Monday, January 30, 2006

"Conversate" Is Not A Word

"Conversate for a few, cause in a few, we gon' do what we came to do, ain't that right boo (truuuueee)." -- Notorious B.I.G., Lyrics to "Big Poppa"

Conversate. Is that a word? Has the dictionary been updated to include "conversate" as a word? The last time I checked (which was about 5 minutes ago), "conversate" was not in the dictionary. So why do we (black folks, that is) continuously use "conversate" in our daily conversations? Is it because we hear rappers use it in their lyrics? Or is it rooted in something deeper that relates back to the years of oppression we faced? Either way, I wish black folks would stop using that word. Yes, black folks. This isn't about white people, or Asians, or Latinos. This is about black folks (just scroll back up to the top of the page and check). So I don't want to hear that white folks use "conversate" also. And as a matter of fact, I can't recall ever hearing a white person say "conversate," but perhaps I'm just not hanging around the right white folks.

Now I'm sure that some folks will be offended by this entry, but they are probably the very same people that like to throw out "conversate" when they are trying to sound intelligent. Someone has already gotten upset and hung up on me when I told him this was the subject of my next entry. Of course, he has used "conversate" in a previous conversation with me. Is it just me? No, it can't be just me. Don't people sound ignorant when they say things like, "Yeah girl, you know I like to 'conversate' about world issues," or "I enjoyed 'conversating' with you?" No, you enjoyed "conversing" with me. I always feel compelled to correct them. Like I'm the friggin' word police or something. But dammit, it's frustrating to hear black folks sound ignorant.

Originally, this entry was going to focus on what seems to be black folks' perpetual problems with grammar, but I figured that a discussion about the use of "conversate" is deserving of its own entry. Maybe it's just me. If that's the case, post your comments and let me know.

On an administrative note, starting Monday, February 6, 2006, this blog will be updated weekly every Monday. That way, you can start your week with some intelligent (hopefully) discussion! :)



Randy said...

CONVERSATE gets to you in the same way WHERE YOU BE AT gets to me.

We, as Black people accept and condone poor grammar (as in the case of the teacher in California who wants ebonics taught in public school), and expect others to do the same.

People judge your intelligence (be they right or wrong) by the way you speak and dress. Pull up your pants, get clothes that fit and brush up on your English.

For those of you that don't understand what we’re talking about, “Let me know where you be at later, so we can conversate”.

LaMar said...

Could it be argued that black people are at the forefront of the evolution of the english language? The english language as we know it is significantly different from what was spoken more than 200 years ago when the conquest of the Americas began. English itself is merely a derivation of germanic tongues, mixed with latin and norse. As english is one of the younger world languages (only about 500 years old), why shouldn't it continue to change?

Evolution is a part of our technologically advanced world. Should the words we speak remain the same in a world that changes in the blink of an eye?

I understand your grievance when it comes to those who believe that "conversate" is acceptable in all situations. Is it wrong, however, to know that I can conversate with my brothers and sisters on the weekend, before I return to the corporate world to converse with my co-workers?

Just a few thoughts from my sleep deprived mind.

Anonymous said...

Girl, you are so funny! I know that has been one of your pet peeves for years. I'll be checking your blog weekly.


Anonymous said...

i will continue to conversate with my peeps irregardless of what you say notta!!!!

disgruntled black women

thespookwhosatbythedoor said...

First of all, this latest posting is hilarious! I too have issues with the way we as black folk use grammar. In the D.C. area, for instance, people arbitrarily put an "s" at the end of random words. There is a night club called Dream, that most people call
Dream(s). There is a city called Siver Spring, that local folk constantly refer to as
Siver Spring(s).

However, I think Lamar made a good point when he asked if it was okay to conversate with his brothers and sisters on the weekend and converse with his corporate co-workers during the week.

I agree that there is a time and place for everything. But the problem arises when you don't know the difference. I've witnessed too many situations where a black person used the word conversate while trying to sound intelligent. And thats a problem!

Crystal Apple said...

