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Essay about Ebonics: A Language Without a Purpose

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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...


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...r not the negative aspects of the language outweigh the language itself. Does one lose credibility by speaking this African American Vernacular English? At home? In public? Personally? Professionally? It would seem so. Ultimately the definition of language is “a body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the same community or nation, the same geographical area, or the same cultural tradition” For the most part Ebonics does this but if we are to look into the fact that Ebonics is a language unto the African American race and that many African Americans do not speak it, that it is not a form of speech that is widely accepted, or taught, or intensely studied, then what is the real purpose of this so called ‘language’ after all?



Works Cited

Brody, K. W. (2005). What's Language Got To Do With It? New York: W.W. Norton & Company.



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