If one actually researches the high concentration of specific tribes in geographically different places and then looks at how African language evolved in the Americas...one notices, for example, the Gullah dialect of the Carolinas shares similar structure yet is simultaneously divergent from patterns and special words in Creole or Patois. Ebonics salvages cultural integrity from the European Wreck and honors our ancestors.

Ebonics is an attempt by African-Americans to remember the African Holocaust and keep alive the tongues of our ancestors.
In this time of cultural assimilation where to be politically correct means to all be the same, Ebonics encourages the embrace of non-conformity.
Flagrant denigration of Ebonics is a demand by European-Americans that we deny our roots, our mother tongue, our ancestors and our curious ability to survive.

Ebonics is actually a method for teaching Standard English to children who speak Black English. It is considered to be a form of ESL. The goal of Ebonics is to make teachers aware that children who speak Black English are using a different grammatical structure, which causes misunderstanding, and allows teachers to use the childrens knowledge of Black English as an aid in teaching Standard English. Children who learn Standard English through Ebonics are bilingual.

Ebonics is a slang (and on the verge of derogatory) term for the dialect of generally the lower income black population of urban areas. Notice I said "generally". This is a stereotypical term, and therefore cannot be used as an absolute to describe a multitude of people.

This dialect is not necessarily a sign of lack of education; people can choose how they speak. I agree that dialects are spread culturally, but they are not transmitted genetically. Also, this dialect is not derived from African dialects; it is derived from the South. The first members of the black population of the United States were brought to the country as slaves or workers, and they were almost exclusively enslaved in the South.

I would like to add that I am not black (in case somebody thinks I'm trying to start a race riot.

Black Vernacular English or as it is often called, African American Vernacular English (AAVE), is fundamentally a spoken language. In fact, it is several distinct dialects, encompassing the vernacular speech of blacks in the United States, the Caribbean, Britain, and elsewhere. Each of these black vernacular languages emerged within a particular racial and cultural context. Most significantly, the roots of Black Vernacular English lie in the experience of slavery and in the cultural collision between a multitude of African languages and an English-speaking dominant culture. It has been the subject of increased attention and occasional controversy since the 1960s.

The initial evaluation of Black Vernacular English was that is was merely an imperfectly learned approximation of "real" English, differing from it because the speakers were careless and lazy and didn't "follow the rules." It was seen as dialect, in the deprecating use of the word, or slang. The hypothesis was that Black children were "linguistically deprived," that they were either not exposed to the English language as much as other children or that the language they were exposed to was in some way vastly inferior and didn't allow them to develop linguistically as they should have.

Initial research confirmed the faulty hypothesis because researchers failed to take into account situational factors. They gathered data from interviewing young black schoolchildren. Researchers talked to children in ways that intimidated them; the children were, of course, much less responsive, preferring to give as little information as possible or simply to remain silent.

Later, more valid research indicated that black children did not have any kind of linguistic disability. Subsequent research involved gather data from children in a more relaxed setting with interviewers whom they would feel more comfortable with. This confirmed that black children had linguistic capabilities equivalent to their white peers, though there were distinct differences between their respective dialects.

There is debate about whether Black Vernacular English developed from a creole, but most linguists believe that it is probably a post-creole continuum.

Black English (or Black Vernacular English) has grammatical characteristics similar to other English based creoles, such as the English creole spoken in parts of the Dominican Republic that still retain a population of ex-slaves from the US. There exists a continuum between Black Vernacular English and standard English, as usually occurs with post-creoles and their "parent" languages. Individuals have large ranges of variance between their ethnic dialect and standard English.

Black Vernacular English is often unintelligible to speakers of standard English. Cross-cultural misunderstanding, arising from wrong assumptions, often occurs when a speaker of standard English encounters Black Vernacular English. The majority of English speakers tend to think Black Vernacular English, apart from the special slang, it is simply an impoverished version of English with a lot of grammatical mistakes.

There is a difference between making grammatical mistakes in Standard English and speaking correctly in a different variety of the language, one with a slightly different grammar, as is the case with Black Vernacular English which indeed has a regular, systematic grammar of its own.

An excellent example of this is the deletion of the copular verb 'to be'. One might say 'He rich' instead of 'He is rich'; and 'Dey ugly' for 'They are ugly', and so on. At first glance, deletion seems somewhat random, but there is nothing careless about this; there is a grammatical rule governing deletion, and it's actually rather complex to state. A brief version is:

In African-American Vernacular English you may omit forms of the copular verb 'be' provided all of the following conditions are met.

