Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fo' Shizzle

I was thinking some more about that solicitation for Ebonics linguists that was in the news yesterday, and it occurred to me that DEA agents aren't actually too dense or culturally vanilla to understand spoken slang. Snoop Doggy Dogg-style talk is not exactly a secret code, no matter how incomprehensible it may seem to the straight citizen, especially one of middle class Caucasian origin. I mean, Chrysler used him in a commercial. How much more middle class and fuddy duddy can you get than Chrysler?

The real reason for that contract solicitation must be that the Justice Department wants a source of court-qualified authority when it comes time to tell a jury composed of the aforesaid old white folks what exactly the defendants were talking about on that wiretapped conversation.

Today, a DEA spokesman confirmed my suspicion in an interview with CNN:

But the agency is serious about needing nine people to translate conversations picked up on wiretaps during investigations, Special Agent Michael Sanders said Tuesday. A solicitation was sent to contractors as part of a request to companies to provide hundreds of translators in 114 languages.

"DEA's position is, it's a language form we have a need for," Sanders said. "I think it's a language form that DEA recognizes a need to have someone versed in to conduct investigations."

The translators, being hired in the agency's Southeast Region -- which includes Atlanta, Georgia; Washington; New Orleans, Louisiana; Miami, Florida; and the Caribbean -- would listen to wiretaps, translate what was said and be able to testify in court if necessary, he said.

Ah-ha! I rest my case.

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