3 ways to speak English | Jamila Lyiscott

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Jamila Lyiscott is a “tri-tongued orator,” and this powerful spoken-word essay celebrates — and challenges — the three distinct flavors of English she speaks with her friends, in the classroom and with her parents. As she explores the complicated history and present-day identity that each language represents, she unpacks what it means to be “articulate.”

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33 thoughts on “3 ways to speak English | Jamila Lyiscott

  1. drew bell says:

    'Tri-tongued'. I'm so sorry to report even if the Queen allows you the right to give yourself that moniker ?, not one of those in your supposed fluency is English, may I suggest a career in obesely charming-Ah gospel ? You're no further away than 2 stout sheets and self honesty-Ah …. however not because of the uninformed reason you gave 'Even articulate Americans sound foolish to the British' … due to that being untrue, we educated English have no issue with how articulated Americans sound. What falsehood led you to that conclusion ?
    We may have a problem with a tiny subset of words the American college educated SPELL wrongly, i.e 'realize' instead of our 'realise' … because they can as far as we can tell.

  2. drew bell says:

    Holy Deity Batman ! this is just getting worse, I've (wistfully on my part been proved right within a paragraph) .
    RAP … (the culture, *cringe*facts means rhyming words, no matter how misogynistic, murderous, drug orientated, criminal or wealth vulgar they are) …. as much as I love the medium and the wordplay ? ….. it's a TERRIBLE way to actually convey even the most simplistic and insipid of meaning. Just because you can make the last sentence's ending sound like the previous one is not an accolade. It's an entertaining but low skilled music form that portrays nothing but bitches, death, crime and grammatical Seppuku. You've now just pigeon holed yourself as the archetypal 'Hood' orator you self identified as in the first -Ah … sentient-Ah … breath-Ah … Without -Ah … My disdain-Ah, I have respect for your intrinsic intelligence, regardless of how improperly employed.

    What a shame when you COULD use your obvious intelligence to break away from those redundant stereotypes … instead you weaponise stagnant sweeping statements and cliche to embolden them. This is everything wrong with black educational achievement right across America, and indeed England (to a lesser extent).

    Spending your time spewing vitriolic black rhetoric and allocating effort to belt out vapid expressions, instead of simply educating yourself to your full potential is possibly why the vast majority of your peers require a substantially lower entry score pass to even access University.

    Couldn't be that though could it ?? … has to be the evil white man/patriarchy/insert buzzphrase here etc etc etc ??

  3. drew bell says:

    Typical but not ubiquitous token black attempt to sound intelligent (the omnipresent method is to mumble and destroy a sentence of grammar at will, as long as the last word is clear and enunciated. For example, 'Ayo ah wuz wit dis mu'phuka tryna teeeee yaaaaaal sum'n EX-PLIC-IT-ALL-Y)… do you not feel comfortable with cerebral, polite discourse unless you try to make it rhyme whilst gesturing with your hands like you're attempting to bring another woman to climax ?? … Just speak slowly, without the cheap uneducated rhyming, …and you'll come across more lucidly, and you'll reach a wider audience. That's a fact, and I honestly want you to do well. I just think you're selling yourself short with this incessant hark towards 'Sisterhood', most switch off at that point even if they don't admit it to you. It's of course a positive you indentify with your culture …. but if you don't acknowledge you have an existence outside of it ??? you'll never truly be free, and it'll be your own that hold you back.

  4. drew bell says:

    2 sentences in and my Ba Hons Degree in English (and opinion MASSIVELY skewed by the general common sense everybody has) … decided you are not articulate and I'm going to guesstimate you're going to attempt and explain away the terrible broken English hip hop culture and large areas of the black community use (not all) … let's see how right or wrong I am in a bit.

  5. Tania Diaz says:

    Today, a baffled lady observed the shell where my soul dwells

    And announced that I’m “articulate”

    Which means that when it comes to annunciation and diction

    I don’t even think of it

    ‘Cause I’m “articulate”

    So when my professor asks a question

    And my answer is tainted with a connotation of urbanized suggestion

    There’s no misdirected intention

    Pay attention

    ‘Cause I’m “articulate”

    So when my father asks, “Wha’ kinda ting is dis?”

