27 April 2014

Dialect OR Slang ?

In the essay "Suite for Ebony and Phonics” by John Rickford, he explains what Ebonics is, and the issues people have with it accepting it as an English dialect, and not slang. He discusses the controversies it raised when it was approved as an English dialect. The approval of Ebonics as a primary language of African American students in the Oakland school board caused a major uproar in the public. The majority of the respond towards it was highly negative. People where describing Ebonics as “lazy English” “bad grammar” and “fractured slang”, and Oakland’s decision to recognize Ebonics and used it to facilitate the mastery of Standard English, also received negative critique, calling their decision “ludicrous, very very stupid, and a terrible mistake”. Nonetheless linguists, who study dialects, sounds, words, and grammar, thought more positively of Ebonics, and didn't think the Oakland school board was at a wrong with their decision. A claim Mr. Rickford made in this essay is that linguists identify Ebonics as an English dialect. “The ‘rules’ of the dialect do not allow the deletion of the second consonant at the end of a word unless both, are either voiceless, as in ‘st’ or voiced as in ‘nd’” (pg.281) this supports the claim because it gives an example as how Ebonics isn’t a slang or lazy, it has rules, that wouldn't be used if indeed it was a lazy language.   

Mr. Rickford
I think linguists see the issue of Ebonics differently than the general public, because they have a more broad understanding of what language is. Like you stated in "Suite for Ebony and Phonics” linguists don’t judge how a language is used, linguists describe how people talk. A lot of people might think that language has only one set of specific rules, but languages have a lot different dialects depending on where a person lives. Contrary to what some people might think, linguists agree that Ebonics is not “fractured slang” or a “lazy language”, it is an English dialect. As noted in your essay, according to the experimental studies made in both the United States and Europe it might be easier to master a language if the differences between a student’s dialect and Standard English were made clear. People who are not well informed in Ebonics and or how languages work are not going to understand that it is not “lazy language” but a dialect of English and that it has its own set of laws.



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