Linguistics Ebonics Is a Term Coined by Term Paper
- Length: 10 pages
- Sources: 10
- Subject: Communication - Language
- Type: Term Paper
- Paper: #60732491
Excerpt from Term Paper :
Ebonics is a term coined by Robert L. Williams in 1975. It was developed by merging the words ebony and phonics. Ebonics is defined as a system of oral communication utilized by Americans of African ancestry that consists of phonology, syntax, morphology, semantics, lexicon, rate, rhythm, stress, and nonverbal communication. Ebonics started during the trans-Atlantic African slave trade during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Africans who were brought over to the new world spoke languages such as, Ibo, Yoruba, Hanusa, Wolof, Twi, Hausa, Dogon, Akan, Kimbundu, and Bambara, among others. In spite of the use of these isolating tactics, slaves developed ways to converse with one another. White slave owners also comprehended that they needed a way to converse their needs to their slaves and vice versa. This led to the advancement of a mixture of different African languages and English. This type of language is normally referred to as pidgin or a basic mixture of two or more languages or the language of operation (Grant, Oka & Baker, 2009).
Since the 1996 Oakland School Boards decision concerning the use of Ebonics as a tool of teaching, opinions has conflicted over whether Ebonics is a separate language or merely a dialect of English. "Called Black Vernacular English (BVE) in the 1960's and 70's and African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) in the 1980's and 90's, Ebonics has conventionally been thought to be a dialect of English by educators and linguists. In order to comprehend why Ebonics might be measured a language other than English requires a closer look at what it takes to make a language, as well as what the dissimilarities are between a language and a dialect" (Fasold, 2010).
Linguists normally concur that the design of a language is mainly, or entirely, social and political. What it takes to make a language is not just a set of structural linguistic assets or lack of intelligibility with related linguistic systems, but rather the assurance that the linguistic system in question is a symbol of nationalist or ethnic distinctiveness. There are cases worldwide of the two logical potential cases in which equally incomprehensible linguistic diversities belong to the same language and others were equally intelligible varieties are separate languages. "There is, consequently, no linguistic or geographical reason that Ebonics could not obtain status as a language distinct from English. Two objections that are likely to be raised are that 1) Ebonics is not a language, but rather English tainted by bad grammar and excessive slang, and 2) Ebonics and English are too similar to each other to be dissimilar languages" (Fasold, 2010).
African-American English (AAE) is a dialect of American English used by a lot of African-Americans in certain settings and situations. Like other dialects of English, AAE is a regular, systematic language mixture that contrasts with other dialects in terms of its grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary (Dialects, 2010). At its most exact level, Ebonics simply means black speech. It is a merge of the words ebony meaning black and phonics meaning sounds. The term was created in 1973 by a group of black scholars who did not like the negative implications of other terms that were being used at the time (Baik, 2011). Yet, the term Ebonics never caught on amongst linguists, much less among the general public. But that all changed with the Ebonics debate of December 1996 when the Oakland (CA) School Board documented it as the primary language of its majority African-American students and resolved to take it into consideration in teaching them standard English (Rickford, n.d.).
Most linguists refer to the characteristic speech of African-Americans as Black English or African-American English (AAE) or, if they want to stress that this doesn't include the Standard English usage of African-Americans, as African-American Vernacular English (AAVE). In theory, scholars who favor the term Ebonics or alternatives like African-American language wish to emphasize the African roots of African-American speech and its associations with languages spoken elsewhere in the Black Diaspora, like Jamaica or Nigeria. But in practice, AAVE and Ebonics fundamentally refer to the same sets of speech forms (Rickford, n.d.).
AAE is an organized language selection, with patterns of pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and usage that extend far beyond slang. Since it has a set of rules that is disconnected from those of Standard American English, the characterizations of the variety as bad English are inaccurate. Speakers of AAE do not fail to speak Standard American English, but do well in speaking African-American English. Linguists are less worried with whether or not AAE is a language or a dialect than with distinguishing the organized nature of AAE (Dialects, 2010).
The original Ebonics build was proposed to reflect the international linguistic consequences of the African slave trade. Prior to its invention, no single term described the linguistic consequences of this period in history. The huge preponderance of relevant studies had all been in the United States, and terms varied from year to year. "Nonstandard Negro English was common during the 1960's, succeeded by Black English or Black English Vernacular (BEV) during the 1970's and most of the 1980's. Eventually the term African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) was introduced as yet another synonym for the speech of most blacks in America. Yet, unlike Ebonics, Black English or AAVE never explicitly referred to the linguistic legacy of the African slave trade beyond the United States" (Ebony + Phonics, 2005).
When looked at from a purely scientific viewpoint, the relative linguistic or educational value of Ebonics depends upon its exact definition, including the specific criteria by which it is come to recognize the systematic nature of a language or dialect and those who foster it through their daily speech. From a purely linguistic viewpoint, linguistic speech communities have never been defined based upon the race of their speakers. On the other hand, because all African slaves were chosen, at least in part, for the reason that they shared physical characteristics, Ebonics forces scholars, educators, policy makers and others to consider the special linguistic circumstances of African slave descendants (Ebony + Phonics, 2005).
A lot of educational policies and services are instituted based on a child's native language. Students who speak languages other than English may be qualified for special programs to help move forward their English fluency. Oakland educators realized that many of their African-American students were at a severe educational drawback because they lacked sufficient skill in Standard English. Rather than dispute that AAVE speakers were in greater need of standard English fluency, though, Oakland educators quarreled that black students were linguistically similar to others for whom English is not their first language (Ebony + Phonics, 2005).
Depending upon which definition of Ebonics one chooses, resulting policy and economic choices can have intense social, educational, legal and political consequences. One such impact is the budgetary impact of expanding bilingual education programs to include African-Americans; clearly, neither educators nor politicians had ever pondered or planned for such a viewpoint. Furthermore, the highly articulate speech of African-Americans who are in the public eye serve as regular reminders that a lot of blacks have mastered standard English devoid of any benefit of or obvious need for special educational programs (Ebony + Phonics, 2005).
The notion that Ebonics is very bad English is clearly false to linguists who have studied it in detail. Outside the area of academic linguistics, though, the idea that Ebonics is bad English is usually held to be un-controversially true. Therefore, it is necessary to show that this notion is indefensible. It is clear on assessment that Ebonics, far from being bad English, is in fact superior to English in one of its subsystems, the verbal tense feature system. Additionally, in regards to the verb structure that English has, Ebonics provides its speakers with rich possessions for making distinctions among kinds and times of actions and states that can be made in English only awkwardly through use of a longer and more uncomfortable expression (Fasold, 2010).
The subject of Ebonics has been in the center of disagreement for many years. A lot of linguists and scholars have argued over whether or not Ebonics is a dialect of English, or a language in itself. In order to deal with this issue one must in fact look at how language is defined. Language is made up of the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and comprehended by a society. Those who dispute Ebonics is just a dialect of English tend to look at its vocabulary. They say since it shares alike vocabulary with Standard American English, that it must be a dialect of English. According to linguistics, a language is determined by its grammatical structure not alike vocabularies. A lot of languages like Spanish and Portuguese share words that have alike meanings, yet they are still two separate languages (Obasaju, Stewart, Jackson & Timberlake, n.d.).
Some scholars suggest that there is connection in the grammar of blacks and whites. Yet there has been empirical evidence that proposes the grammar of…