Ebonics

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EBONICS Ebonics, also known as Black English, is a nonstandard dialect spoken in many homes in the inner cities of America. This nonstandard language is often looked upon as low-class or lazy talk. This is not the case, however. Due to consistencies found in the dialect, there seems to be an order. It has been found that, when learning English, African-Americans adapted the language using some of the structure and rules of their own native tongue. This Black English has carried on through slavery and then freedom for hundreds of years. Although there is a coexistence of more than two dialects in our society, those in power forget the flexibility of our language and see no other way than the use of Standard English. Although many Americans tend to scorn any careless variation of the Standard English, flexibility of the language is, perhaps, a main reason for its survival. In 1905, a Danish scholar and great authority on English, Otto Jespersen, wrote: English is like an English park, which is laid out seemingly without any definite plan, and which you are allowed to walk everywhere according to your own fancy without having a fear a stern keeper enforcing rigorous regulations. (MacNeil 141) This freedom has created the English we speak today. Although a little behind the times, Oxford changes the rules as to what is correct English due to what is being spoken. In English Belongs to Everybody, Robert MacNeil, feels that English has prospered and grown because it was able to accept and absorb change (140). So change in the English language helps it grow, yet the dialect of the inner city blacks in our country is looked upon as a problem. To those in charge, there is no more room for growth. It is apparent that there are many types of dialect within American English. The coexisting of two or more languages, either serving together in the same area or servicing different areas, is as old as language itself (Pei 106). This has happened throughout time and appears to be inevitable. It is impossible to believe an entire country could conform to one language, and then only one dialect of that language. Throughout history societies have survived for some time using different languages until these language barriers tore territories apart. It is apparent how, in America, barriers between dialects separate black men from white men even more than physical conditions.

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