The sample essay on African American Slang deals with a framework of research-based facts, approaches, and arguments concerning this theme. To see the essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, read on.
Cameron White Writing 1 Section 30 11/8/10 Mellissa Fabros Ebonics and its Handicap on Society In today’s African American community, many speak and use a different form of “standard” English. Ebonics is a form of English that was established by the early US slaves in search of a reliable means of communication.
During slavery, there were laws which mandated that any person caught teaching a slave to read or write could be fined and/or put in jail. This left them to fend for themselves and create their own form of communication.
As time has progressed, the Black slag, known as Ebonics, is recognized by many as a less sophisticated form of English. From a linguistics stand point, the use of this slang leads to a negative reflection on the people within the African American culture.
And it should be noted, this can be said for any culture within a society’s norms for language. The use of Ebonics merely handicaps the African American society and limits their success and respectability among the educated world due to its negative connotations and perceptions.
Discussions revolving around Ebonics, and other types of slag for the matter, seem to evoke much emotion in people—and let’s face it, there are pros and cons on both sides of the debate. For the purposes of this paper, an emphasis is placed on the cons of the use of such slag.
“The term Ebonics (a blend of ebony and phonics) gained recognition in 1996 as a result of the Oakland School Board’s use of the term in its proposal to use African American English in teaching Standard English in the Oakland Schools.
The term was coined by Robert Williams in 1973, but it wasn’t until the Ebonics controversy that Ebonics became widely used. Most linguists prefer the term African American English as it aligns the variety with regional, national, and sociocultural varieties of English such as British English, Southern English, Cajun English, and so forth” (http://www. cal. org/topics/dialects/aae. html, November 7, 2010). According to Garrard McClendon, author of book entitled “ax or ask? ” this is a critical issue facing today’s black youth, leaving them unable to infiltrate the professional arena.
Formal written and spoken modern English, and the African American slang share the majority of the same root words but differ in the pronunciation as well as many words in general. Although it is technically the same language, the understanding of Ebonics does not equate to formal English in most cases. Leon Todd, A successful African American business owner, stated the following, “… standard English determines one’s career success and failure. ” In order to obtain a successful career in the educated word it is necessary to practice the correct form of modern English.
The majority of the black youth is grown up speaking this form of slang on a day to day basis. Children growing up around this slag terminology and vulgar terms, make it extremely hard on the African American youth of this era to make the transition from one of informal language to the standard English of the educated world. In this day and age this transition is not made priority in the homes of these African Americans. An African American individual who speaks the formal English language has countless opportunities in the educated world.
In contrast, Blacks who speak the form of language known as Ebonics are mostly limited to bottom-tier careers and most cases, poverty. It is vital for this transition to be made mandatory in every house hold in the Black community. Ebonics has become prevalent in main stream media. Lately, this form of English has influenced the music business in rap and pop songs. The Hip Hop Industry has become one of the most widespread and effective promoters of this form of speech. This has become a heated issue with in the black community.
While the Black youth idolizes these rappers, they are merely crippling the youth’s ability to achieve their fullest potential in the intellectual society of America. These children listen to the music and are inclined to speak like the songs they hear on the radio. As this defected language continues to thrive in the world of hip hop, similar language habits are spread among the population. The recent uprising in the African American upper class can be explained by their understanding of the formal English language and willingness to adapt to the education American population.
Recently we have witnessed the first black president in the US. As he speaks out to the millions of listeners nationwide he uses his precise language to move his ideas to the argument he is trying to convey. Barack Obama uses the Standard English language to appeal to the sophisticated world in America. When comparing a person of African descent using the Black English to one who is using the formal form of English a clear line is drawn. This line makes a clear distinction between the upper class and the lower class.
Speakers of Ebonics do not receive the respect in formal atmospheres as those who speak the traditional forms of English. Almost all major industries are built around the standard form of English. The justice system is just one example. For example, a black American speaking formal English to a judge will typically get a much better response then one using a strong Ebonics dialect. This may cause controversy among the black community but it is a reality. This is why you don’t see many lawyers using the word “nigga” or “dog”. The situation may even sound comical to the everyday person.
However, the impact this defective language has on the African American society is far from comical; it limits their overall ability to success in certain atmospheres. Although the language seems to hold back the African American population, positive reflection on the history of the dialect conveys a different message. The creation of Ebonics is somewhat praised in the black community for how it was established. The early slaves of this country accomplished a great feat by creating a way of communication amongst each other without any input from the English speakers of that time.
In fact communication between the slaves was not allowed and even enforced violently by the slave owners. From this perspective, the African American population can stand proud of their ability to create an effective form of communication—but only for that purpose and time period. The simple fact is that the form of English an individual speaks categorizes them. One might say the dialect an individual speaks makes more of a sociological impact than the actual race of that person. This is an important fact when taking into consideration an individual’s means to success.
However, I am not saying the entire dialect of Ebonics should be eradicated. There is a time and place for everything. For example, In the workplace it is necessary to use formal language, but in a casual environment, the use of black slang English may be appropriate. The Black society of America as a whole will take a giant leap forward toward success when they come to this realization. Ebonics is a wide spread dialect among the black community. Speakers of this dialect suffer consequences in the grand scheme of life—many of which impact their social status, limit career opportunities, and often present situations of poverty.
Therefore the breakthrough of a new, even broader age of professional African Americans continues to be held back by the past influence of this slang dialect known as Ebonics. The African American population of today needs to stop and take initiative in appealing to the educated world through the eradication of their root slang and speaking the standard language of the professional world. Opportunities would become limitless to the African American Society as a whole in this country with the asset of a strong foundation of formal English.