What is Ebonics? Is it a language or not? Ebonics, referred to as black English, is a

language with clearly evident African American roots. It has been found that, when

learning English, African-Americans adapted the language using some of the structure

and rules of their own native tongue. This Black English has carried on through slavery

and then freedom for hundreds of years. Though often incorrectly defined as a language,

it really is a nonstandard dialect spoken in many homes in the inner cities of America.

Ebonics is not a separate language, but a slightly different form of another

language which is English. Ebonics is vastly different from a real foreign language such

as Japanese, Italian, or Russian. Japanese, for example, has a completely different

alphabet, sentence structure, words, and sounds than English; while Ebonics basically

uses the same alphabet, words and sounds as English. The only difference between

Ebonics and English is that some pronunciations of words, spelling, and grammar are

slightly different.

Ebonics is a dialect. People from all over the United States speak the same

language, English, but different dialects, compare the New Yorkan to the Chicagoan, or

compare Southerners way of speaking to Bostonians. Ultimately, Ebonics speaking

individuals can understand English speaking individuals and vice versa. In the United

States, many people of different ethnic groups have a language or dialect spoken at home

which was passed down through the generations. Ebonics is one of these dialects.

The teaching of Ebonics which was intended to reach out to black students,

actually holds black youth back. Educators say that others who have perfected standard

English will have the competitive edge over Ebonic speaking black students. In the real

world, companies will preferably hire individuals who have mastered the standard

language of society. For example, two applicants are equally qualified for a specific job,

but one speaks perfect English, while the other speaks Ebonics or any other form of

nonstandard English. Who will get the job? The answer is simple. The applicant who

speaks perfect English will be hired because the person's means of communication is

much more valued and effective in American society.

Ebonics, if needed, just as a teaching tool to help instruct the student in standard

English. First, the teacher must realize that a student's dialect does not suggest anything

profound about his or her intellect, and also given the proper motivation, anyone has the

ability to alter or add to a dialect without a considerable amount of effort. If Ebonics can

be used effectively in helping a child learn standard English easier and faster then it

should be used. But, if Ebonics only hinders the process of learning standard English,

then it should be put aside and more effective means should be applied.

Modern technology has eradicated many of our regional and local dialects. People

move around more, which makes for a blending of accents and vocabularies. Television,

radio and the movies have all done their part to equalize the language. As a consequence,

we have lost dialects that will never return, such as the way English was spoken around

the turn of the century. But despite centuries of active effort, Ebonics has not faded away,

and it does not appear likely that it will.

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