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American Shibboleth: Ebonics
(Released September 2000)

  by Stanley M. (Ben) Novak  


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  1. Symposium on the Ebonics Debate and African-American Language

    Pandey, Anita

    World Englishes, 2000, 19, 1, Mar, 1-4

    Introduction to a symposium on the Ebonics controversy, generated by the Dec 1996 Oakland (CA) School Board's resolution to view African American students as (usually monodialectal) native speakers of African American Vernacular English (AAVE), to whom Standard American English (SAE) should be taught as a second language, for which purpose federal bilingual education funds were requested. Noting the remarkable attention paid to the resolution by national & international media, a symposium on the subject was organized during the Nov 1998 conference of the International Association for World Englishes. Papers presented at the symposium plus some others on the subject are introduced in three sections: different perceptions toward the resolution, descriptive & diachronic perspectives on AAVE, & pedagogical issues. Finally, questions regarding the status of AAVE in relationship to SAE are addressed. 5 References. S. Paul

  2. TOEFL to the Test: Are Monodialectical AAL-Speakers Similar to ESL Students?

    Pandey, Anita

    World Englishes, 2000, 19, 1, Mar, 89-106

    Attention is drawn to the validity of the Oakland School Board's resolution on Ebonics, & to the value of English as a second language-based approaches to teaching Standard American English to speakers of other dialects of American English, by demonstrating the validity of comparisons made between monodialectal speakers of African-American Language/Ebonics & low-level ESL students, & by illustrating the bidialectalism-instilling potential of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Use of this proficiency test puts the spotlight on a much-neglected area, namely, the bidialectal or dialect-specific nature of listening comprehension for pre-college & first-year students raised in the inner city. The findings of two longitudinal studies are cited to demonstrate that, for many Ebonics-speakers, Standard American English is much like a second language. The students' performance on the TOEFL, particularly on the listening comprehension & grammar sections, suggests that both comprehension & production of Standard English can be problematic for transitional students whose first language is African-American Language. The pedagogical implications of this finding are explored. 4 Tables, 52 References. Adapted from the source document

  3. Linguistic Power in Virtual Communities: The Ebonics Debate on the Internet

    Pandey, Anjali

    World Englishes, 2000, 19, 1, Mar, 21-38

    Presents a content analysis of the electronic debate on Ebonics that spanned 18+ months, drawing scholars from all over the world, & culminating in 70+ individual postings on an electronic bulletin board. What this study demonstrates is that, in contesting issues, using the national social debate on Ebonics, linguists seek to assert their power as a group by excluding & marginalizing those parties that do not belong. Analysis illustrates the linguistic devices through which such Othering is constructed & maintained. The resultant electronic debate, while overtly framed about Ebonics, covertly functions to assert the status of linguists as a group. 53 References. Adapted from the source document

  4. Ebonics and the Politics of English

    Baron, Dennis

    World Englishes, 2000, 19, 1, Mar, 5-19

    In 1996, the Oakland, California, Unified School District passed a resolution declaring Ebonics to be the primary language of its African American students. The resolution further declared Ebonics to be a language in its own right, not a dialect of English. In the face of massive national opposition to the Oakland Ebonics resolution, this radical, separatist move shifted to a conservative, assimilationist one: Oakland retracted its declaration of linguistic independence & reaffirmed the traditional pedagogical goal of teaching students Standard English. But the Oakland Ebonics controversy points out that, although the English of former British colonies has come into its own in the literary, cultural, & political scene, to the point where one speaks of World Englishes, the English varieties of what may be regarded as internal colonies - inner cities & the socially disenfranchised - continues to be stigmatized by speakers of more esteemed varieties. 45 References. Adapted from the source document

  5. History, Linguistic Theory, California's CLAD, and the Oakland Public Schools Resolution on Ebonics: What Are the Connections?

    Croghan, Michael

    World Englishes, 2000, 19, 1, Mar, 73-87

    Traces the historical, linguistic, & educational contexts for the resolution passed by the Oakland, California, Public Schools (OPS) School Board on 18 Dec 1996. It is argued that the OPS resolution did not spring from some spontaneous urge, nor from a drive to acquire federal funds. On the contrary, the OPS resolution is (1) a sensible & sagacious extension of the linguistic & cultural history of the African American community; (2) a reasonable & logical implementation of research & theory that has come to light from linguistics & education research over the past 25 years; & (3) a natural & intrinsic desire on the part of African American parents to have their children's teachers acquire the principles, strategies, & competencies that frame California's Crosscultural, Language, & Academic Development (CLAD) Teacher Certification & Credential. 2 Appendixes, 26 References. Adapted from the source document

  6. Dissin' "The Standard": Ebonics as Guerrilla Warfare at Capital High

    Fordham, Signithia

    Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 1999, 30, 3, Sept, 272-293

    This article analyzes the discourse styles, including the linguistic practices, of a group of African American high school students & offers a twofold conclusion: (1) Ebonics or Black English is the norm against which all other speech practices are evaluated by the students at the research site & (2) "the standard," ie, the Standard English dialect, is constructed as a vernacular. As a vernacular, this discourse is not privileged; indeed, it is "dissed" (disrespected) & is only "leased" by the students on a daily basis from 9:00 to 3:00. This linguistic practice is centrally implicated in the postulated guerrilla warfare at the school. With data from a predominantly African American high school in Washington, DC, the effects of this practice on African American academic achievement are documented. Several policy implications are also noted. 59 References. Adapted from the source document

