27 April 2014


       In the article, Suite for Ebony and Phonics, John Rickford has discussed the issue of ebonics as a language versus a dialect of English. While ebonics simply means 'black speech' (a blend of the words ebony 'black' and phonics ‘sounds'). However, many arguments has been made referring ebonics as a completely different language. In this case, the author claims that ebonics is a dialect since there is similarities to standard English that form a strong bond. The evidence for that has been provided in article when author stated “ Ebonics is more of a dialect of English than a separate language, because it shares many words and other features with other informal varieties of American English. And its speakers can easily communicate with speakers of other American English dialects.” ( pg-279). This supports the claim because when people can talk and understand each other, that means they’ve understandable/common way communicating. Because the two "languages" differ when it comes to grammatical structures, but the words are similar in both languages. 

Dear Mr. John Rickford,
I read your article, Suite for  Ebony and Phonics, and it was so helpful for me to enlighten myself  on similarities and differences of ebony and Standard English. And also how it came into being. However, concerning to the question you asked “ why linguists see the issue [of Ebonics] differently from most other people”, I would say it has to do with research and study. Linguists study all of the features and characteristics of a particular language (ex: ebonics) in details while other people don’t. General public, who don’t study languages, may not be able to come up with distinct rules of grammar and pronunciation (regarding to ebonics, standard English and slang), unless they would start any research on it. However, people can become aware of all this when linguists notify people by using media resources and also by spreading the idea of informing students about language differences and similarities.


Syeda Abbas

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