My GUESSTIMATION is that most black folks- who have a tendency to idolize ATHELETES and entertainers- are just following their leaders. If proper grammar isn't used in songs or in these stars' interviews, then why should the "common public." My theory is, WHAT HAD HAPPENED WAS, there's been a breakdown in the importance of education in our communities, and who are true role models should be. But what's WORSER is when our other (supposedly more educated) leaders, such as politicians and minister, don't use proper grammar either.

Crystal Apple aka "Pop Pop" Pecchioni

Notta's Sister said...

There goes another one.... IRREGARDLESS. Thanks disgruntled black women.

r. parrish said...

An interesting question. I have two reactions to the use of the term "conversate." In the proper context, I have no problem with its use. If someone uses the term stylistically, knowing it isn't a word, and in an informal conversation, then it's cool. If you are black and educated and want to communicate effectively with your own people, you often must be able to understand and use the vernacular. "Conversate" is vernacular and can be appropriate in limited settings.

"Conversate," however, becomes embarassing when used in formal speech. At that moment I cringe and think back to those racist Amos & Andy skits of the 1940s and 50s where the two black title characters often used complicated words incorrectly. The moment a black person uses "conversate" in formal speech, we all are perceived that way and become the target of ridicule.

So...on balance, I think you have to be very careful in its use. I'm not sure the word police are necessary, but its use should be discouraged among those persons who have a difficult time understanding when and where it is appropriate.

my opinion... said...

It’s definitely a rap thing. I don’t remember hearing people use conversate until Biggie made it hot. Least that’s where I got it from. Thank you Biggie for continuously push the boundaries of the English language because honestly I get tired of speaking formal English sometimes. It can be sterile, plain and boring.

Perhaps the solution is to embrace the word “conversate” for what it is?

If the test for the usefulness of a word is how effectively it communicates a thought then “conversate” is a very usefully word to me if used in the context in which Biggie birthed it.

It does communicate effectively what I do when I’m in “The back of the club, sippin Moet…” “mackin…” ”to all the ladies in the place with style and grace”.

It does not communicate, at all, what I do at work, in formal setting, with elders, etc.

Think about this for a minute. I worked for Dell over the summer and everyone there uses “Strategary” to refer when they engage in any strategic activity. The word quoted in some of the books in my MBA supply chain program. If Michael Dell can use his influence to mainstream “strategary” into the supply chain world then Biggie can use his influence to mainstream “conversate” into the hip hop culture.

My opinion…

Anonymous said...

"That a president can ask "Is our children learning?," a basketball star can use the word "conversate," a well-known college professor can say "vociferous" when he means "voracious," and another can scold a student for using the word "juggernaut" because she believes it means "jigaboo" is disturbing. But these are precisely the sorts of errors, if enough people make them, that the staff at Merriam-Webster will one day include in their dictionaries:

child: n, pl or sing children.

conversate: to exchange thoughts or opinions in speech; to converse.

vociferous: 1 marked by or given to vehement insistent outcry, 2 voracious.

juggernaut: 1 a massive inexorable force, campaign, movement, or object that crushes whatever is in its path, 2 usu offensive jigaboo; black person."

--taken from

written by Robert Hartwell Fiske, editor and publisher of The Vocabula Review, a monthly online publication ( He is also the author of "The Dictionary of Concise Writing" and "The Dimwit's Dictionary."

Curry said...

Wow .. She said "irregardless". THAT has to be the worse/worst word to be birthed from attitudes & neckroles. I can hear it now! "See, see but what i'm finna say is, IRREGARDLESS of what Tasheeka had said, you ain't gotta be all up in her BIZNESS like that!"

If I hear "conversate" ever again, it would be too soon.

Raj said...

Good one. Really an eye opener. Keep posting more. Will only converse hereafter.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate Notta's intentions and could not agree more but I just could not let go the fact that the top of the page and his subsequent remarks include the incorrect use of the word(s) "dammit". It should of course be "damn it". So, if you are going to admonish your "peeps" for using bad grammar, maybe you should re-work this page. Peace.

