MSNBC’s expert John McWhorter, a Columbia University linguist, explains that a star witness for the prosecution in the George Zimmerman trial, Rachel Jeantel, was abused by defense attorneys who simply didn’t understand her dialect.
McWhorter explained: “It’s been a little scary. Sometimes it’s like she’s speaking Hungarian, and he’s speaking Cantonese. She’s been articulate, just in a different kind of English than mainstream English, she’s speaking Black English. Everything she says, where you can see the Twittersphere, or people I know thinking she’s making a grammatical mistake. If a Martian came down and the Martian happened to be in South-Central rather than in Grand Rapids, the Martian would have as hard a time figuring out how this dialect worked as any other. She said in the clip that ‘I had told you.’ Many people are thinking, ‘why is she using that?’ That’s Black English.”
So, does that mean U.S. courts should begin providing interpreters in cases where Black English speakers and people who speak garden variety English are in mixed company? Ain’t nobody got time for that.