Talk:Ebonics (word)

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These belong?[edit]

www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/24/ebonics-translators-justice_n_692565.html www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/7962667/Ebonics-translators-needed-by-DEA-to-interpret-drugs-wiretaps.html news.blogs.cnn.com/2010/08/24/dea-wants-to-hire-ebonics-translators/ www.economist.com/blogs/johnson/2010/08/ebonics_official_language 166.205.138.184 (talk) 01:12, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Although the word Ebonics is used, what is being referred to here is actually African American Vernacular English; the issue of whether this should be mentioned is currently being discussed at the talk page there and you're welcome to contribute to the discussion. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 01:43, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Ebonics Subcategories[edit]

This is a place to discuss any aspect of Ebonics, African American English or the Oakland Board of Education controversy that concerns Ebonics, but may not necessarily be directly about the specific term or may be hard to fit into the article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by EleanorPollo (talkcontribs) 22:24, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

Well actually no it isn't; instead it's the place to discuss this particular article, and improvements to it. -- Hoary (talk) 11:28, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

"Using the vernacular to teach the standard"[edit]

In his article "Using the Vernacular to Teach the Standard"[1], esteemed Stanford University linguist John R. Rickford cites three approaches to integrating children's vernacular into the educational environment, particularly in the arena of reading comprehension in standard American English. They are as follows:

  • The Linguistically Informed Approach: This first approach is based on the guidelines set by William Labov resulting from decades of research on Ebonics or African American Vernacular English (AAVE). This approach requires that teachers be able to differentiate between errors in reading comprehension, and differences in pronunciation. It also suggests employing teaching techniques that take into account the grammatical structure of Ebonics, such as focusing on pronunciation of the ends of words, since Ebonics has a stronger modifying effect on the ends of words than it does the beginning of them.
  • Contrastive Analysis: The second approach involves drawing the student's attention to the structural differences between the standard and the vernacular. Rickford cites work done by Hanni Taylor of Aurora University who was confronted with a population of students who used features of Ebonics in their standard English writing. Dividing her students into two groups, a control group, and an experimental group, she taught the former using conventional methods, and the latter using Contrastive Analysis. To quote Rickford; "What she found after eleven weeks was that the kids who were using traditional techniques showed an 8.5 percent increase in their use of Ebonics speech in their writing while the kids who had benefited from Contrastive Analysis showed a 59 percent decrease in their use of Ebonics features in their writing." This is strong evidence that acknowledgement of the vernacular is beneficial to the academic advancement of students coming from linguistically diverse backgrounds.
  • Introducing reading in the vernacular, then switching to the standard: The third and final approach presented suggests using the vernacular to teach reading in the beginning stages, and then switching to the standard. Rickford cites research done in the Philippines in which half of a group of school-age children were taught to read for four years in English, while the other half started with their native language for the first two years, and then switched to English. Rickford says that "What the researchers found is what other researchers have found in many studies, namely that the kids who began in their own vernacular, when they switched to the second language, very rapidly caught up with the kids who started in English, and even surpassed them. The kids who started in the vernacular were outperforming in English the kids who started in English, in subjects ranging from reading to social studies, and even arithmetic." While this research was not done specifically on child speakers of Ebonics, it does show precedence for success in teaching with this method. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Matteakline (talkcontribs) 22:28, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
That's something that might be brought up at some page about the learning or teaching of reading, and mentioned within the article on the "Oakland Ebonics controversy". -- Hoary (talk) 11:28, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
  1. ^ Using the Vernacular to Teach the Standard

Heaven forbid...[edit]

I don't know who wrote or is responsible for this article now, but I am counting down the minutes until my perfectly reasonable, valid and pertinent citation of John McWhorter's book "Losing the Race" and its thorough discussion on the danger of "Ebonics" is removed. I already see it has been flagged for "full citation needed." Wasn't citing the book and creating an entry in the refs enough, when there is an entire section in the book on Ebonics? Rather than deleting it, let's talk about it. Alexandermoir (talk) 21:47, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

No call for a deletion. We're just missing the page number. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 02:25, 26 December 2011 (UTC)

Purpose of using the label[edit]

Is the term "ebonics" used primarily to facilitate language learning, by young students of "standard English" - or more to give dignity to "urban" slang? That is, was the emphasis more on mainstreaming speakers of slang so that they could become bilingual, i.e., able to speak slang and standard English equally well? Or was there more emphasis on stopping speakers of standard English from calling Black slang "substandard", i.e., bad or wrong or "low class"?

