Linguistics Ebonics Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3415 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Communication - Language

Ebonics may borrow or take on words from Standard American English, but there are grammatical dissimilarities. In fact, there is substantiation suggesting that African-American speech has roots similar to that of Niger-Congo Africans. Ebonics shares African morphology and lacks certain phonemes. These phonemes play an important role in the syntax and comprehension of Standard American English. However since Ebonics lacks them, it affects the connotation and grammatical structure of Ebonics. Even though many will carry on to question the spirit of Ebonics, there is sufficient evidence supporting the notion that it is without a doubt a separate language (Obasaju, Stewart, Jackson & Timberlake, n.d.).

Traditional testing of cognitive ability, written and oral language, and reading skills have been reported as not giving exact results for African-American youths who speak Ebonics. These dissimilarities have been thought to be due to language and cultural differences, particularly in the view that The African derived language of Ebonics are inferior to English. Additionally, many educators and psychologists are not completely aware of what Ebonics really is and what it means to African-American youths in terms of communication, understanding, and intelligence of life in general and in the educational system (Obasaju, Stewart, Jackson & Timberlake, n.d.).

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There are quite a few grammatical differences between Ebonics and standardized English. This is a big issue since the standardized tests used in education have proficiency in English grammar as a basic measure. One instance of the differences in grammar is the mix-ups of certain words because of differences in pronunciation. Because of phonological differences were "th" is replaced with "f" in Ebonics differences in death and deaf, the words could be easily confused. In addition for the reason that of pronunciation words like mile and mild could be confused (Obasaju, Stewart, Jackson & Timberlake, n.d.).

Term Paper on Linguistics Ebonics Is a Term Assignment

When Ebonics speaking students hear or see certain words as part of a standardized test they can easily confuse the Ebonics word with the English word and vice versa. It appears that comprehension is not the issue; the problem is vocabulary for the reason that differences in language. Assessment tests, measure language beyond its factual meaning. They also test student's capabilities to draw inferences, which in turn are founded on their background information. Their background information is founded on their cultural frames of reference. Ebonics speakers have very dissimilar frames of reference that they bring into the test than the standard test taker does. Not only will Ebonics speakers answer in a different way based upon their frames of reference, scores do not take this into account, generally because scorers do not know that this issue is present. "It would help if on test concerning verbal proficiency, Ebonics speakers would be told to give answers with added sentences or phrases so a scorer would know if they are using the English or Ebonics interpretation. The population that is represented in most standardized assessment tests does not include the growing number of those who speak Ebonics" (Obasaju, Stewart, Jackson & Timberlake, n.d.). This helps to make clear why so many students that do speak Ebonics do so poorly on these tests. Ebonics differs so extensively from Standard English that it seems almost unjust to compare the two groups. The answers to standardized English tests that diverge from the conventional answer are marked wrong, even if they match with another language (Rickford, 1999).

These tests unjustly tie comprehension, knowledge and overall intelligence to aptitude in English. It is essential to make sure that tests are properly measuring what they are intended to measure. This does not seem to be the case in regards to those who speak Ebonics and the general tests that measure their aptitude. These factors influence which students are placed in special or remedial classes. The trouble does not seem to be their level of intelligence, but their comprehension of language. It has been shown that as the gap between the everyday language of students and the language used on standardized tests get bigger, there is a comparative probability that the language dissimilarities will pessimistically influence the student's test scores (Obasaju, Stewart, Jackson & Timberlake, n.d.).

Improving the academic performance of Ebonics speaking students divulges no easily discernible answers. Yet, a lot of suggestions are given that may advance the situation, and decrease linguistic and cultural prejudices on standardized tests. Perhaps, Ebonics translators could be made accessible during testing. This would permit for all questions and answers between student and teacher, to be communicated clearly. If funding is not available for special translators, then teachers and other faculty should learn sufficient Ebonics to converse with students. Becoming more aware of and receptive to the cultural practices of this nonstandard language is an intricate part of breaking down linguistic barricades. Even utilizing current standardized test, answers made by students can be sensibly identifiable, and not simply regarded as wrong answers. Possible lessons during classroom time that teach English and some Ebonics, for interpretive purposes, would be helpful so language dissimilarities could be broken down. With this advance, students are able to learn and understand both, English and Ebonics at the same time ((Obasaju, Stewart, Jackson & Timberlake, n.d.).

The time has come for unconventional teaching. Ebonics was not an educational issue thirty years ago, but it is today. Without tangible solutions for African-American youth, they could, very well, be lost. The educational system needs to step up to the challenge of generating a bright tomorrow for young people. Special foundation measures are taken to make sure Hispanic and Asian children overcome these linguistic barriers. It should be the same for those who speak Ebonics. Mastering the English language is extremely important for American students. Yet, the educational systems in this country must recognize that without understanding, learning cannot take place, particularly for African-Americans (Obasaju, Stewart, Jackson & Timberlake, n.d.).

Even though African-American students have been recognized by educators as non-standard English speakers, and their incapability to do well academically has been documented, very little has been done to improve the situation on a large scale. That is, with the exception of the Oakland Unified School District task-force composed of educators concerned with the poor academic performance of African-American students, predominantly in language arts. They arrived at the conclusion that African-American students were speaking African-American English, a deviation of English influenced by African languages and therefore, like most other non-standard English speakers, having trouble comprehending content taught in standard English (Ebonics & Education, A Dystopian Fantasy, 2010).

Over a decade ago, some well-intentioned educators created the Oakland Resolution in an attempt to address this dialectical issue. They felt that if students had a problem understanding the material in Standard English, then the school should try to educate them in other ways that they could comprehend. One of these substitute ways included the incorporation of African-American English in the classroom, in a comparable fashion to the way English Second Language / Bilingual courses are carried out. Unfortunately, because there weren't any linguists involved in the formation of the original Oakland Resolution, the document made controversial statements about the native language of African-American students. It the wrong way claimed Ebonics was an African language, as opposed to one influenced by African languages. Needless to say, commotion exacerbated by the media took place, stigmatizing the African-American English dialect and any hopes of its implementation in the education system. By the time linguists were able to revise the Oakland Resolution, it was too late (Ebonics & Education, A Dystopian Fantasy, 2010).

To this day, there is a lot of confusion about the intent of the 1996 Oakland School Board Resolution on Ebonics. The mainstream media, with a typical lack of understanding of the issue, claimed that Standard English teaching was being done away with in favor of teaching AAVE. The board itself, and a lot of leftists in academia, maintained that the resolution was totally innocent of such reasons, and was calling only for arming the teachers with a knowledge of AAVE so that they could use that knowledge to more easily become accustomed to the non-standard speech of their students to the standard speech they would normally use (Junk Science and the "Ebonics" Resolution: Is academia looking the other way, 1997).

Neither camp had summarized the language of the resolution properly. If conservatives and media critics were too quick to condemn the pedagogical theory behind the idea and make mistaken assumptions about inferior language types, leftist multiculturalists were too quick in its defense, and conveniently overlooked the disgraceful and false notions that were contained in the document. The true neglect in seriously analyzing the resolution, yet, came surprisingly from certain linguistic organizations, who did not correct the many errors that took place therein, in spite of the fact that such errors blatantly damaged the whole body of linguistic scholarship (Junk Science and the "Ebonics" Resolution: Is academia looking the other way, 1997).

It is possibly easiest to dismiss the notion that Black English and other dialects are corruptions of the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Linguistics Ebonics.  (2011, November 20).  Retrieved September 21, 2020, from

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"Linguistics Ebonics."  November 20, 2011.  Accessed September 21, 2020.