Notta Golddigger said...

Fixer - The word "dammit" is actually an accepted variation of the expression "damn it." The word "dammit" is "used to express anger, irritation, contempt, or disappointment." So although I appreciate your intentions, you may want to do some research next time. However, I should probably expect such comments from someone who says "your peeps," and then places the word peeps in quotation marks. That just reeks of racial undertones.

*hollywood* said...

I just thought I'd add this to the mix: IDEA or IDEAL? When will people learn the difference? The last time I heard 'ideal' being used in place of 'idea' was on a court show 2 days ago. The defendant said (to the judge) "Your honor, she had no IDEAL what was going on." And in my head, I'm saying, "No, fool....YOU don't have any IDEA what's going on!" I've also heard people say 'tooken' instead of 'taken'. And it really bothers me but if you try to correct the person, you're risking getting your head 'tooken' off.

Anonymous said...

Girl, where have you been? I have this conversation with my guy quite often!! I've tried explaining to the nut that the word is converse and not conversate. It's sad when siginificant others think they know everything! I've forwarded this to him in hopes that he will STOP saying that!! Pet peeve for real!!!

Azaru said...

Its so telling when people use this word. And it is ALWAYS someone trying to impress. I cringe every time I read it or hear it used and it is very hard for me to overlook. So Thank you, thank you thank you for just going ahead on and puttin' this out there. Because from now on, EVERY time I hear it, I am going to refer people directly to this blog!!! Do not stop, do not pass go, go directly to this blog and do not collect $200.
My bruthas and sistas, the best way to impress is for YOU to know whether what you're saying is grammatically correct. I know that no one enjoys being corrected but understand that this criticism is given out of love. We could've just let y'all continue to walk around here being a laughing stock but nawl we tryin' to break you off a lil' sum'in sum'in. So please don't take it PERSONAL (NOTTA... your next blog perhaps? hehe).
But seriously, what we must always remember about language is that it is in constant flux. In many cases what's incorrect today could be correct tomorrow. "Ain't" was just included in the dictionary a few of decades ago and it still ain't real impressive to this day when it's used. The powers that be at Webster's (and who the hell are they anyway!) can arbitrarily include anything, hence the recent inclusion of "bootylicious." Thanks a lot Beyonce. The point is just be educated about your word choice.
Now speaking of bootylicious...NOTTA where u at?
Gull you lookin' kinda crute!
Wanna be my babymama one time?

Anonymous said...

LMFAO at this>>>

"i will continue to conversate with my peeps irregardless of what you say notta!!!!

disgruntled black women"

i seriously hope that dbw checks back to see her special mix of arrogance and ignorance pointed out in ridicule.

Anonymous said...

Please read the following:
Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English conversate
Part of Speech: v
Definition: to socialize and chat; to converse with another
Etymology: back-formation from conversation
Usage: slang
Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.7)
Copyright © 2003-2008 Lexico Publishing Group, LLC

Anonymous said...


I may seem ignorant, but really, how can anybody be taken seriously when using the term 'conversate'?

My WHITE friends use it. It discourages me. I'm just astonished by their idiocy.

That, and... one person used the word "irregardless" in the wrong context.
Another used "worsten."
Is that even a word?
I swear, it's time for people to start looking up words that don't sound like words.

Anonymous said...

and Webster's new dictionary, icck.
It should not be used, ever.

Anonymous said...

I am a white guy mostly commenting about the evolution of language in an earlier reply.

I like your observations about English and the way it has changed and I agree that it will continue to change. Especially American English as we add more Spanish and Chinese influences. But there is still a generally accepted dictionary of words at a given time and it is by definition incorrect to use words not officially part of the language.

When people use incorrect words because they don't know better they are ignorant and are judged that way by the people that do know the difference.

Language is a way to unify people. When people try to se themselves apart with Ebonics or Spanish in this country it just leads to one more thing to divide people.