  1. It must not be accented. You never leave 'is' out of something like 'There already is one!'
  2. It mustn't end the sentence. You never say, 'I don't know what it is' without the 'is'.
  3. It mustn't begin the sentence. You never leave out the 'is' in a question like 'Is dat right?'
  4. It mustn't be an infinitive. You never leave out 'be' in something like 'You got to be strong' or an imperative like 'Be careful', or in one of those habitual aspect cases like 'He be laughin'.'
  5. It mustn't be in the past tense. You never leave out 'was' or 'were'.
  6. It mustn't be negated. You never leave out 'ain't' from something like 'He ain't no fool.'
  7. It mustn't be first person singular. You never leave out the 'am' of sentences like 'I'm yo' main man.'

From these and other readily observable examples, it isn't difficult to conclude that the only reasons for the early results that implied that Black Vernacular English was an "impoverished" version of standard English were simply artifacts of invalid methods of data gathering and interpretation.

Actually, from a linguistics standpoint, it is still argued whether ebonics is a form of slang or a dialect. I am going to have to side with dialect -- it is a variant of English, but bears enough differences in vocabulary and grammar to exceed slang. Furthermore, it is spoken by a small, ethnically distinct group (not counting middle-class whiteboy posers), which reinforces the categorization.

To assume that speakers of ebonics are lazy or uneducated smacks of racism. Language evolves based on time, geography, and social structure. Given that, in America, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the rift between blacks and the rest of American culture, it is not surprising that jive eventually evolved into a standalone dialect.

Most importantly, linguistics is a descriptive (not prescriptive) science, and its practitioners inform us that BVE Black Vernacular English is definitely a (some say several) distinct and regular dialect of American English. It has been influenced by SWE (Standard Written English) but it's only for cultural and historic reasons that SWE is labelled superior to BVE.

The point being: suppose BVE were (as often labelled) an example of laziness or ignorance or whatever other incorrect derogatory labels your aunt, or English teacher, or the guidance counselor who tracked you for vocational instead of college prep care to apply. Then why would millions of people all come to speak it roughly the same way? Why would the rules of this dialect be just as easily described by linguists as any other dialect? How could it be a useful means of communication? It couldn't...because it isn't lazy, nor ignorant...it's just different.

Why can't we (and our educational institutions) accept and publicly admit, including to students, that there are two dialects? Criticizing kids for speaking their mother tongue, and telling them it's all wrong, is not a successful way to teach the mainstream dialect...it IS a very successful way to convince kids that you don't understand them or their subculture, and that what you're trying to teach them is how to act white, which will get them stigmatized by their peers.

Perhaps before we begin to decide whether "ebonics" is a dialect or a slang, we should look at the origin of ebonics.

In the beginning, black people lived in Africa. There were no black people in the Americas until the slave trade began, and in Africa, there were few, if any, strong black states. Blacks in Africa spoke thousands of languages, often wildly varying from village to village.

Now, during the age of imperialism, traders from Western Europe communicated with the natives of their colonies via simplified languages collectively known as pidgin, which mixed a European vocabulary with a nativized grammar. Many different forms of pidgin have been devised: the forms of pidgin used in West Africa and the South Pacific are the most widespread today.

After slaves were trapped, they would be sent to forts on the West African coast to be collected and shipped to the New World. They would be surrounded by people speaking a variety of different languages, and would be taught the basics of pidgin by the slave traders, learning some more on the hellish ride across the Atlantic Ocean. This would be the basis of their communication with plantation owners upon their arrival in the Americas.

"Ebonics" generally refers to the evolved form of this pidgin English spoken in the United States, but the patois of Jamaica and the Bahamas, as well as Haitian Creole, share similar origins. In fact, conversations between two Bahamians and conversations between two men on the Congo River (in West African Pidgin English) will sound very similar to each other, even today.

Ebonics, however, sounds notably different from the slave languages of the Caribbean, and there is a reason for this. In the South, whites originally spoke a British style of English, while blacks originally spoke in pidgin. However, white children were usually raised by a slave nanny, and often played with a slave playmate: these interactions during the formative stages of language acquisition meant that, over the next couple of hundred years, ebonics began to sound more like Queen's English, and the white southerners' speech began to sound... well, blacker, something they often tried their best to cover up in the circles of aristocracy. But that's another story.

Ebonics truly began its nationwide spread after the end of the Civil War, when many blacks in the South were suddenly free to move to major cities in the North and take on a new life. Soon, cities all over the country had black populations speaking ebonics, and a single ebonics dialect began to coalesce—the black English that we hear today from Atlanta to New York City to LA.

Black culture in general owes much to the many cultures of West Africa. Pentecostalism is essentially a flavor of Christianity heavily influenced by old village rituals, with the preacher man taking the place of the chief; rap and jazz are both descended from improvisational tribal music. Ebonics is only one part of this culture, but indeed an important one, as it is how the essence of the African-American community has been passed from generation to generation in the United States.

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