Saturday, March 10, 2012

Text Messaging Styles & Black Slang In A Double Dutch Video Comment Thread

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post features selected comments from a YouTube comment thread about a video of African American school girls jumping Double Dutch. The post documents the use of text messaging language and of African American originated slang in selected comments from that video's viewer comment thread.

Disclaimer: I'm not a linguist. I'm an African American who is interested in the use of language. Comments about this topic from linguists and others are very welcome.


Double Dutch after school

Uploaded by Mdowdell98 on Sep 15, 2006

The Trenton [New Jersey] recreation department has an after school program with lots of activities around the city. The kids can show up at one place and if there is an activity and if there is an activity that they interested in another part of town transportation is provided to the activity and back. This is my editing of one of those activities.


(Editor's note: I added quotation marks to these comments. Other than that, these comments are as they are found in the video comment threads.

Warning: There are a few examples of profanity on the entire YouTube viewer comment thread. However, there are no examples of profanity in the comments that are presented in this post.

"yall need a betta rope man i can kill yall"

[Editor's note: A number of commenters used the phrase "kill yall" or "she killed yall". In the context of those comments, "to kill (someone) means to perform Double Dutch far better than someone else." "Yall" = "Y'all" = "You all".


["Dat"=that; "Da" = "the"]

i can kill all yall! and i wanna no who dat girl in da pink shirt iz so i can go against her 1 day

"y was da girl in da beginning lookin lik dat"

"Because She Saw You"

[Editor: This is a "rip" in the same spirit of African American tradition of The Dozens insult exchange.]

"Double Dutch isn't about messing up or getting it correct every time. It's about having fun :D Lol we do it at school all the time, it's halarious :3 XDD"

:3 XDD means "big smiles"

"yall sorry

my group could do better

ima make a video of my posse jumpin"

Editor: "Sorry" here means "lacking skill"; not good. "Posse" means "group"

"im da queen od d dutch"


"you go girls!! (buy heavier ropes) its wayyy easier!! when i started with light ropes it took me like a year to learn. then my mom bought me heavier ropes and i could do it so much better!!"

Editor: "You go" originated among African Americans but is now also widely used by other Americans. That phrase is used to congratulate and/or encourage what a person is saying or doing. "You go" may be a shortened form of "Go on and keep on doing what you are doing". Another still very common, earlier saying from which "You go" may have come is "Go on with your bad self". In the context of that saying "bad" means "very good".

"aww i remember wen i used 2 do dat...watchin dis make me want 2 go 2 da cornor store and buy a rope and play lol"

"they cant even double dutch they mess up too much"

"Wow/ Yall use telephone wires!!! Thats why u guys are messing up! If ur gunna go cheap use the thick cable wires like i seen ppl do jumpin in the street. If not, go out and buy a new rope!"

[Editor: "ppl" = "people"]

"ima boy and i can jump better dan them and do more drinks liike giirl in the piink was kiiliin u junts girl in white blue what da bloody hell were u doing and girl in yellow blue just pick up your feet and why the hell did yaw use dollar store rope im sure lanyard string would have probly been ten times better and yaw were alsi messin up they NEED TO TIE YAW shoez but yaw were raw

Editor: My sense is that few African Americans use the phrase "what the (or "da") bloody hell". It's possible that that phrase is more readily used among non-African Americans. I'm aware that "bloody" is used in this way in the UK, Canada, and Australia.

This is the first time that I've come across the spelling "yaw" for the word "y'all". The sentence "yaw were alsi messin up they NEED TO TIE YAW shoez but yaw were raw" probably means "Y'all were also messing up. They NEED TO TIE their shoes. But you were [still] good [in what you did.]

That commenter's use of double "i"'s (for instance, in the words "liike giirl in the piink was kiiliin") is probably a spelling style that he purposely adopted. I've not seen double it used that before in online text messaging. However, I've seen other unique or distinctive styles such as using random capitalization for words, and using the number "3" in place of an "e".

I get the impression that the commenter lives outside of the United States. I believe that he's creative, but I think he's trying too hard to be "down" with (or "up on") the use of American slang.