    My “articulate” answer never goes amiss

    I say “father, this is the impending problem at hand”

    And when I’m on the block I switch it up just because I can

    So when my boy says, “What’s good with you son?”

    I just say, “I jus’ fall out wit dem people but I done!”

    And sometimes in class

    I might pause the intellectual sounding flow to ask

    “Yo! Why dese books neva be about my peoples”

    Yes, I have decided to treat all three of my languages as equals

    Because I’m “articulate”

    But who controls articulation?

    Because the English language is a multifaceted oration

    Subject to indefinite transformation

    Now you may think that it is ignorant to speak broken English

    But I’m here to tell you that even “articulate” Americans sound foolish to the British

    So when my Professor comes on the block and says, “Hello”

    I stop him and say “Noooo …

    You’re being inarticulate … the proper way is to say ‘what’s good’”

    Now you may think that’s too hood, that’s not cool

    But I’m here to tell you that even our language has rules

    So when Mommy mocks me and says “ya’ll-be-madd-going-to-the-store”

    I say “Mommy, no, that sentence is not following the law

    Never does the word “madd” go before a present participle

    That’s simply the principle of this English”

    If I had the vocal capacity I would sing this from every mountaintop,

    From every suburbia, and every hood

    ‘Cause the only God of language is the one recorded in the Genesis

    Of this world saying “it is good”

    So I may not always come before you with excellency of speech

    But do not judge me by my language and assume

    That I’m too ignorant to teach

    ‘Cause I speak three tongues

    One for each:

    Home, school and friends

    I’m a tri-lingual orator

    Sometimes I’m consistent with my language now

    Then switch it up so I don’t bore later

    Sometimes I fight back two tongues

    While I use the other one in the classroom

    And when I mistakenly mix them up

    I feel crazy like … I’m cooking in the bathroom

    I know that I had to borrow your language because mines was stolen

    But you can’t expect me to speak your history wholly while mines is broken

    These words are spoken

    By someone who is simply fed up with the Eurocentric ideals of this season

    And the reason I speak a composite version of your language

    Is because mines was raped away along with my history

    I speak broken English so the profusing gashes can remind us

    That our current state is not a mystery

    I’m so tired of the negative images that are driving my people mad

    So unless you’ve seen it rob a bank stop calling my hair bad

    I’m so sick of this nonsensical racial disparity

    So don’t call it good unless your hair is known for donating to charity

    As much as has been raped away from our people

    How can you expect me to treat their imprint on your language

    As anything less than equal

    Let there be no confusion

    Let there be no hesitation

    This is not a promotion of ignorance

    This is a linguistic celebration

    That’s why I put “tri-lingual” on my last job application

    I can help to diversify your consumer market is all I wanted them to know

    And when they call me for the interview I’ll be more than happy to show that

    I can say:

    “What’s good”


    And of course …“Hello”

    Because I’m “articulate”

    Thank you.

  6. Diego Salamander says:

    Ella habla así o intenta rapear? No lo comprendo, de hecho, pienso que se escucha muy desagradable.

  7. Looks Up says:

    I only speak one way regardless of who I'm speaking to…. in other words I always keep it real, I just be 'me'… she's fake and "eurocentric" racist 🤮

  8. Diego Ferreira says:

    From this moment, I fell happy with my broke English. I am anarticule. But I know that even articulate Americans sounds foolish to the British.

  9. HeartedAngel27 says:

    Seriously I love this spoken word! I love the fire inside her!!! Yes, girl please go!!! Please reach those ignorant souls!!!

  10. Seph says:

    Everyone in the comments tryin to sound all intellectual and I'm just here cause of school

  11. Jennifer Shin says:

    i am obsessed. i just discovered this and just played it over and over on repeat. this is brilliant. this is a masterclass

  12. zachary burdette says:

    English is a language spoken all over the world. There are thousands of variations. You can't expect people to understand every variation. And there's nothing wrong with that.

  13. Chic Dame says:

    I speak 3 tongues

    lol when I mistakenly mix them up I feel crazy😄😄😄

    I can help to diversify your business…. Hello

  14. James Coffee says:

    when the judging thought begins, put it away………….try that………..once it is placed away from your focus….then you are truly clear minded
    it will come back…………but that's ok, just do it again………..

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