Essay about ebonics

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Ebonics means 'black speech' (a blend of the words ebony 'black' and phonics 'sounds'). The phrase was created in 1973 by a group of black scholars who disliked the negative connotations of terms like 'Nonstandard Negro English' that had been coined in the 1960s when the first modern large-scale linguistic studies of African American speech communities began. However, the term Ebonics never caught on amongst linguists, much less among the general public. That all changed with the 'Ebonics' controversy of December 1996 when the Oakland (CA) School Board recognized it as the 'primary' language of its majority African American students and resolved to take it into account in teaching them standard or academic English.
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Many people view Ebonics as a symbol of inadequate education or complexity. Ebonics includes non-slang words like ashy (referring to the appearance of dry skin, especially in winter), which have been around for a while, and are used by people of all age groups.
One-reason linguists don't use the term "Ebonics" very freely is that it is very unclear, and such questions are hard to answer. Generally we use the term "African American Vernacular English", or AAVE. Linguists know very well that there are African Americans who cannot speak this language with fluency; that there are some non-African Americans who can; and that almost all African Americans have some control of other forms of English, including Standard American English. A large number of African American adults are absolutely fine with both AAVE and Standard American English, and are competent at using it in the suitable situations.
The history of AAVE and its genetic affiliation, by which we mean what language varieties it is related to, are also a matter of controversy. Some scholars contend that AAVE developed out of the contact between speakers of West African languages and speakers of vernacular English varieties. According to such a view, West Africans learnt English on plantations in the southern Coastal States (Georgia, South Carolina, etc.) from a very small number of native speakers (the indentured laborers).
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