  7. Mock Ebonics: Linguistic Racism in Parodies of Ebonics on the Internet

    Ronkin, Maggie; Karn, Helen E

    Journal of Sociolinguistics, 1999, 3, 3, Aug, 360-380

    This study describes & analyzes outgroup linguistic racism in parodies of Ebonics ("Mock Ebonics") that appeared on the Internet in the wake of the 18 Dec 1996 resolution of the Board of Education of the Oakland, California, Unified School District on improving the English-language skills of African-American students. The investigation covered 23 World Wide Web pages containing 270,188 words, from which nine pages containing 225,726 words were chosen for in-depth analysis. Drawing on a characterization of Mock Spanish, the analysis shows that Mock Ebonics is a system of graphemic-phonetic, grammatical, semantic, & pragmatic strategies for representing an outgroup's belief in the imperfection & inferiority of Ebonics & its users. It is shown how producers of Ebonics parody pages employ these strategies, which are common in speech stereotypes, to articulate an anti-Ebonics language ideology & shift the blame for the poor academic performance of African Americans from a racist society to learners & the community from which they come. 2 Tables, 1 Appendix, 36 References. Adapted from the source document

  8. The Ebonics Controversy: An Educational and Clinical Dilemma

    Seymour, Harry N; Abdulkarim, Lamya; Johnson, Valerie

    Topics in Language Disorders, 1999, 19, 4, Aug, 66-77

    In December 1996, the Oakland California School Board passed a resolution acknowledging the existence & legitimacy of Ebonics & proposed to use this nonstandard variety of English as a strategy for teaching Standard American English. The controversy that ensued was unprecedented in national scope & public hostility toward an educational policy advocated by a local school board. This controversy has important implications for both general & special education involving millions of African American students. In this article, the reasons & myths surrounding the Ebonics controversy are examined & recommendations are made for educating & diagnosing children whose primary dialect is Ebonics. 21 References. Adapted from the source document

  9. The Ebonics Controversy in My Backyard: A Sociolinguist's Experiences and Reflections

    Rickford, John R

    Journal of Sociolinguistics, 1999, 3, 2, May, 267-275

    Reflects on the 1996 Ebonics controversy in Oakland, CA, & personal participation in this controversy as a sociolinguist. The issue arose out of the Oakland School Board's resolution to recognize Ebonics as a primary language. The author was thrust into the controversy both because he was geographically close to the situation & because he was one of a handful of scholars who specialized in African American Vernacular English. After the controversy, the author fielded numerous requests for interviews, comments, e-mail exchanges, conference participation, & presentations before all manner of community groups. From this experience, several lessons were learned: (1) Linguists share more of a consensus on this issue than previously imagined. (2) The media privilege mainstream interpretations to the neglect of dissenting information. (3) There is a need to know more about the relation of Ebonics to education. It is concluded that the quality of participation by linguists in these debates will be determined by the depth of their knowledge & understanding. 16 References. D. Ryfe

  10. The Future of Englishes

    Crystal, David

    English Today, 1999, 15, 2(58), Apr, 10-20

    To clarify the developing diversity of English in terms of both linguistic theory & the empirical basis of theories of language change, notions of language family, hybrids, new Englishes, & world standards are examined with particular focus on their implications for change in English pedagogy. The crucial role of a political basis in the establishment of a language variety as a distinct named entity is stressed in reviewing the status of Ebonics & Scots, & grammatical & lexical English-Malay hybrids exemplify linguistic continua that are novel only in their present rapid emergence worldwide. The eventual development of a World Standard Spoken English to match the current World Standard Printed English is predicted in a future multidialectal world characterized by the existence of separate regional, national, & international dialects of English in many idiolects. Increasingly, learners of English as a second language must be prepared for both a world standard of intelligibility in communication & a staggering diversity of actual English usage to which they will unavoidably be exposed. 12 References. J. Hitchcock

  11. Challenges for Multicultural Education: Sociolinguistic Parallels between African American English and Haitian Creole

    Zephir, Flore

    Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 1999, 20, 2, 134-154

    An examination of how multicultural education has dealt with the needs & concerns of African Americans & Haitians. First discussed are well-publicized African American & Haitian educational events that demonstrate that the native languages of these two particular groups are not perceived as legitimate modes of expression worthy of being vehicles of instruction in the educational system. These include the King case in Ann Arbor, MI; the Ebonics issue in Oakland, CA; & the Haitian class action lawsuit in NY. Second, several educational indices that point to the lack of academic achievement on the part of these particular students are reviewed, thus persuasively suggesting that the schools are failing to provide them with a meaningful education that can prepare them for academic success. Third, the research conducted about the positive role that the native language plays in raising academic achievement is discussed, with attention to the integration of vernacular languages in school. Finally, in light of this research, it is argued that a comprehensive model of multicultural education, which places diversity at its core & which purports to reshape the power structures by advocating a liberatory or emancipatory pedagogy, needs to take into account language issues or more specifically Black language issues, in its conceptual & operational framework. 69 References. Adapted from the source document

  12. Comments on Geneva Napoleon Smitherman's "'Dat teacher be hollin at us'-What Is Ebonics?"

    TESOL Quarterly, 1999, 33, 1, spring, 136-139

    A correction is supplied to statistics cited in Geneva Napoleon Smitherman, "'Dat teacher be hollin' at us' - What Is Ebonics?" (1998) by Lynn Marie Glick in A Reader Reacts: only 12% of the African American students in the Oakland (CA) Unified School District were tracked during 1996-1997 in special education programs other than for physical disabilities, not 71% as reported by Smitherman. In The Author Responds, Smitherman corrects her article to read that 71% of the 1996-1997 special education students in the district were African American, whereas African Americans comprise only 53% of the overall student population. Other findings of African American students' relative reading deficits nationwide are cited, & attention is drawn to field tests of an Ebonics-based cross-cultural reading program by G. Simpkins, G. Holt, & C. Simpkins (1975) that show a gain in reading level four times greater than controls over a four-month period. 2 References. J. Hitchcock

