call the latest in shorthand, is that a language is not just words but the way the words are put together--the grammar. In contrast to the rest of humanity listening only to words, a linguist listens to language used as grammar around the clock.
Traditionally, civic concern has not been one of rapper Cam'ron's front-and-center issues. Last time he made the news was a couple years back when he was telling 60 Minutes he wouldn't "snitch" on even a serial killer living next door to him ("I'd probably move"), much less risk record sales by joining in a search for the man who shot him during a carjacking in 2005. Hearing rap criticized, the fan sits ready to object "It's not all like that!" - well, Cam'ron's work has typically been the kind that is like that.