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jeffSaturday 07th of May 2005 05:00:45 PM
Status of Ebonics? - I was living in San Francisco back in the early to mid 90's during the dawn of the internet, business was booming, Netscape's IPO set new stock market precscents, the real estate market began it's ascent (and continues to go strong some 10 years later). The only thing missing was a good ole fashioned Jerry Springer style controversy to fill the void created after the OJ Simpson trial came to a close, (if the glove don't fit, you gotta acquit).

Society needed a new pop-cultural media-fueled controversy to focus it's attention on, an uniquely American tactic of amusing ourselves, keeping life fun and interesting while preventing us from taking our own lives and issues too seriously. A celebrity scandal, whimsical debate, political gaff, someone or another pushing the exploitation-for-profit envelope too far, what would it be?

Right across the Bay Bridge in the city of Oakland California (Oaktown as it's called in Ebonics)erupted the perfect media obsession to fill this void. A fantastic issue with all the right mix of ingredients including the great American fixation on racial tensions. Out of nowhere, the issue of Ebonics became the Nation's next new obsession.

The general idea was that children from poor inner-city schools, predominately black African American children, were not succeeding in their education relative to the well-off suburban school districts of predominately white Anglo-European American children. This was a well known and accepted generalization or many years, but what what came to light was the Oakland County School board's conclusion for why this was the case, and what their plan was to remedy the situation.

The problem as they saw it was that the inner city children grew in households and culture that didn't speak plain English, but instead, spoke a black dialect/slang version of English. A group of Stanford PhD's labeled this language with the arcane acronym, AAVD... (African American Vernacular Dialect), somehow, it also became known as Ebonics. Perhaps AAVD translated from English to AAVD equals Ebonics.

It was reasoned that Ebonics differed from regular English enough to be a primary cause of learning difficulties. So the solution was to start changing textbooks and translating them into Ebonics, and to teach the teachers how to speak and teach in Ebonics rather than English. So for example, instead of saying "can I ask you a question".. the Ebonics equivalent would be "let me aks you sumpun". Instead of "Hi, how are you", Ebonics translates this into "Yo, what up".

We are coming up on the 10th year anniversary of the great Ebonics controversy, and I just wanted to see if anyone is close to this issue has any news, updates or information about it... Is it still alive? Is this a legitimate issue or was it all one big hoax? what is the progress/status on it?

Word up, Audi 5000 G, I'm out.

Serious Discussion on Ebonics:

CarameliciousSunday 08th of May 2005 06:35:48 AM
- I think ebonics is real, but I don't think it is as big as people make it seem. Being African American it just seems that people who are not African American or who speak more of a "Standard" English make "Ebonics" a bigger situation than it seems.

Here where I live, no we do not speak standard english we do say things like, "What you up to?" or "Who dat be at da door?" But it is just the way that we speak. Sometimes I do have to think about things when I say then and how to say them in "Standard" english or something like that.

I don't think ebonics is such a big thing that you need to teach someone it is if it were a language seperate from english, because from my point of view I really don't think it is. It is just the way some people talk, some people say "Who are you?" and some people say "Who you be?"

This is just my point of view. :D
stormgoblinTuesday 10th of May 2005 02:41:25 PM
i believe - that it reflects the racial psychology of african americans. even if it was a subconscious motivation, i think it in some way accurately reflects a black perspective. like to say "you be" is a mixture of second person pronoun with infinitive. which kinda implies a more omniscient state of being, a more distant way of adressing someone. i think this may partially have something to do with the fact that blacks were trying to construct a language based on a cultural language spoken by their oppressors. so, therefore, anything in english sounds like a more omniscient perspective--as white man looks down on black culture. so maybe the language is attempt to reconcile the english language as it is reflected by the white majority. i think that ebonics therefore represents a different style of speech, and a different form of thought...even, if these "grammatical errors" were unintentional, or subconscious. take "where you at?" for instance. instead of saying as is common, "where are you," the ebonics speaker would not leave the question open-ended, but makes a distinct reference to a physical location (at), which i think represents better the mentality of an african. i dont' know if anyone wants to actually teach or discuss ebonics here, but i'm open to learning about it.
AylorTuesday 21st of June 2005 05:31:41 AM
- Ebonics isn't a real language. It's just bad english. It can be turned on and off for most people. It isnt really a terrible thing, its fine for casual conversation. It's not something I look down upon...that is, if you CAN'T speak proper english...

I just don't think it should be turned on, ever. If you can easily speak proper english, I don't think you have any business speaking ebonics. I'm black, and I've never felt the need to speak ebonics around my family, or other black people. Turning it on and off based on the race of people you are around is ridiculous.
NtriguesUFriday 24th of June 2005 02:13:10 PM
Ebonics Language or Idiom of English - I can't say that I ever spoke what would be termed as Ebonics. I think the term is an attempt to classify poor English skills into something that is acceptable. I wouldn't call it an much of a language as I would a regional idiom. If we are to give Ebonics it's own classification as a language then we need to do the same with southern language of different regions as there are idioms spoken that, for all accounts, is poor English as well spoken by multiple races in the south. Someone from South Carolina speaks very difficulty from someone from Tennessee or West Virginia. Therefore I would classify these as more of a local dialect riddle with idiomatic phrases, which does not make a language.

My next statement may seen contradictory to the above, but every language has to start with bits and pieces of consistent verbiage that might be in the form of idioms then evolves to a Creole and possible more evolution to a standalone language, but I don't think Creole nor the other English dialects really have a chance of splintering into their own language..

Just my thoughts

Nothing chiseled in stone here.

PetrSunday 26th of June 2005 06:58:57 PM
- I just wonder. Wouldn't Ebonics in any case be classified a pidgin or creole?
emilyellen24Wednesday 29th of June 2005 10:54:17 PM
ebonics - As a professor of linguistics, I can tell you with all confidence that "ebonics" (a dismissive and inaccurate label - it blends the words "ebony" and "phonics" even though phonics has nothing to do with it), or African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is recognized by linguists across the country as a valid and complete dialect of English - although some scholars would argue that it is evolving into its own language. It is neither a pidgin nor a creole, as it did not begin as the blending of two languages. This is based on some very real facts about AAVE, including the consistency of the grammatical structures within AAVE. AAVE also introduces non-AAVE English speakers to some very logical evolutions in the language. An earlier post referred to the word "aks" (pronounced like "axe," used in place of the word "ask"). Many see this word simply as sloppy English, but in fact because the "ks" sound is so much easier for a native English speaker to say than the "sk" sound (try it!), it is likely that we would have changed this word eventually anyway, as we did with contractions, etc. If it's easier to say, it will come into common usage.

I'd also like to clarify that in California, the proposal from the school board was NEVER to replace any form of English with AAVE. The school board recognized all along that in today's society, students need to be able to present themselves as educated and cultured to any audience, especially the dominant (white) culture. But just as ESL teachers need to be fluent in their students' primary languages in order to teach them English, so too might it be helpful (the school board thought) to train their teachers to be sensitive, understanding, and fluent in AAVE in order to better teach the students textbook English.

One last thing, that the posters on this thread should note: there is no such thing as "standard" or "proper" English. I speak the English that is spoken in the Pacific Northwest, which is generally thought of as being "accentless" English, so I grew up with what most people might think of as "standard" English. I'm here to tell you though, that every person I've ever met speaks a slightly different dialect, with a slightly different vocabulary and a slightly different accent. There is no standard English in America - it is the variation and diversity of the language(s) spoken in this country that makes mine such a fascinating and beautiful field of work to be in.