Actually though I kind of like conversate but I haven't heard it used in speech in place of a real word to be bothered by it. I do however want to say that an axe is a tool used to chop wood.

Anonymous said...

thats retarded. its not a black thing. its just a thing. i know friggin educated ppl who say this word on a regular basis and...oh look! none of them that i know of are black. thats so ignorant of you.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more notta!
These are the ones that bug me on a daily basis:

where is it at
where are you at
I did good
should have went to the store
when ate and eaten gets confused

thanks for this post! hopefully someone will learn from it.

Anonymous said...

You am beautiful!

Anonymous said...

And what does this mean??? Let me AXE you a question????? Notta, you are cracking me up!

Anonymous said...

I, personally, use the word “conversate” occasionally. Until today, I did not know that it was a real word. I speak French and have studied Latin, and as far as I know, the word “conversate” is derived from the French verb “converser” and the Latin verb “conversare”. I thought that “to conversate” was informal English and “to converse” formal.

Thank you for the clarification.

Esther said...

I am so glad that you posted this. I love this topic. I had no idea so many people felt this way.

I totally agree with you. It's quite unfortunate that people are so judgmental and will look down on others and "write them off" when they speak incorrectly. I know, because I do. But if I, as some average Joe, am passing judgment upon a person who uses the word "conversate", then you better believe that everyone else is doing it, too, including job interviewers, customers and potential clients.

The message you're trying to relay is totally valid and the comment made by "anonymous" that you're ignorant for targeting black people for using this word needs to get a clue. Notta didn't say that it's ONLY black people using that word, she's only directing black people in this blog, not any other race.

For that teacher who wanted to bring ebonics into school curriculum... You're an idiot! You should be fired for even suggesting such stupidity! During slavery, black people weren't allowed to attend school, hence, ebonics was born. Ebonics stems from a lack of education and it's unfortunate that it's still alive and going strong today. I'm not just targeting black people, because all people without formal education speak in similar manners, i.e., grammatically incorrect, using the wrong tense and words out of context. It's just too bad for educated black people that it was tagged "ebonics."

To "my opinion" who said,
"Thank you Biggie for continuously push the boundaries of the English language because honestly I get tired of speaking formal English sometimes. It can be sterile, plain and boring."
Well, you may perceive proper English as sterile, plain and boring, but it's correct. I highly doubt that Biggie used the word "conversate" intentionally to "push the boundaries" because he was bored. Are you also saying that all people who mistakenly use "conversate" truly know the proper word, but are also trying to make some sort of a statement?

I also like how "disgruntled black women" signed her (their?) comment using "womEn." Is she speaking on behalf of herself and all other disgruntled black women? If she's some sort of a spokesperson, I can't imagine how stupid the rest of that group is.

lakeithae said...

Why is English so hard to learn?

(author/s unknown)

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) I did not object to the object.
9) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
10) They were too close to the door to close it.
11) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
12) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
13) I shed my clothes in the shed.

Let's face it - English is a ridiculous language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in ah amburger; neither apple nor pine in a pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England, nor French fries in France.
Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are

You cannot buy boots in Boots, You cannot buy virgins in Virgin, You cannot buy threshers in Threshers and the Superdrug chain is a great disappointment.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that bakers bake, but grocers don't groce?
If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth?
One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices?
If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

And finally, how about when you want to shut down your computer you have to hi t "START"?

Anonymous said...

MEMO!!!Conversate is now a word!! It's in the English Dictionary. Check it out!!!

Anonymous said...

to converse
or we conversed
or will you converse with me.

Anonymous said...

Oh, but it is.
Just like "google" is a verb. It's slang. It's in the dictionary. It's a word.

Anonymous said...

It's about time that someone dedicated a site to grammar usage because perpetuating ignorance on any level should not be tolerated. I was just grammatically assaulted by Charlie Wilson in his latest song. He used the word conversating. How dare the producers and publisher allow such ignorance to go out over our air waves!!! Shame on the radio stations for playing this garbage.

californialuv.619 said...