One reason I'm interested in this is that I've started tutoring math in Harlem, and all my students are black children who speak standard English but who (apparently) also know street slang. When speaking to me they generally take pains to use standard English, but when comfortable or excited they have occasionally lapsed (see code switching) into slang.

I'm fascinated by the regularity of Ebonics. I'm not so interested in whether it's high or low class, proper or improper. But I know some people disdain its use while others exalt it.

I want to know if it's more of a pidgin or a creole, or is it just (as I've been regarding it) slang? --Uncle Ed (talk) 16:48, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Your questions seem genuine (and amicable, etc), but rather less about the article than its subject -- or indeed the subject of a separate article, African American Vernacular English. I've therefore answered them (or tried to do so) on your talk page. -- Hoary (talk) 07:30, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

Links[edit]

[[WP:LINK Some of these links are to a single resource, document, or video (e.g. the non-functional http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5634427384230199073 ) and those should probably be incorporated into the article as references or removed entirely. Some are to much broader discussions and blogs about the topic, which are good for readers to do more extensive investigation. Basically, if I ever see an article with more than a half-dozen links (barring a few classes of article, such as biographies of prominent politicians, where there will be a wealth of high-quality links), I am inclined to slap on {{toomanylinks}}. —Justin (koavf)TCM☯ 19:44, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

Pedagogy or language?[edit]

This shouldn't be so hard to answer. The article's lede states, "Since the 1996 controversy over its use by the Oakland School Board, the term Ebonics has come to refer to using the pedagogical tool of teaching Standard American English to native speakers of AAVE by creating a distinction between Standard American English and African American Vernacular English," with a citation that failed verification. Elsewhere, the idea of ebonics as a dialect, especially as a synonym for AAVE, is dismissed as a popular misconception ("Thereafter, the term Ebonics became popularized, though as little more than a synonym for African American Vernacular English"). But another citation seems to refute this: "The use of the pedagogic approach called phonics, particularly in the context of reading, may have helped mislead people into thinking that the phonics from which the term Ebonics is partially derived has this meaning." So which is it? Does one speak ebonics or teach using it? --BDD (talk) 22:55, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

The article was indeed very confused. So much energy has to be put into protecting it and AAVE from stupidity and truthiness that not enough has been left for checking what hasn't been deleted.
The referent of "Ebonics" has generally been the same as that of "AAVE". -- Hoary (talk) 23:30, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
Thanks! That looks much better. --BDD (talk) 17:40, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

Ebonics is not a language[edit]

Why did someone edit the clarifications to the article?? It should state:

"Ebonics (a blend of the words ebony and phonics) is a term that was originally intended to refer to the informal, incorrect grammar usage of the English language of people descended from enslaved Black Africans, particularly in West Africa, the Caribbean, and North America. Since the 1996 controversy over its use by the Oakland School Board, the term Ebonics has primarily been used to refer to African American Vernacular English (AAVE), an incorrect grammatical version of Standard American English that gets passed down from parent to child, not through formal education. AAVE is not a language and there is no clear standard for its grammar. It can best be categorized as English regional slang due to the distinct spoken differences you can encounter in different city blocks, towns, cities, regions, and countries." — Preceding unsigned comment added by 108.220.59.47 (talk) 19:32, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

I have bolded the parts you added. In both cases, your additions are either inaccurate (Ebonics/AAVE is not a version of Standard English), opinionated (the status of AAVE as a separate language is not something we are in a position to take a side on), irrelevant (there are very few languages or dialects that aren't "passed down from parent to child"), or obscenely ignorant (no language expert would ever call any variety "incorrect"). You're entitled to your opinion, but please keep it out of the encyclopedia. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 19:45, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
I fixed the phrases to be more sensitive.
Ebonics (a blend of the words ebony and phonics) is a term that was originally intended to refer to the informal, non-standard grammar usage of the English language of people descended from enslaved Black Africans, particularly in West Africa, the Caribbean, and North America. Since the 1996 controversy over its use by the Oakland School Board, the term Ebonics has primarily been used to refer to African American Vernacular English (AAVE), a non-standard grammatical version of Standard American English that gets passed down from parent to child, not through formal education. [1] AAVE is not a language and there is no clear standard for its grammar. It can best be categorized as English regional slang or an informal dialect due to the distinct spoken differences you can encounter in different city blocks, towns, cities, regions, and countries. [2]
  1. ^ http://www.stanford.edu/~rickford/papers/SuiteForEbonyAndPhonics.html
  2. ^ http://www.stanford.edu/~rickford/papers/SuiteForEbonyAndPhonics.html
Still wrong. Ebonics was originally coined to refer to not just AAVE, but all language used by the peoples of the African diaspora, including creole languages. AAVE is not "an non-standard grammatical version of Standard American English" (that's an ungrammatical and self-contradictory phrase anyway). The only thing that's accurate, that children learn AAVE from their parents, is irrelevant to the article. You even put a citation to a piece written by John Rickford as if it backs up your claims when it actually contradicts what you've included. That's fabrication, a serious form of scholarly misconduct. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 21:23, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

