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Subject:Re: EBONICS ONCE AND FOR ALL From:Stephen Arrants <arrants -at- BRIGHTWARE -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 20 Dec 1996 12:05:05 -0800
>From: Vikki Shine[SMTP:shinev -at- STD -dot- TERADYNE -dot- COM]
>Sent: Friday, December 20, 1996 11:11 AM
>To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
>Subject: EBONICS ONCE AND FOR ALL
>A quote taken from the e-mail message sent by Wayne Douglass from
>Lori Olszewski, Chronicle East Bay Bureau...
>"Linguists recognize that Ebonics has origins in the West and
> Niger-Congo African languages spoken by slaves. It has distinct
> grammar and syntax patterns tied to those roots, such as the
> absence of forms of the verb ``to be.'' "
>Have the slaves not been freed? To want to create a separate
>course/language or whatever; to make an exception because of African
>heritage. Come on. I know this is a tech writers forum; but we write the
>accepted language in America.
Well, it isn't a separate course of language, just a recognition that
the students operate with a different dialect of English. The proposal
use both Ebonics and Standard English in the classroom, and to bring the
students up to a common level of Standard English.
>This is the nineties; while in "Rome, do what the Romans do." A separate
>language, I think not. A common language is the key to breaking down
>It appears to be me that the real problem is taking time to learn the
>language properly, whether it be at school, or more importantly at home
>where the language is learned first. Let's move on.
It isn't a separate langauge, but more a dialect. No one is talking
about creating separate, Ebonics-only-and-only-Ebonics classes. The need
is to bring the students up to a common level of spoken/written Standard
I think that the school board recognizes that a common language is
important--that's why they're proposing this course of action.
Personal aside.....I grew up in Northern Quebec, and didn't learn
English until I was in grammar school. We learned by the teachers
translating our French
back to us as English, and insisting that we repeat what they'd said. If
we used a French word or phrase, we didn't get marked down for it, just
the conversation moved on. Now, the English I speak is quite
understandable to Americans, though I do have the odd Canadianism thrown
I don't think it has hurt me in my career.
Folks understand what I say, even if I don't use the words or phrases or
constructions they do. I think most of us can understand what is being
said by a speaker of Ebonics (judging from the samples I've seen in the
papers down here in the California Bay area).