I think that most people that use the word conversate not knowing that it's to converse. I don't think it's as deep as we're making it out to be. There's many words I have used incorrectly. I find out it's wrong, I change my ways and move on. I will not say conversate ever again.

Anonymous said...

Believe me, white people use the word too. The first time I heard it used was by a military person. Maybe he had been overseas somewhere, and picked it up from someone just learning English. I hate it too. I could gag on conversating, but the all time worst word is irregardless. My 70 year old aunts use it in every conversation we have.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, I was taught the word conversate by a white English teacher.
Secondly, it can be logically deduced that if compense, compensate, compensation, compensated, compensating are acceptable english words, then converse should have the same suffix variation as compense. There are a host of other words like compense which we use very often so it is a logical mistake. This error does not originate in the ghetto, it originated with white cultural grammar. I am certain that just as many whites as blacks make the same mistake. I remember studying abroad in Europe and I had to correct to white girls who were studying abroad at the same university. They insisted that lacksadaisical was the correct pronunciation of the word lackadaisical. So I think it has more to do with the experience a person has with academic English, than simply the skin color of the person using the word.

Anonymous said...

Conversate not a word, says who, the same people that MAKE up words, that made up the ENGLISH language. People evolve, the world evolves, why not the language. Blacks and whites learned and unlearned even extremely well educated people use this word. It may not be recognized-yet, but that doesnt in itself make it not a word. Aint was said to be a non-word when I was growing up, and is still not recognized as a standard word...refered to a non-standard word. So conversate is a non-standard word also. What makes a word a word anyway...its when people use it alot and it becomes accepted in usuage, just like the word aint. Conversate is such a word and will be include in future upgrades of the dictionary. And by the way...we can coversate and debate this issure anytime. And yes I am well educated! Besides if a person let a word define another person alone than it is not that person using the word that is uneducated and is the person that lets the word define others for them and is confined by that level of thought!

Theo said...

I wish black people could see themselves as the rest of the world sees them.
They will destroy the civilized world. They are breeding out of control and are pulling us down while the P.C. pukes are scratching their heads trying to figure who else to blame for your many shortcomings.
Your grammer is the least of the world's worries where your people are concerned.

Anonymous said...

Letters put together to form syllables that sound out to words have what ever meaning we give them. It does not matter if I say "We were conversating" or "we were conversing", it is understood what I am saying. I mean seriously, the dictionary has "bootylicious" in it.

Dr.Bill said...

I have white friends which also use "conversate", "conversating". Ditto for driving you nuts. DR.Bill

Berlande said...

Black people are known to make up new words and some end up in the dictionary... such as bootylicious, swag,, and so on..that is all

Anonymous said...

Irregardless ha! I hav a better one....'Just because' used 'je-be-cuz' ?????? :/

Anonymous said...

What an interesting entry. I've been frustrated about this myself. I would also like to know why some African Americans cannot say the letters 'th' correctly in certain words. It's not "happy birfday" or "I just took a baf and the water was freezing" or "go wif me to the store" or "I can't hold my bref that long" or "I am still upset by the sudden def of my dog Fluffy". I am looking forward to being enlightened with your funny reply.
I think LaMar's argument on black folks being on the "forefront of the evolution of the english language" is laughable. Really? I thought he was making a joke. I'd like to know his thoughts on black folks and the higher rate of illiteracy. Is illiteracy the "new black"? When you make justifications for the deficiencies of any group of people, you are perpetuating those deficiencies. To me, that is just common sense.

Sheldon-Louise said...

Dear Notta,
I can across your blog whilst trying to prove the point that "conversate" is not a word to one of my more illiterate friends, of caucasian origin may I point out. As a member of the african american community I am highly offended. As i teenager I am already subjected to generalizations. I feel you blog negatively stereotypes the african american community by reinforcing the negative portrayal of the black community. Thank you for your time.

Anonymous said...

First of all people. Conversate is a word. Its a verb. The only reason u can't find it in the dictionary because it has more than one meaning. Do u see the plural and singular meaning of every word in the dictionary.