Feedback[edit]

I'm sorry I do not have the patience, time or inclination to go to war with politically correct editors to attempt to win this battle but I would just like to note that upon reading this article fully for the first time, I find it a complete disgrace to Wikipedia. It doesn't even explain what ebonics is, give any examples of it or describe it as anything other than another way to say AAVE and speak poorly of it. This article has clearly been written or heavily watered down and slandered by people who do not like the term. I hope somebody, someday eventually addresses this problem on the AAVE, Ebonics disambiguation page and on this article - and in all probability, across a range of articles politically correct warriors would be interested in. This is an encyclopedia. Not your soapbox to cure all the racial injustices you think exist in the world. Handpolk (talk) 01:26, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

For a second you had me worried that you had backtracked on your declaration that you were removing yourself from contributing to the topic; in my experience, people who do this sort of thing (that is, say they are leaving but don't actually do so) have some annoying lapses in maturity and end up dragging others along in pointless, long-winded "debates." I am glad that you are not one of those types.
Anyway, your comments don't really reflect the article in its current state. The very first sentence says that Ebonics may "refer to the language of all people descended from enslaved Black Africans..." That includes all Caribbean creole languages and pidgins, as well as AAVE. The article presents one cited critique by a linguist, which is hardly consistent with your characterization that it is designed around speaking poorly of the term Ebonics. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 02:12, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
Ebonics is what inner-city blacks speak in America. That it notes something about enslaved africans is irrelevant. Maybe that's where the term originated but it's not how it is used today. The article doesn't mention anything about how it's used today. It's an article-length hatchet job against the term ebonics. Handpolk (talk) 02:33, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
Two examples. At the top it says "This article is about the term referring to the language of Black Africans..." That's incorrect. This article is not about the language of black africans. It's noted in the article itself that is only where the term originated. Today, the term is a synonym for AAVE, as noted in the article. So this is a lie at the top of the article. Second example: in the article the only sentence which gives an example of how the term is actually used today, other than to call it a synonym of AAVE, says it is used on message boards for people to ridicule AAVE. Perhaps that is one way it is used, but that in no way encompasses all the ways it is used. It is misleading and seeks to downplay and degrade this term. As is clearly the intent of the whole article. Some editors here have a strong anti-ebonics agenda and unfortunately they are winning. Handpolk (talk) 02:55, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
According to your recent edit, this article is about Ebonics as a colloquial synonym for AAVE. In your comments here, you are saying it does not mention how Ebonics is used today as a colloquial synonym for AAVE. Both statements are contradictory and they are both false. You would have to discard half of the content for either to be true. On top of your recent change mischaracterizing the article, you even got the template syntax wrong.
You are either unwilling or unable to comprehend the content upon which you wish to comment and are now acting in a disruptive manner by editing so hastily. I suggest you either stop wasting everyone's time with shoddy contributions or slow down and take the time you need to digest what you are reading. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 05:42, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm not interested in discussing this with people who will never acknowledge I'm right about anything nor accept any of my edits. You have a clear agenda and 'consensus' agrees with you as everybody following this has the same agenda. So I can't win. You know that. Which is why you keep reverting EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of my edits, conceding absolutely nothing, no matter how minor. Handpolk (talk) 06:02, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
I will leave it up to other editors to judge that. Regards. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 06:08, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

Stereotypes of African Americans is an example of an article on this general topic which does a great job of telling the truth with no watering down of the subject matter. This article should be written like that. Tell the truth as it is. Honestly I'm shocked the people who have watered down this article and AAVE have not done the same to that article. Handpolk (talk) 03:16, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

"Ebonics" is a word that has been used with various meanings. Some people who use it with one of these meanings in their publications (and not merely on talk radio, etc) vehemently deny that it has, or should have, one of the other meanings. This in itself is probably a good reason for Wikipedia to seek alternative phrasing. Another reason is that whatever Ebonics means, it's a matter of language or society, and few linguists or sociologists use the term. Their reasons are ably summarized in, for example, Lisa Green's book. If you disagree, please point to linguists, sociolinguists or sociologists (other than fringe figures) who do prefer "Ebonics".
Although I wonder if you're really interested in reasoned persuasion: I have trouble taking seriously the writings of somebody who says that a language (group) is the same "general topic" as stereotypes of its speakers.
So you're welcome to cite linguistics/sociology texts in support of what you are saying. -- Hoary (talk) 14:24, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
I don't doubt that academics have a strong preference for the term African American Vernacular English. That doesn't change anything I said. This article is about Ebonics. Not AAVE. Handpolk (talk) 15:02, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

"very one sided"[edit]

Hatnote: This article is about the term referring to the language of Black Africans. For African American U.S. English that is distinct from Standard American English, see African American Vernacular English.

