An essay on the subject of ebonics

The main topic of this paper is the USA, and I have chosen to concentrate on a fairly new issue, the language know as Ebonics. There have always been changes in the English language. This is how the language came about and evolved from standard British English to American English.

An essay on the subject of ebonics

However, as perhaps the most widespread and salient nonstandard dialect of English, and one with strong cultural associations to a historically subjugated and educationally marginalized population, Ebonics has proved impervious to official attempts to eradicate it.

It has thus come to symbolize both the persistent crisis of inner-city communities of color and the persistent failure of public schools to adequately serve those communities. In more recent years, recognition of its systematic nature, and of its importance as a marker of ethnic identity and cultural resistance, has spread among many educators, resulting in attempts to shift assimilationist school policies toward a more tolerant view.

Nonetheless, well-meaning attempts by linguists and educators to address the educational needs of African American children have clashed with powerful language ideologies associating Ebonics with poverty, ignorance, and delinquency.

This entry discusses its history and chief characteristics, the related social and educational debate, and the outlook for its continued use. Origins Black English Vernacular emerged from the crucible of the Southern plantation life of millions of enslaved Africans.

An essay on the subject of ebonics

They had been forcibly abducted and brought to North America during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries and spoke various West African languages, and slaveholders often purposely intermingled slaves from different languages and regions, fearing that fluid communication might foster attempts at rebellion or escape.

As subsequent generations of slaves grew up in this creolized context, English became their native language, albeit an English acquired informally and under conditions of intense repression and social segregation.

Rickford compares three different hypotheses concerning the evolution of Ebonics. The Afrocentric view holds that most of the distinctive phonological and grammatical features of Ebonics reflect features of the Niger-Congo languages spoken by the original enslaved Africans in the New World.

Rickford critiques both of these hypotheses in favor of the creolist view, which holds that as African slaves acquired English, they developed a pidgin that combined features of English and African languages; this pidgin eventually evolved into Ebonics.

Evidence in support of this view includes the many similarities between Ebonics and English-based creole languages of the Caribbean, as well as Gullah, an English creole spoken by African Americans on the sea islands off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina.

Following the abolition of slavery, millions of former slaves and their descendants moved north, seeking employment in the burgeoning industrial centers of the North and freedom from the violent Jim Crow regime of the South. Later, as the United States expanded westward, Ebonics persisted and spread as a distinct dialect, although with regional variations.

A much-cited example is the sentence He be runnin, which indicates an ongoing or habitual action. Not surprisingly, those features of Ebonics that express semantic or grammatical distinctions that are absent from standard English generally go unrecognized by standard English speakers.

Social Status As is true of the speech of ethnic minority groups the world over, Ebonics is highly stigmatized.

Although its grammaticality, phonological regularity, and overall utility as a communicative system have been amply demonstrated, it continues to be perceived by the general public and even sometimes by its speakers as slovenly, lazy, and incorrect.

This perception is continually reinforced by the social barriers to nonstandard speech that are maintained by the dominant White speech community, through institutions like schooling, the media, and the occupational structure. At the same time, Ebonics has strong positive associations for its speakers, as a marker of ethnic identity, community membership, and resistance to White domination.

Many speakers learn to fluidly code-switch between Ebonics and standard English; however, even the nonexclusive use of Ebonics is thought by many to mark speakers as uneducated and coarse. The resolution stressed the similarity between African American students and others with limited English proficiency e.

In fact, the original form of the resolution recommended that Ebonics be used along with English as a medium of instruction for African American children and that it be not only respected but maintained.

However, these provisions were later deleted under pressure, in favor of passages emphasizing the need to transition students from their home language patterns to standard English.

Predictably, the resolution provoked heated debate and even outrage from across the political spectrum. The voices of linguists and educational researchers failed to carry over the din of often uninformed public debate, and the resolution was eventually withdrawn without being implemented.

Future Prospects Although the Ebonics debate has largely died down within education, it has not completely disappeared. On the other hand, the public airing of questions of race and language provoked by the Oakland controversy, combined with the diffusion and sociolinguistic research on Ebonics, led many Americans toward a more tolerant, relativistic view of African American Vernacular English and an acknowledgment of its importance to the cohesion and identity of African American communities.

Furthermore, through its association with certain forms of popular culture, such as rap and hip-hop music, Ebonics has gained considerable ground among U. While such usage retains the air of countercultural resistance associated with inner-city minorities, this may change as the corporate culture industry appropriates this symbol of youth and rebellion for its own purposes.

The literary use of Ebonics by Pulitzerprize-winning authors such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison has also increased its social capital in more prestigious circles. Within urban schools, however, African American children continue to suffer severe educational inequities, manifested in high dropout rates, low college enrollment, and disproportionate failure on various measures of academic achievement.


The language, history, and culture of the White majority continue to constitute the backbone of the public school curriculum. With schools currently more racially segregated than they were in the s, Ebonics is unlikely to disappear anytime soon.

The role of dialectal variation in explaining academic achievement gaps among ethnic groups remains unclear but is probably not negligible. For the time being, educators will continue to seek solutions that are scientifically and pedagogically sound, informed by a concern for educational equity, and compatible with the predominant language ideologies of the larger population.

Linguistic pride and racial prejudice. Language in the inner city: Studies in the Black English Vernacular. University of Pennsylvania Press. The real Ebonics debate: Power, language, and the education of AfricanAmerican children.

African American Vernacular English:What is Ebonics (African American English)?

An essay on the subject of ebonics

John R. Rickford. Download this document as a pdf. At its most literal level, Ebonics simply means 'black speech' (a blend of the words ebony 'black' and phonics 'sounds'). The term was created in by a group of black scholars who disliked the negative connotations of terms like 'Nonstandard Negro.

Ebonics Essay example; Ebonics Essay example. Words 3 Pages. Ebonics The other day I was talking on the subject of Ebonics.

I feel Ebonics should be a language.

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I mean black adolescents that are seen as stupid and non-educated mostly use it. The talk compelled me to do some extensive studying on the subject. Essay about Ebonics Words | 15 Pages Ebonics INTRODUCTION The main topic of this paper is the USA, and I have chosen to concentrate on a fairly new issue, the language know as Ebonics.

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Ebonics And The English Language Essay Sample. In December of a national controversy erupted when the Oakland school district suggested that “ebonics,” which is also known as Black English, was a genetically based second language.

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