"BLACK GIRL" said...

Believe me, WHITE people use the word too.
smh this is a hot mess.. very judgemental.. im sure every black person DOES NOT use "conversate"
FACT:im black and i hate when i hear "PEOPLE" in general use that word.. i wish it was bashing black peoples grammar..idk it sux that more than half of the people on here didnt stand up ..smh 2011 come on

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog! I have a habit of correcting those who use that pseudo word. It ranks up there with fingernails on the chalk board, and those who use the word irregardless.

Anonymous said...

It is not just black people that use conversating,white,asian and other people use it.people who talk like that were raised around not all black people are raised the same.this is not the past everyone has the opportunity to get a the way you put your words together seems like you think all black people don't have a education.

Anonymous said...

Look its simple. The world is the way it is.
If you want to progress and attain success in this world, aim in the direction of our esteemed President Obama, and stick with English.
If you wana stay back,or bury yourself in the rap/hiphop world, then use ebonics. Thats the only place it will be accepted.
Conversate, ignant,mutha f--ka,ya know wat im sayin, and other such words and phrases is not proper English. If the rap/hiphop artists really wanted to help the people progress in this world, they wouldn't sabotage us by using these words,wouldn't wear clothes hanging half way to the floor,portraying a gangster attitude, and displaying immature body language to our youth. I hope someday they will realize the error of their ways. Their excuse of saying "well that's my way of entertaining", doesn't fly. They are seen as role models to our youth, and they should act accordingly.
Also to the people that said white people say conversate-[where do you think they learned it from? rap on the radio!!!].
oh a special hi to disgruntled Black woman, you keep on keepin on, we wouldnt want you to change a thing :-)

Anonymous said...

First time that i heard conversate was from a young black man at a work related event. I of course understood what he meant and i actually thought maybe i learned a new word. I have never used the word but have heard it used more frequently of late, the last person to use this was my very white girlfriend. I told her that conversate was not a word and she was not impressed.

Mwatuangi said...

Conversate is a word. Read it and weep:

Calli said...

Yes, online dictionaries are including the word 'conversate' into their databases. So far, the ones I've checked have it listed as a nonstandard word. That won't keep an English teacher from using her red ink pen on it.

I can't help but notice that almost every person who commented in defense of the word 'conversate' also had grammar and/or spelling mistakes within the comment.

Language does evolve, but as it evolves it pays to know when you can use a new or nonstandard word and when it's not appropriate. If you don't know the difference, or even if there is a difference, it will affect the way that others perceive you.

Anonymous said...

Conversate and conversating are indeed words! They were added to the english vocabulary and dictionary years ago. You people soung foolish for bashing others that use the word.

Anonymous said...

I just got corrected at a lunch table full of white people, by a woman who informed me that conversating is not a word (as I said it so emphatically), it is conversing, and as I write this I see the red squiggly correction line that underlines it.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't have agreed more

Anonymous said...


Jayy said...

Well Spoken.

Anonymous said...

Convsrsate is in the Webster online dictionary

Anonymous said...

It's getting out of control. My bf and I had a 10 minute debate about this issue after I heard him say it. He feels justified for using the word and most likely will continue to use it because "that's what they said where I'm from". Which is one of the poorest uneducated and violent cities in Texas. He also said "I don't give a heck about what the masses think. Correct me when you get a masters degree" smh

Anonymous said...

Ummm....wrong. The word originated in a Saturday Night Live matter how they use it at Dell its still not a word.

Anonymous said...

I have never heard a white person say conversatenor axe.

Anonymous said...

As a person responsible for HR at my company, I would never hire anyone that used the 'word' CONVERSATE is their interview!!!

Anonymous said...

I am with you on the conversate thing. However, how about mines instead of mine and ax instead of ask. I hear mines all of the time and I cringe everytime. Most times I reply with who's? Some people get it and some don't.


Anonymous said...

The problem with using the proper word "converse" rather than "conversate" is that we black people love sneakers so much that we'd confuse it with the Converse athletic shoe brand.