  13. Ebonics and Public Awareness: Who Knows? Who Cares?

    Barnes, Sandra L

    Journal of Black Studies, 1998, 29, 1, Sept, 17-33

    Analyzes awareness of the Oakland, California, School Board's resolution concerning the status of Ebonics in its public schools, drawing on questionnaire data from 420 undergraduates at an ethnically diverse college in the southern US. Results indicate that student race, major, & choice in the 1996 presidential election increased their familiarity with Ebonics & the school board's decision; Anglo & African American students demonstrated the greatest awareness. Respondents with knowledge of Ebonics generally showed an understanding of the school board's decision. The presidential choice variable was a more significant determinant of student knowledge of Ebonics & the school board's resolution than was the race variable. 5 Tables, 27 References. J. W. Parker

  14. The Serious Side of Ebonics Humor

    Scott, Jerrie L C

    Journal of English Linguistics, 1998, 26, 2, June, 137-155

    Given that the Ebonics controversy, resulting from the Oakland Unified School District's resolution, has led to a special category of humor on the Internet & in the media in the form of jokes, cartoons, etc., this humor is analyzed into three types. The type referred to as "namecalling funnies" is indicated to demonstrate the linkage between language & other stereotypical personal attributes. The type called the "death-of-English funnies" is viewed from the angle of maintaining the integrity of all languages. The "code-switching funnies" focus on the different discourse rules for different languages/dialects. It is concluded that this humor reflects the need to expand knowledge that can be translated into educational policy, practice, & teacher training. 22 References. B. Gadalla

  15. Language Ideology and Dialect: Understanding the Oakland Ebonics Controversy

    Wolfram, Walt

    Journal of English Linguistics, 1998, 26, 2, June, 108-121

    The controversy surrounding the Oakland Unified School District resolution regarding Ebonics is discussed noting that the debate has emphasized the existence of beliefs & opinions about language & language diversity, has resulted in public misinformation about language variation & education, & has demonstrated the need to inform the public about these issues. Also, it is observed that the debates of the 1960s were apparently insufficient to overcome prevailing attitudes & practices. Issues noted in the debate were (1) the separate language issue, ie, whether Ebonics was a language or a dialect rather than simply a legitimate language system; (2) the source language(s) of Ebonics; (3) the genetic issue, the public's confusion of the historical linguistics term with biological predisposition; (4) the bilingual issue, revolving around the rights of African Americans in contrast to the rights of second-language learners; & (5) the teaching issue, confusion over learning Ebonics as opposed to respect for Ebonics. To dispel this confusion, it is suggested that it is the duty of the language professions to educate the teaching professionals, the students, & the public about these issues. 20 References. B. Gadalla

  16. The Anti-Ebonics Movement: "Standard"English Only

    Richardson, Elaine

    Journal of English Linguistics, 1998, 26, 2, June, 156-169

    The movement against Ebonics is examined, focusing on the current anti-Ebonics legislation that has arisen as a result of the debate over the Oakland Unified School District's 1996 Ebonics resolution & subsequent national discussion. Among the resolutions presented to the US House of Representatives are Peter King's H.Res. 28 (1/9 /97), which seeks to block funding for any program based on the premise that Ebonics is a legitimate language; & John Doolittle's H.J. Res. 37 (2/4/97), the English-only bill that seeks to discontinue federally funded bilingual education programs. In addition, the five states introducing or having passed anti-Ebonics legislation or that are working to keep Ebonics out of the country's classrooms are noted, including Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Florida, & California. It is concluded that this overview of anti-Ebonics policies & legislation indicates America's problems with inherent racism & social control & the general tenency toward a monolingual & anti-multicultural language & literacy education. 19 References. B. Gadalla

  17. Ebonics, King, and Oakland: Some Folk Don't Believe Fat Meat Is Greasy

    Smitherman, Geneva

    Journal of English Linguistics, 1998, 26, 2, June, 97-107

    A first-language speaker of Ebonics discusses some of her early school language learning experiences prior to the changes in US language policies from 1960 to 1980, reviews the King v. Ann Arbor decision & the Oakland school board resolution, & presents her suggestions for a national multilingual policy. Ebonics was a term coined in 1973 as a rejection of the cognitive-linguistic deficiency & social pathology model associated with Black English, against which black linguists in the 1960s, led by Sista Beryl Bailey who emphasized the similarity between various Black dialects & English-based Creoles, had sought to consolidate a new approach. In 1979 the King v. Ann Arbor judicial decision recognized Black English as legitimate, & mandated that the school district stop using the children's language to classify them as disabled. In 1996, the Oakland school board called for recognition of Ebonics as the primary language of its Black students, & originally called for its use to teach students Standard American English. To deal with these language issues, it is proposed that a national multilingual policy be developed that encourages (1) schooling in the language of wider communication, English, & foreign language; & (2) the preservation & enhancement of mother-tongue competence among all students, whatever their racial /language persuasion. 15 References. B. Gadalla

  18. Primary Documents on Ebonics

    Journal of English Linguistics, 1998, 26, 2, June, 170-179

    Five official policy statements fundamental to the Ebonics debate are reproduced: Oakland School Board Resolution on Ebonics (Original Version) (1996); OAKLAND School Board Resolution on Ebonics (Amended Version) (1996); Linguistic Society of American Resolution on the Oakland "Ebonics" Issue (1997); Policy Statement of the TESOL Board on African American Vernacular English (1997); & American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Position Paper on Social Dialects (no date provided). S. Novak