"i ca jump betta den allo them"

"@dadauito yeah, well at least we know you can't spell better!!"


i LOVE black people!! i really mean that!


kewel i guess

[Editor: I think that it's highly unlikely that a Black person would write "I love Black people" on a viewer comment thread for this type of video. Also, I believe that the spelling "kewel" ("cool") isn't one that most Black people use.

My double dutch team is called the double dutch diva's i love me some double dutch!!!

Editor: "I love me some ___" is a very commonly used phrase among African Americans.


"i think its great that they're having fun while smiling -(-_-)- "

Editor: It's not uncommon to see commenters adding pictures drawn by using punctuation marks to their comments.

The only think that this comment thread was low on (in comparison with other online comments from children that and teens I have read is the use of internet abbreviations such as "omg" (Oh my God), "lol" (laugh out loud), and "lmao" (laugh my ass off").

"good job but if u keep ur feet closer together u wil do much better"

In contrast to other posts that I have published in this blog on the use of vernacular language in YouTube video comment threads*, I believe that the examples in that featured thread reflect the common usage of text messaging language that American (USA) school children/teens across racial & ethnic lines(and possibly also school children and teens outside of the USA) have adopted. That writing style is heavily influenced by text messaging customs that value speed above anything else. In text messaging, punctuation and capitalization have a much lower value than speed. Therefore, they are usually either seldom used or their use is inconsistent. The lack or inconsistent use of punctuation and capitalization often results in typos and run-on sentences. This causes comprehension difficulties, particularly with regard to the use of words such as "we're", "where", and "were", and the use of words such as "to", "two", and "too".

Given the homogenization of mainstream American (USA)culture, the wide use of text messaging writing styles and the relatively widespread familiarity with certain African American slang words & phrases, I'm unwilling to guess the race of the commenters in this featured video's comment thread. Complicating any determination of the commenters' race based on the subject matter of the featured video is the global reach of the sport of Double Dutch. Prior to the 1970s, Double Dutch jump rope was a recreational activity that was almost exclusively associated with African American girls**. However, since that date, other races and ethnicities throughout the world have become more acquainted with the recreational activity and/or the sport of Double Dutch jumping. Furthermore, given the global reach of the internet, it's possible that a number of the commenters to this thread live outside the United States. One commenter indicated that she or he was from the Netherlands. The only thing that I'm willing to state with a strong degree of certainty is that most of the commenters on this featured thread are females.

I also believe that two other things might be operating with regards to these comments:

1. a copy cat effect
There are alot of comments on that viewer comment thread that use the "da" for "the" and "dat" for "that". In addition, several commenters use the phrase "go girls" or "you go girls". This is a relatively well know vernacular phrase that is of African American origin.

I believe it's likely that a number of these commenters patterned their comments after earlier comments. I don't think that "da" and "dat" are used all that often among African Americans. I wonder if the commenters who used those words thought that they were imitating hip-hop languaging or other African American vernacular.

In addition to "da" and "dat", I believe other copy cat usages in those comments are "go girls", "she killed it", and "yall".

2. Showing off
Similar to my theory about "puttin on the Black" that I presented in previous posts on this pancocojams blog, I believe that it's likely that a number of these commenters on this video's viewer comment thread are trying to show off their command of text message writing by using that style in a heavier than usual fashion in their comments. Doing so is probably considered "hip" or "cool" (or whatever slang word is "in" now that means the same thing as those two words). And I think it's likely that some of the commenters on the featured video's viewer comment thread are attempting to imitate contemporary American, particularly contemporary African American, vernacular. In my opinions a number of those attempts are quite inauthentic, but, due to the copy cat effect, examples like "da" for "the" and "dat" for "that" could eventually be codified and incorrectly considered the way most contemporary African American really talk & write in our everyday interactions.

*"Puttin on the Black" is a term that I coined for the conscious, sometimes prideful and usually fun use of Black vernacular in online blogs and YouTube viewer comment threads that might be racially integrated. Click for for Part I of a three part series that I wrote on "Puttin On The Black." That post includes links to the other two parts of that "Puttin On The Black" series.

**Click for information about the history of Double Dutch jump rope.

My thanks to the video performers, the video uploaders, and the featured commenters.

Thank you for visiting this page.

Viewer comments are welcome

No comments:

Post a Comment