Deletion of /r/, /l/: mo(re), gua(r)d, he(l)p, Pa(r)is, a(ll)
Delete /r/, /l/ less often if it would be followed by vowel in next word (four o’clock, all or nothin’)
Simplification of consonant clusters: han(d), las(t), chil(d)
Delete final consonant less often if it carries meaning (past tense: passed, plural: cats)
Multiple negatives (He don’ know nothin’.)
Deletion of copula ‘to be’ (He sick. That my mother.)
Use of habitual ‘be’ (‘The coffee be cold (every day).)
Code-switching: Alternation between two languages or dialects; Many African-Americans are bidialectal in AAE and SAE, and ‘style-shift’ (a.k.a. ‘code switch’) between the two dialects depending upon context
Linguistic profiling: Determining characteristics about someone (such as their ethnicity or socioeconomic status) based on the way they use language
1996: In Oakland, blacks made up 53% of students, but 80% of suspensions, 64% of students held back each year, and 71% of special needs students
Wording of main topics of resolution (popular vs. intended interpretation)
The Genetic Issue: “African Language Systems are genetically based.”
Popular: Blacks are biologically predisposed to speak Ebonics
Linguistic: "Genetic" refers to linguistic origins (or ‘genesis’) in African languages, not biological predisposition
The Separate Language Issue: “African Language Systems are … not a dialect of English.”
Popular: Ebonics is not a dialect of English but is a separate language
Linguistic: Responding to the popular (and inaccurate) conception of ‘dialect’ as inferior/substandard form of a language.
The Teaching Issue: “…a program featuring African Language Systems principles in instructing African-American children both in their primary language and in English.” http://www.pbs.org/speak/seatosea/standardamerican/
Popular: Teachers will teach students how to speak Ebonics
The Bilingual Issue: “…the English language acquisition and improvement skills of African-American students are as fundamental as is application of bilingual or second language learner principles for others whose primary languages are other than English.”
Popular: The Oakland School District should qualify for federal funds as bilingual education programs do
Linguistic: Ebonics speakers should have access to special programs that help them to better learn SAE
What are some ways in which AAE dispels the myths that it is just ‘black slang’, a product of ‘lazy’ speech, or is an inferior, simple form of English with no rules of grammar?
Why is the term African American English something of a misnomer?
Discuss some of the reasons why the media reaction to the Oakland Ebonics resolution was so negative. Contrast this with the reactions of high-profile African Americans (like Jesse Jackson, Maya Angelou) who also reacted negatively to resolution?
Explain why one might argue that the debate over Ebonics and bilingual education is not a linguistic issue but a social or political one. Give examples to support your claim.