  19. Nobody's Listening: A Frame Analysis of the Ebonics Debate

    Bing, Janet M; Woodward, William

    The SECOL Review, 1998, 22, 1, spring, 1-20

    Social & racial issues underlying the national Ebonics debate are investigated using a frame analysis of articles, editorials, commentaries, & letters to the editor from a selection of politically diverse newspapers & periodicals. The analysis identified four frames of reference: (1) assimilation, (2) diversity, (3) linguist, & (4) rhetoric, with only 2 out of 103 articles failing to fit into these categories. Type of publication & race &/or profession of an article's author were found to be poor predictors of frame choice. It is concluded that when the writer's selection of a frame differs from that of their audience, the result is decreased communication, intensification of emotion, & cognitive dissonance on the part of the reader. The pervasive & consistent use of a relatively small number of frames found in the sample articles additionally suggests that the framing of issues can be used as a tool to manipulate or constrict public debate. 1 Appendix, 43 References. R. Meyers

  20. "Dat Teacher Be Hollin At Us"-What Is Ebonics?

    Smitherman, Geneva Napoleon

    TESOL Quarterly, 1998, 32, 1, spring, 139-143

    A brief historical, political, & systemic overview of Ebonics is provided, with applications to language planning policy & the teaching & learning process. The treatment of Black English Vernacular in the school system is contrasted prior to & after the Oakland, California, School Board resolution recognizing Ebonics as the primary language of its African American students. The history of Ebonics is traced to West African-European language mixtures (pidgins & creoles) as a result of the African slave trade. Ebonics is presented as a collection of various languages, with focus on US Ebonics. Examples of the Ebonics aspectual verb system, marking of iterativity, zero copula or copula deletion, & use of stress & contextual information to convey time are explained. The ritualized insult tradition (signification/playin the dozens/snappin) is described based on analysis of an example. Implications for teaching English to Ebonics speakers are briefly introduced. 22 References. M. Castillo

  21. Ebonics: A Case Study in Language, Power, and Pedagogy

    Murray, Denise

    TESOL Quarterly, 1998, 32, 1, spring, 144-146

    Issues surrounding the Ebonics debate are discussed along the axes of language, power, & pedagogy. It is noted that these issues are not confined to African American language use in the US, but are relevant to language instruction throughout the world. Ebonics is viewed as a valid language, & its relation to Standard American English (SAE) is discussed from the perspective that "acceptability" of a language is not based on inherent linguistic factors but rather on political power & wealth. It is shown that power is retained (in one facet) through the continued acceptance of SAE. Questions of power in different aspects of language are being addressed through language planning, language learning, & the globalization of English. It is suggested that education focus on teaching SAE to Ebonics speakers by building on language structures they already know. 12 References. M. Castillo

  22. A Recommended Reading List for Teachers of Students Who Speak Ebonics

    Hoover, Mary Rhodes

    The Journal of Negro Education, 1998, 67, 1, winter, 43-47

    Works related to teaching reading, writing, & language arts to Ebonics speakers are listed. K. Burch

  23. Ebonics and Academic Achievement: The Role of the Counselor

    Harper, Frederick D; Braithwaite, Kisha; LaGrange, Ricardo D

    The Journal of Negro Education, 1998, 67, 1, winter, 25-34

    Regarding the language development of Ebonics-speaking African American youth, it is contended that school counselors must assume the role of consultants to & collaborators with teachers & students toward the fulfillment of two objectives: (1) increasing & improving students' use of Standard English without depreciating their culturally based dialect & (2) improving the teacher-student relationship in the language learning process. 1 Table, 18 References. Adapted from the source document

  24. African American Education and the Ebonics Issue

    Gopaul-McNicol, Sharon-ann

    The Journal of Negro Education, 1998, 67, 1, winter, 2-4

    An introductory editorial epitomizes the content of contributions to a special issue of The Journal of Negro Education intended to clarify current controversy over the relevance of Ebonics to the education of African Americans. Six positions are advocated: (1) proficiency in Standard English is a central goal; (2) instruction in appropriate code-switching between the standard & Ebonics is needed for African American students; (3) Ebonics is naturally learned, effective, & to be preferred in certain situations; (4) negative teacher attitudes regarding the use of Ebonics are harmful to African American learners; (5) new assessment tools must be developed to detect the cognitive abilities of speakers of nonstandard dialects; & (6) parents, teachers, & others involved in education must take care not to impose a bias on students. J. Hitchcock

  25. The Psychoeducational Assessment of Ebonics Speakers: Issues and Challenges

    Gopaul-McNicol, Sharon-ann; Reid, Grace; Wisdom, Cecilia

    The Journal of Negro Education, 1998, 67, 1, winter, 16-24

    Traditional standardized psycho-educational assessments do not adequately consider, nor do they fully account for or adapt to, the nonstandard dialects & cultural experiences that certain test takers bring to the evaluation experience. The assessment of African American Ebonics-speaking students using such tests presents particular challenges. This article focuses on the specific limitations of these assessments for Ebonics speakers, & describes alternative measures that yield more accurate results for these students. Further, the article highlights the implications of traditional & nontraditional assessment approaches for psycho-educational test developers, evaluators, educators, & students. 45 References. Adapted from the source document

