Syntax, Semantics, and shit

This will be short(ish).

Now that we got that out of the way….

So yesterday I had this conversation:

  • Him: The BBQ is on July 4th at noon, is that right?
  • Me: Yes.
  • Him: My sister got your message that asked if she could bring paper plates to the BBQ on July 4th at noon. She is confused.
  • Me: Confused, HOW?!?
  • Him: Call her and explain what you need her to do.
  • Me: What about can she bring paper plates to the BBQ on July 4th at noon do you both not understand?
  • I could literally see the confusion ensue. Internal chaos took over the cerebral cortex. It was a battle against the brain cells and the words were winning. A beautiful mind… wasted on the lazy.

    Sighs and exasperation flooded my ear… sounds. Words got flewed out, but none that answered the question… syllables. But no signs of life… no syntax and not even a hint of semantics. We are the creators (more on that in a minute). Yet I find this to be an epidemic… the inability to formulate (one’s own) and understand (other’s) complete thoughts.

    I’m sure there are communication gaps present in every culture, but I’m particularly concerned with my own. I really really need us to focus on our use of language. It is, along with body language, a key component of communication. But when we are using telephones, text messages, and emails… I don’t get the luxury of seeing your confusion or scowl. So brothas and sistas we gotta do better. We are the architects of this shit!


    Quentin D. Atkinson of the University of Auckland and other scholars have pinpointed southwest Africa, Egypt and surrounding countries, as the origin of language. According to his research, there are more sounds in African languages, at approximately 100, than in other areas of the world. Sound being the root of all language, and as you track migration there are fewer and fewer sounds until one gets to the farthest location, New Zealand, with only 13 linguistic sounds. Other scholars point Psammetichus I, Pharoah of Egypt in the 26th dynasty, as the central figure in language creation. Similarly, Ancient Africa is the birthplace of modern written language, Egyptian hieroglyphs. Like mathematics and philosophy, Egypt is known as the place where all modern science began.

    This is our history: sounds and syllables, syntax, and semantics all swirling together to form a language. That Egyptian pendant your mom got you in the ’80s that spelled your name, that big ankh ring you wore in college when you got real Black and proud…

    …those hieroglyphs are the basic building blocks of modern language. Our style, art, creativity is all a form of communication… telling others how we feel, imagine, see ourselves and the future. We are so influenced by that, African-Americans have a unique vernacular with deep connection to Southern American states accents and style along with remnants of West African influence. Our current speech patterns, sounds, and word use are the modern artifacts of Egyptian sounds, syllables, syntax, snd semantics. So there is no excuse.

    We have become lazy. Everything is about the instantaneous. We only want to press buttons. You can order a movie, dinner, groceries, and a ride with the press of a button. You can talk to a therapist, a psychic, a doctor, a stylist to plan your ENTIRE wardrobe, or a life coach to plan your LIFE with the press of a button. We can get cars out of vending machines. It’s the Jetsons, except we still have to put on our own pants and drive a car on the street. And yes, you have to talk or write, process and understand to communicate. No one is going to do that for you. There is no Shipt for talking and listening.

    The BBQ is on the 4th of July at noon.

    That’s not hard.

    Let’s do better. And if you know a Black person who can’t read… each one teach one. Looks like I got two people to reach out to.

    Oh… don’t show up at my house, I made that shit up! And it wasn’t that short.

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