clarence thomas' dialect

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Mon Feb 25 22:00:37 UTC 2008

In a message dated 2/25/08 4:13:24 PM, hwgray at GMAIL.COM writes:

> That claim is unreal, and I ain't going for it. Thomas speaks
> standardly far better than, i.e., Jesse Jackson or Saint Louis's own
> Cedric the Entertainer, who have no trouble opening their mouths.
Well, but the claim was not that Thomas could not speak standard English, but
rather that "Thomas [himself] has chalked up his silence to his struggle as a
teenager to master standard English." I have never read anything that Thomas
has written that says that Thomas actually spoke Gullah as his first language
in the home or that Thomas had anything to say about why he doesn't
participate from the Court's verbal exchange. (That doesn't mean, of course, that he
didn't say one or the other or both of the things that the article says he said.)

One small bit of information that bears on the subject: My friend and
colleague, the late Wallace Fowlie, claimed to have been Justice Thomas's French
instructor when the judge was an undergraduate. Fowlie had nothing but praise for
the young Mr. Thomas as a scholar--and if Wallace noticed any "Geechee" (or
even debilitating AAVE) in his student's speech, he did not comment to me about

The recordings of Justice Thomas's confirmation hearings have long been
available to the public. I don't recall that he was in any way linguistically
challenged in those discussions--during which he was under no little pressure.

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