  26. Ebonics Is Not Black English

    Smith, Ernie; Crozier, Karen

    The Western Journal of Black Studies, 1998, 22, 2, summer, 109-116

    On 18 Dec 1996, the Oakland (California) Unified School District Board officially recognized Ebonics as an African language system, & not a dialect of English. A great deal of confusion resulted less from the abstruse wording of the resolution & more from the popular press & media's misapprehension & use of the appellation "Ebonics" as being a synonym for the phrase or appellation "Black English." As an African-centered term that legitimizes the language of black Americans as an African-based linguistic system, rather than allowing the deviancy model to persist, the true origin & meaning of the term Ebonics is traced here. It is posited that inherent in the very use of the phrase Black English there is a tacit inference that the language being discussed is a variant of English & hence that there is, ipso facto, a genetic kinship between Black English & the German language family to which English belongs. It is contended that, because Ebonics was not coined as a synonym for the appellation Black English, those who use it as such reveal an ignorance of the term's origin & meaning that is so profound that their confusion is pathetic. 51 References. Adapted from the source document

  27. Ebonics and Educational Policy: Some Issues for the Next Millennium

    Taylor, Orlando L

    The Journal of Negro Education, 1998, 67, 1, winter, 35-42

    The recent debate over the Oakland, California, public schools' Ebonics proposal attracted considerable national attention, yet the ethnically identifiable language of African Americans - & what to do about it - has long been the subject of controversy. This article discusses historical & contemporary issues surrounding this debate. Chief among the former is whether teachers should negate Ebonics or use it as a bridge for teaching Standard English. Chief among the latter is the need for schools to identify strategies for teaching Standard English to Ebonics speakers that validate these students' language & culture. 21 References. Adapted from the source document

  28. Sociolinguistic and Ideological Dynamics of the Ebonics Controversy

    Wright, Richard L

    The Journal of Negro Education, 1998, 67, 1, winter, 5-15

    A critical language analysis of the Oakland Unified School District's 1996 resolution on Ebonics focuses on the form, content, & function of the resolution's explicit text semantics, separate & distinct from public statements made in its defense. It reveals that the resolution frames Ebonics as a non-English-related language system, with associated implications for English as a second language funding as well as the unintended promotion & perpetuation of extant sociolinguistic stereotypes. The resulting controversy was due to ideological commitments, which often act as constraints on the exercise of intellectual responsibility. 31 References. Adapted from the source document

  29. Do This Be English? The Ebonics Furor in the US

    Kadesch, Margot C

    Modern English Teacher, 1997, 6, 4, Oct, 13-17

    The case of the Ebonics resolution passed in Oakland, California, on December 18, 1996, by the School Board is considered. The resolution intended to develop a program to instruct African American students in Ebonics, a genetically based African-American form of English. This language, which has its roots in West African languages, is spoken primarily in the inner cities. It is characterized by syntactic & phonological differences from English, as well as differences in inflection & nonverbal communicative forms. Pedagogic issues related to Ebonics include a lack of research which certifies that existing programs actually are effective & the fact that program developers may not understand its structure or may proceed on faulty assumptions. It is concluded that debates over Ebonics may ultimately be less about linguistics than about questions of class & race in American classrooms. 4 References. D. M. Smith

  30. Recent Debate over "Ebonics" in the United States

    Huang, Xiaozhao

    New Language Planning Newsletter, 1997, 12, 1, Sept, 1-3

    The controversy surrounding the Oakland (California) School Board's 1996 recognition of African American Vernacular English (AAVE), ie, "ebonics," as a separate language rather than a variety of English is discussed. William Labov & Wendal A. Harris (1986), in support of the notion of AAVE as a separate language, claimed that AAVE & White Vernacular English (WVE) were diverging, due mainly to the social segregation of AAVE speakers in large cities. However, a study conducted by Lawrence M. Davis & Huang (1995) showed that AAVE & WVE were actually converging, both syntactically & phonologically. Labov & Harris's assertion that using AAVE to teach Standard American English (SAE) to African American children can improve the learning process is considered problematic; if social segregation, not education, is indeed the main cause of divergence between AAVE & WVE, then only actions directed toward solving this societal problem can guarantee that African American children will learn to use SAE proficiently. 20 References. J. Paul

  31. Double Standards

    Nunberg, Geoffrey

    Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, 1997, 15, 3, Aug, 667-675

    A retrospective discussion of the Ebonics confusion that arose in Dec 1996, the issues linguists confronted, & how the event was reported in the media. The media's (mis)representation of the issues & linguistic facts are discussed: in particular, the African genetic basis of Ebonics & the language/dialect dichotomy, which lead linguistics to impose a double standard on the characterization of African American Vernacular English, & hence alienate the public. Linguists argued that African American Vernacular English is not genetically related to languages of Africa & is a nonstandard dialect of English, but maintained that African American Vernacular English is a language with its own regularities & not merely sloppy speech. The public had difficulty understanding these arguments. It is concluded that linguists ought to be better prepared to defend the language/dialect distinction in a nonprofessional setting. S. Godjevac

  32. On Becoming Bilingual

    Lovett, Marilyn; Neely, Joneka

    The Journal of Black Psychology, 1997, 23, 3, Aug, 242-244

    Perceptions of Black English (Ebonics) vs marketplace English (as opposed to Standard English, a term that invalidates other dialects of English & the speakers of those dialects) by Black Americans are discussed. Studies suggest black adults view marketplace English more positively than Black English, whereas black youths tend to perceive Black English more positively. The importance of marketplace English as a survival tool in the US, due to the perpetuation of institutional racism, is acknowledged; however, it is recommended that black adults recognize the legitimacy of Ebonics among African American youth so that they can communicate within the dominant culture as well as their own. 4 References. J. Paul