Handpolk removes this, with the comment it's not useful because it is incorrect. if you'd like to describe ebonics as something other than 'the language of black africans' go ahead.

What is incorrect?

How I want to describe Ebonics is beside the point: the article does its best to describe how the term has been used; and points to the AAVE article for what is now its commonest use (or misuse, as its coiners would say).

Handpolk then adds This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. The specific problem is: the article is very one sided and contains little on the actual subject matter, beyond that which seeks to discredit the subject itself.. Please help improve this article if you can. (January 2015)

Weird. The article tries fairly hard to be multilateral. What is "the actual subject matter"? How is this discredited?

I look forward to improvements to the article if these improvements are faithful to what's written in linguistics books from university presses and comparable publishers. -- Hoary (talk) 15:44, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

The hatnote description wording needs to be changed to reflect what Ebonics is. Note how Ebonics is described on Ebonics "a term that is used for what linguists far more often term African American Vernacular English, and that was originally used with strong connotations of the African origin of this language". That's much more accurate than 'the language of Black Africans' which is downright misleading.
In addition, 'linguistics books from university presses and comparable publishers' are not the only sources which may be used in Wikipedia. Handpolk (talk) 16:13, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
"The language of Black Africans" does seem a bit imprecise, but your proposed wording is a bit verbose for a hatnote. What about "This article is about the term for the language of Black Africans, often used colloquially as a synonym for African American Vernacular English"? — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 17:51, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
That's better but I think saying 'the term for the language of Black Africans' is not accurate. That's not what the term means today. Perhaps that's how it began but it was hijacked almost 20 years ago to mean something else. Handpolk (talk) 18:11, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
Right, but this article covers that semantic shift. If you look at the article gay, it's the same thing. The term gay had a prior meaning and part of that article covers this semantic change. Actually, maybe we can use that article's hatnote as a guide. What about "This article is about Ebonics as a term, for the variety of English spoken by African Americans, see African American Vernacular English"?
That works. Handpolk (talk) 20:17, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
[The term] was hijacked almost 20 years ago to mean something else: maybe. However the change was effected, its commonest meaning was changed, and radically so. This is how Lisa Green describes it. On pp. 6-7 of her African American English, Green runs through a list of 15 terms that have been used over the years for her subject matter. "Ebonics" isn't among them. On p. 7, she writes:
The term Ebonics, which was coined by Robert Williams in 1973 [...] has been left off the list of labels of AAE because Williams intended the term to cover the multitude of languages spoken by black people not just in the United States but also those spoken in the Caribbean, for example. [...] Commenting on the misuse of the term Ebonics, [Ernie] Smith instructs:
In sum, Ebonics is not a dialect of English. [...] Eurocentric scholars use the term Ebonics as a synonym for "Black English." In doing so, they reveal an ignorance of the origin and meaning of the term Ebonics that is so profound that their confusion is pathetic.
And Green goes on to agree with some of what Smith says. Simply, her reason for not lumping "Ebonics" together with the other terms is that for her as well as for Smith, it has a different meaning. ¶ If anyone here is interested (and nobody need be), I have little time for Smith. Yes, he's very likely the only person currently discussing either AAVE or the term "Ebonics" (or indeed Ebonics as he understands it) who was in at the coining of the term. But he seems to divide theories, opinions and people between (A) the "Afrocentric" and (B) the "Eurocentric", and to assume that the one must be the foe of the other. What does matter is that Green, an authority in the field (and whose book would very obviously be "Eurocentric" in Smith's eyes_, agrees with Smith that "Ebonics" is better reserved for its original use. (If I keep citing Green, this is partly because hers is an excellent book, partly because I happen to have a copy at hand. I believe that I could cite John Baugh or others instead.) If we're pernickety, then over a decade ago she agreed (past tense) with Smith that Ebonics was better so reserved, but I doubt that matters have changed since 2002. -- Hoary (talk) 09:14, 29 January 2015 (UTC)