Ebonics: A Language Without A Purpose

1383 words - 6 pages

Sharing the commonality of punctuation and sounds with Southern American English, African American Vernacular English (AAVE), also known as Ebonics, has become one of the leading means of speech for people descended from black Africans, and has since asserted its independence from standard English through influences such as age, status, topics, and setting. Many linguists, those that study the art and diversity of language find nothing intimately wrong with African American Vernacular English since, like any other language, it is used to convey thoughts and ideas. However non specialists’ attitudes lean more toward the negative with African American Vernacular English, especially amongst African Americans themselves, as its usage can be misconstrued as ignorance and/or laziness. As a result of these negative connotations that derive from the usage of African American Vernacular English, many African American’sare now bidialectal, also known as code switchers, being that they are able to use both standard American English as well as African American Vernacular English.
As children we are taught the gift of language through mimicking and training. We are introduced to a bevy of words and sounds and their meanings. We learn tone and pitch and which words to use to emphasize a particular point(s) that we are trying to make. What we aren’t taught however is that the language that we may learn and speak at home may not necessarily be the language that is widely accepted in the outside world (i.e. school, work, interviews, public functions). Unfortunately our linguistics skill or lack thereof do define us as people and give unwilling clues to our level of intelligence and whether or not we are reliable sources of information (depending on who is receiving the information).
“The benefit of communication requires that the people around us, our audience only, understands us” (Brody, 2005, p. 289)
To fully understand the matter of Ebonics it is important to understand its origination and its current place in regards to the English language. Birthed through the isolation of African Americans stemming from slavery in the south, and derived from a mixture of African language and English with slaves learning English quickly but not completely thereby fusing the two languages, Ebonics has now become considered reinforcement in the sense of community and is embraced as a marker of identity of culture. No longer considered just slang Ebonics, which stems from the words ‘ebony’ & ‘phonics’ to mean ‘black sounds’, highlights the diversity and range of the English language, a language considered an ‘…international means of communication’ (Brody, 2005, p. 289) and is systematically based and governed with distinctive grammar and pronunciations (Brody, 2005, p. 279). One of the most distinctive forms of English, varying from city to city and still widely understood regardless of location (i.e. from California to Atlanta), the biggest argument in the debate of the...

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