  33. Similarities between the Debates on Ebonics and Jamaican

    Pryce, Jean T

    The Journal of Black Psychology, 1997, 23, 3, Aug, 238-241

    It is noted that in Jamaica, as in the US, it is necessary that Standard English be mastered in order to achieve success in business or in any traditional occupation. In both countries literacy rates in Standard English are low, & there is controversy surrounding the status of both Ebonics & Jamaican as legitimate languages. The main difference between the situations in Jamaica & the US is that, whereas in the US the dominant culture that has determined that speaking Standard English is a prerequisite for success is also the majority culture, in Jamaica, it was a minority culture that established standards the dominant culture still ascribes to. 5 References. J. Paul

  34. Moving beyond Resistance: Ebonics and African American Youth

    Smitherman, Geneva; Cunningham, Sylvia

    The Journal of Black Psychology, 1997, 23, 3, Aug, 227-232

    The controversy over Ebonics & the educational & social crises of black youths are discussed. In order to help black youth overcome their resistance to learning, it is recommended that black leaders (1) recognize that language is the foundation of individual & group identity construction, (2) teach black English as it relates to black identity & heritage, & (3) critically examine the history, sociopolitical, & sociolinguistic uses of both Black & Standard English; this would form a basis for understanding what is considered standard & how it became the standard representative of all people in the US. It is hoped that this approach will provide black youths with an understanding of the differences between languages & the value of language & culture, & thus, pride & confidence in themselves & their language. 14 References. J. Paul

  35. The Ebonics Controversy

    Williams, Robert L

    The Journal of Black Psychology, 1997, 23, 3, Aug, 208-214

    The origins of Ebonics & the controversy surrounding the Oakland, California, school board's decision to recognize Ebonics as a legitimate language are discussed. The term was formed by combining ebony & phonics. According to the pidgin/Creole theory, African slaves of different ethnic origins developed a pidgin to communicate with each other; this pidgin is the source of Creole. Ebonics developed when Creole became Englishized. According to the African retention theory, "Ebonics is the African American's linguistic memory of Africa applied to English words" (Smith, Ernie, 1997). In order to improve African American children's acquisition of Standard English & reading skills, the use of Ebonics in the classroom as a bridge to Standard English is recommended. The results of three studies that support this approach are presented. 7 References. Adapted from the source document

  36. Ebonics: An Evaluation

    Todd, Loreto

    English Today, 1997, 13, 3(51), July, 13-17

    The Ebonics movement - the attempt to improve the English language skills of African-American pupils in Oakland, California - is described & evaluated. The original proposal suggested that Ebonics (African-American Vernacular English), the home dialect spoken by the majority of black children in Oakland, be used as a medium of instruction for children failing in the main stream system. Initially conceptualized as comparable to the bilingual programs, two controversial assumptions were later modified: that African language systems are genetically based & that African Americans have retained a West & Niger-Congo African linguistic structure in the substratum of their speech. Other issues included that there are many varieties of American Black English (not a single describable model), African languages can be very different, & not all black children should be taught through Ebonics, but for those who have not progressed, this should be a viable alternative offered by a school administration responsible for the education of these children. 6 References. B. Gadalla

  37. TESOL Speaks on Ebonics

    Murray, Denise E

    TESOL Matters, 1997, 7, 3, June-July, 1,22

    The position developed by Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) supporting the use of African-American Vernacular English, ie, Ebonics, for pedagogical purposes is published & explained. The positive correlation between valuing a learner's home language or dialect & students' achievement in a second language or dialect is stated. Additionally, it is held that building on learners' prior linguistic knowledge & elucidating dialect differences are sound practices for teaching a second dialect. 2 References. E. Emery

  38. Ebonics and ASL: Teaching Our Children the Codes of Power

    Lucas, Ceil

    Perspectives in Education and Deafness, 1997, 15, 5, May-June, 12-13,18

    Ebonics (African American Vernacular English) & American Sign Language (ASL) are frequently misapprehended codes that should be respected & accounted for in the education of their users. Competence in Standard English is important for black & deaf children; metalinguistic awareness both of the child's familiar code & of Standard English is essential to English mastery. 7 References. E. Taylor

  39. Ebonics, King's English and Straight Talking

    Lo Bianco, Joseph

    Australian Language Matters, 1997, 5, 2, Apr-June, 1-2

    The role of English dialects in the education of minority children is reviewed with particular reference to the African American case. The interest in the linguistic study of Black English in the 1960s, followed by the legal requirement in 1979 to use Black English in the schools in Ann Arbor, MI (following litigation) are described. The 1996 decision of the Oakland School Board to use Ebonics (Black English) in the classroom & to classify it as a language separate from English renewed focus on the status of minority languages in US classrooms. Although the Oakland Board eventually backed away from its separate language approach, several issues were exposed for consideration by all educational systems: (1) which dialect should be the explicit object of instruction, (2) what varieties should be included in the curriculum, & (3) which language should be used in minority language debates between bidialectal education proponents & opponents, & between administrators & policy makers. B. Gadalla

  40. Understanding Ebonics: A Teacher's Viewpoint

    Graham, Graylen Todd

    American Language Review, 1997, 1, 2, Mar-Apr, 10-11

    It is noted that African Americans who speak Black English are often viewed as ignorant & are unjustly penalized, particularly in academic & business circles. The history of Black English is reviewed & attitudes of African Americans toward learning Standard English are discussed. It is estimated that 80% of black Americans speak non-Standard English; it is claimed that this is because many African Americans who master Standard English feel a deep sense of betrayal toward the black community. It is recommended that, in order to succeed at teaching Standard English to speakers of black dialect, teachers should validate, for themselves & for their students, the complex structure of Black English & show a positive attitude toward & respect for the dialect. 3 References. J. Paul

