Ebonics Versus Academic English- The Importance of Language in Achieving Success

Ebonics Versus Academic English- The Importance of Language in Achieving Success

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English has been a very constant, yet complicated issue throughout my life. If you were to ask me, I would say that I am bilingual. Although this may not be true, I was forced to learn two forms of English, and expected to know when and where to use each dialect. Ebonics, which I would consider a language for the streets, was essential to know in order to function and survive in my neighborhood. While on the other hand, a more proper and eloquent form of academic English was also instilled in me from a very young age. When I was younger, I found it hard to elect when and where to use these vastly different forms of the same language. This often caused me much ridicule and teasing when I was younger. As I got older, I started to distinguish proper times to utilize these forms of speech, and in the end, I believe having this skill gave me a major advantage over people from my neighborhood that are lacking when it comes to academic English.
I was brought up on the South Side of Chicago, in a neighborhood that was predominantly black. This neighborhood was not a terribly bad area, but it also is not the best place one would want to live. At times it can be a very pleasant, well taken care of area, while at others it feels like an independent nation amidst a bloody civil war between gangs. To survive in this area it is imperative to be able to communicate, and the official language of “the Hood” is Ebonics. A prime example of this can be seen in my brief enrollment in one of Chicago’s public schools. One day, as I was making the journey home and was approached by a group of males I did not recognize. They sized me up, and one of them proceeded to asked me “what you flagging?” Because of my history with Ebonics, I was able to decipher...


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...ty. I was often called the “white boy” and was expected to prove my “blackness” to other members of the community. I used to find this upsetting; I was being judged, and categorized as someone who did not belong because of the way I spoke. Looking back on it now, I realize that everyone does this. We are judged everyday by the way we look, our actions, and the way we talk. The way you talk can tell a lot about yourself; if you talk in a serious and professional matter you will be taken in a serious and professional matter.
I have come to realize that language plays a large role in a person’s long term success. I got the idea that she feels that every culture has its own dialect that contributes to their identity. But the way in which that person negotiates those different English’s within a standard dialect determines his or her long term success in society.

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