Re: Ebonics

Subject: Re: Ebonics
From: John Kohl <sasjqk -at- UNX -dot- SAS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 20 Dec 1996 15:47:31 GMT

At 07:48 AM 12/20/96 -0600, dsbailey -at- ingr -dot- com wrote:
>Has anyone been following the news recently
>about the stir "Ebonics" has caused? Seems
>some left-wingers in California want to recognize
>what many right-wingers call "bad English" as
>an official language or dialect, called Ebonics.
>Since Ebonics seems to be spoken primarily
>by middle-to-lower class Blacks, the stir has
>taken a partially-racial bent.

>Does this notion, Ebonics, seem legitimate
>to you guys? Since we're all TechCommies,
>I think we'd have a unique viewpoint on this.

>Think they'll ever advertise for Tech Writers
>fluent in Ebonics? LOL

>dsbailey -at- ingr -dot- com

I think it is legitimate to inform educators and the general public that
"Black English" (as it is commonly, though not so accurately, referred
to) should not be regarded as ungrammatical or as an indication of lower
intelligence. It has its own grammar and is entirely consistent. It
simply is not the dialect of the social group that is in power in this
country. Unless I misunderstood, proponents of Ebonics are not saying
that speakers of Black English should not be taught to speak and write
the "standard" (i.e., accepted by those in power) American English
dialect. I think everyone recognizes that in order to get ahead in this
country, you pretty much have to speak and write the language of the
"ruling" majority (although that language may be Spanish in some parts
of the country!)--unless you want to succeed only within a particular
linguistic community.

Some people apparently feel that "Ebonics" is just a ploy that educators
are using to get additional government funding. Allegedly, Ebonics
proponents want speakers of Black English to be classified as non-native
speakers of English. Then the school districts could get ESL (English
as a Second Language) funding, presumably to devote more resources to
teaching "standard English" to those Black English speakers. Well, I
wouldn't judge educators harshly for trying to get more money in order
to better serve their student population. In my days as a teaching
assistant, I taught many students who were extremely bright, but who
were not doing well academically, mainly because they had not mastered
the standard American-English dialect. If more teachers recognized the
differences between the two dialects rather than just dismissing one
dialect as incorrect and ungrammatical, they'd be better able to teach
students to speak/write the standard dialect.

John Kohl
(expressing my personal viewpoint only)

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