  41. A Linguist Looks at the Ebonics Debate

    Fillmore, Charles J

    TESOL Matters, 1997, 7, 1, Feb-Mar, 13-14,16

    A discussion of Ebonics notes that a major debate is in progress as a result of the Oakland (California) Unified School District's proposal to treat students' primary language as similar to but different from school English - & therefore subject to comparative treatment in school - & that, consequently, teachers must be trained in these language differences. The Ebonics issue resulted from teachers' inability to understand students, students' poor performance in school, & schools teaching that African American Vernacular English is wrong. Attitudes toward African American Vernacular English include the position that it is an imperfectly learned approximation of English, it is a dialect of American English related to Southern speech, or - although superficially English - it is structured on one or more West African languages. It has also been referred to as "slang." The Oakland resolution views African American Vernacular English as a primary language that must be translated into school English, mediated by the school system. It is noted that, rather than opinion - which is demonstrably diverse - empirical evidence should resolve these issues. The original intent of the Oakland Board to avoid demeaning the children & to provide the means for further learning has been lost in unscientific rhetoric. It is concluded that the Board should focus on resolving the misunderstanding about the issues that have arisen in the community. B. Gadalla

  42. Among the New Words

    Glowka, Wayne; Lester, Brenda K

    American Speech, 1997, 72, 3, fall, 289-313

    A compilation of neologisms not found in dictionaries that are included in the publication Words of the Year (1996) compiled by the Newsletter of the American Dialect Society. Ebonics is identified as the most controversial entry yielding a productive group of words ending in -onics. Words & phrases incorporating, eg, drive-by, friendly, & -gate are highlighted, & it is shown that the Internet has provided to be a productive environment for new words. A list of neologisms is presented along with definition, sentence function, & reference to date & location of origin. M. Castillo

  43. An Essay: When in Rome Be a Roman

    Oppenheimer, Max, Jr

    Geolinguistics, 1997, 23, 60

    It is suggested that Ebonics is a problem both linguistically & politically & that what is required for its solution is a reprogramming of the attitudes of its speakers. Parallels are drawn to personal experiences of language learning & of taking pride in clear, precise, correct, aesthetic German, French, Spanish, & Russian. Further parallels are noted between sports & language skills as regards the importance of attitude & discipline. L. Lagerquist

  44. Ebonics: Plague or Cure-All?

    Hvidt, Patricia Anne

    Angles on the English Speaking World, 1997, 10, 37-52

    A historical overview of the debate regarding Ebonics is presented. Although California's institutions had employed Ebonics in teaching Standard English to African American students since the early 1980s, controversy arose when the Oakland school board offered a genetically based description of Ebonics & supported Ebonics-based instruction for African American children; subsequent efforts to change the language of the Oakland school board's Ebonics resolution are discussed. Despite the attempt to draw connections between Black Vernacular English & African American culture, it is argued that Ebonics is the product of the sociocultural alienation of urban African Americans; consequently, movements to educate African American students in segregated classrooms must be abandoned. The Oakland school board's recommendation for hiring additional African American instructors & mentors is perceived as a feasible alternative to segregated education or Ebonics-based instruction. 1 Appendix, 18 References. J. W. Parker

  45. TESOL Board Reaffirms Policy on Language Varieties in Reference to Ebonics

    Perspectives, 1997, 23, 2, fall, 83-84

    A discussion of the position held by the Board of Directors of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) on the educational implications of language varieties. This issue was raised by the furor over the December, 1996 decision of the Oakland, California School Board to recognize Ebonics as an alternative language. Generally, TESOL supports efforts to recognize the diversity of World Englishes, & therefore issued a statement that supports the school board's position. This statement was based on research that showed that Ebonics is a distinctive, rule-governed linguistic system. TESOL has gone further to encourage educators to recognize the role of children's cultural & social backgrounds in fostering better learning. Carolyn Temple Adger's "Issues and Implications of English Dialectics for Teaching English as a Second Language," a paper commissioned by TESOL, is recommended to teachers interested in learning more about the educational implications of language variety. D. Ryfe

  46. The Niger-Kordofanian Linguistic Bases of African American Ebonics: A Creole Language

    Borishade, Adetokunbo K

    The Western Journal of Black Studies, 1994, 18, 1, spring, 1-10

    Comparisons between the linguistic structures of Niger-Kongo languages of West Africa & the structural features of Ebonics ("Black English") are explored. Prior literature on this subject is briefly reviewed. Borrowing from the work of Molefi K. Asante & Kariamu Welsh Asante (1985), a history of the relationship between "pidgin" Black English & West African languages & a few linguistic comparisons are presented. Based on this analysis, it is contended that Ebonics, or Black English, is a bona fide creole language. 3 Figures, 13 References. D. M. Smith

  47. Ebonics and Reading

    Jones, C Dalton

    Journal of Black Studies, 1979, 9, 4, June, 423-448

    Discussed is the relationship between language & reading, & what problems Ebonics may present in the development of reading skills. The goal is a progressive development of proficiency in the use of reading skills for Ebonics-speaking children. Reading processes reviewed include: perception, information, organization, cognitive factors in rule-learning, & the relationship between language & learning. Crucial to the discussion is the premise that Ebonics very closely resembles Eng, & is not a second lang. Examination of style-switching, where Ebonics speakers can comprehend Mainstream American English (MAE) yet do not produce these forms, suggests that children who can readily change registers are the more proficient readers. Recommended is focusing on a phonics-based reading curriculum & not discouraging a child's production system from Ebonics to MAE & back again. The use of Ebonics texts in reading instruction is also evaluated. Success in reading entails sustained practice & proper motivation in order to achieve rapid & fluent comprehension. R. Minerd

  48. A Critique of the Literature on Ebonics

    DeFrantz, Anita P

    Journal of Black Studies, 1979, 9, 4, June, 383-396

    A review of the literature of Ebonics was made in order to determine the information available & its credibility. The review covered the years 1865 to 1975 & listed over 75 informative documents. The linguistic forms of Ebonics were broken down into phonological (vowels, cons), & syntactical & lexical (Ns, Vs, etc) categories. Most of the features were traceable to West African langs. Ebonics appears to be spoken by individuals who retain some features of their West African linguistic heritage. Thus, Ebonics characteristics are considered evidence of the continuity of West African linguistic features, demonstrating cultural transmission from West Africa to African-Americans. 2 Tables. R. Minerd

  49. It Ain't What You Say, It's the Way You Say It: Exercises for Teaching Mainstream American English to Ebonics-Speaking Children

    Smith, Brenda

    Journal of Black Studies, 1979, 9, 4, June, 489-493

    Ebonics speakers have outnumbered Mainstream American English (MAE) speakers by ten to one in the black community after the post-Emancipation period. Efforts to teach MAE to Ebonics speakers have generally failed. Instead, children should be introduced to the interferences existing between MAE & Ebonics through the use of structured exercises. The goal is bidialectal speakers. The emphasis is on the uniqueness of each ethnic group & the recognition of their linguistic patterns & forms. The purpose of the exercises is to teach the Ebonics speaker to discriminate between the two dialects, & then produce the MAE form. In order to do this, the instructor must have a knowledge of phonological, syntactic, & semantic characteristics of both Ebonics & MAE. Letting the Ebonics speaker know that there is nothing wrong with his language is important. Second-lang/-dialect didactics have proved to be more successful in teaching Ebonics speakers MAE. R. Minerd

  50. Ebonics: A Legitimate System of Oral Communication

    Wofford, Jean

    Journal of Black Studies, 1979, 9, 4, June, 367-382

    Provided is research evidence to clarify & demonstrate the unique features & usages of Ebonics - a linguistic system utilized consistently by 80% of black Americans. Ebonics is a fully-formed system in its own right as evidenced by research. Education programs continue to be a major handicap for black children because of the lack of adequate information about the system & the insensitivity of educators toward black children - particularly those of low-income. Incorporation of Ebonics as an integral part of future education programs for black children should be treated as a priority. Until Ebonics is recognized & incorporated in the total social system of which black Americans are members, myths & false assumptions about black American language abilities will thrive & deficit theories matastasize; mislabeling, misdiagnosis, inappropriate treatment, & poor academic achievement among black children will be manifested. Studies are cited which demonstrate how Ebonics speakers are stigmatized educationally, socially, economically, & politically. AA

  51. Teaching Mainstream American English: Similarities and Differences with Speakers of Ebonics and Speakers of Foreign Languages

    Johnson, Kenneth R

    Journal of Black Studies, 1979, 9, 4, June, 411-422

    Use of Ebonics by black students has made teaching Mainstream American English (MAE) difficult & controversial. Since on-the-spot corrections have proved fruitless, teaching MAE as a foreign language is suggested. This technique would include contrasting phonological & grammatical features between the two dialects. The differences between teaching MAE to Ebonics speakers as opposed to foreign-lang speakers are discussed, & some difficulties teachers would encounter using this method are outlined; the greatest problem is defined as poverty - both economic & intellectual. A. Fagot

  52. Ebonics and Public Law 94-142

    Seymour, Harry N; Seymour, Charlena M

    Journal of Black Studies, 1979, 9, 4, June, 449-468

    Public Law 94-142, the Education of All Handicapped Children Act, has profound implications for the education of black children. Two fundamental dimensions of the law are that all children regardless of their handicapping condition be entitled to an education & that children not be subjected to assessment tests that disregard their cultural & lang backgrounds. As documented by court litigations of the past decade, inordinantly large numbers of black children have been diagnosed as retarded or slow learners. Many of these children are misdiagnosed because of inappropriate assessment instruments & lack of sensitivity to & knowledge about cultural & language differences on the part of teachers & evaluators. Black childrens' speech & language differ significantly from mainstream American Eng - enough to bias standardized test scores based on either verbal comprehension or verbal production. An aggressive implementation of Public Law 94-142 requires that: (1) special education services be expanded to include many black children previously excluded; (2) testing & evaluation be nondiscriminatory; (3) each child have an individualized program; (4) each child be educated in the least restrictive environment; (5) due process of law be given to parents & guardians; & (6) confidentiality of data & information be maintained. Modified AA

  53. The Symbolism of Ebonics: I'd Rather Switch than Fight

    Seymour, Harry N; Seymour, Charlena M

    Journal of Black Studies, 1979, 9, 4, June, 397-410

    Ebonics is a variety of English spoken by many black Americans. Its existence is a reality that must be understood & accepted by those charged with the responsibility of educating black children. Such understanding can emerge from recognition that Ebonics is a rule-governed & systematic variety of Eng. With this knowledge comes acceptance that transcends the superficial & ephemeral symbolism of Ebonics as one of many characteristics of "blackness." If Ebonics were understood & accepted, educators could no longer penalize children for using speech & language patterns indigenous to their community. Moreover, Ebonics can constitute a foundation upon which lang may be nurtured in such a way that blacks acquire facility to style switch, ie, effectively use both Ebonics & mainstream American Eng. AA