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AAVE, Ebonics, African American Black Venacular, Dialect, Creole, Patois, Linguistics

Rosina Lippi-Green ~ "English With an Accent" testifies to the salience of ethnic differences in American life. To quote her, "The Real Trouble with Black English is that "AAVE is tangible and irrefutable evidence that there is a distinct, healthy, functioning African American culture which is not white, and which does not want to be white."

Justice Department Seeks Ebonics Experts - The translators, being hired in the agency's Southeast Region — which includes Atlanta, Georgia; Washington; New Orleans, Louisiana; Miami, Florida; and the Caribbean — would listen to wiretaps, translate what was said and be able to testify in court if necessary, DEA wants Black English linguists to decipher bugged calls. Ebonics is among the 114 languages--categorized as either “common” or “exotic”— for which the DEA's Regional Linguist Services is presently seeking contract translators. John Rickford, a Stanford University linguistics professor. "And it's not — it's a big vocabulary. You'll have some significant differences" from English. 2010

John R. Rickford is the Martin Luther King Centennial Professor of Linguistics and African and Afro-American Studies at Stanford University. Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English by John R. Rickford, Russell J. Rickford
American Book Award for 2000 from the Before Columbus Foundation.
"That mainstream English is essential to our self-preservation is indisputable . . . but it is not necessary to abandon Spoken Soul to master Standard English, any more than it is necessary to abandon English to learn French or to deprecate jazz to appreciate classical music."
~ John R. Rickford and Russell J. Rickford ( 2000)

What is claimed to be the initial mention of "Ebonics" was made by the psychologist [1] Robert Williams in a discussion with linguist Ernie Smith (as well as other language scholars and researchers) that took place in a conference on "Cognitive and Language Development of the Black Child", held in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1973.[2][3] In 1975, the term appeared within the title and text of a book edited and co-written by Williams, Ebonics: The True Language of Black Folks. Williams there explains it: A two-year-old term created by a group of black scholars, Ebonics may be defined as "the linguistic and paralinguistic features which on a concentric continuum represent the communicative competence of the West African, Caribbean, and United States slave descendant of African origin. It includes the various idioms, patois, argots, idiolects, and social dialects of black people" especially those who have adapted to colonial circumstances. Ebonics derives its form from ebony (black) and phonics (sound, the study of sound) and refers to the study of the language of black people in all its cultural uniqueness.[4] ~ Dr. Tempii Champion

Compiled Bibliography for nonstandard English Speakers - PDF

About American English Creole Dialect Speakers and Examples of Creole Literature

Full Text - California Board of Education passed an Ebonics Resolution 12/18/96

Ebonics Suggested For District By Irma Lemus Staff Writer Sunday, July 17, 2005
Incorporating Ebonics into a new school policy that targets black students, the lowest-achieving group in the San Bernardino City Unified School District, may provide students a more well-rounded curriculum, said a local sociologist.
The goal of the district's policy is to improve black students' academic performance by keeping them interested in school. Compared with other racial groups in the district, black students go to college the least and have the most dropouts and suspensions. Blacks make up the second largest racial group in the district, trailing Latinos. A pilot of the policy, known as the Students Accumulating New Knowledge Optimizing Future Accomplishment Initiative, has been implemented at two city schools.
Mary Texeira, a sociology professor at Cal State San Bernardino, commended the San Bernardino Board of Education for approving the policy in June.
Texeira suggested that including Ebonics in the program would be beneficial for students. Ebonics, a dialect of American English that is spoken by many blacks throughout the country, was recognized as a separate language in 1996 by the Oakland school board.
"Ebonics is a different language, it's not slang as many believe,' Texeira said. "For many of these students Ebonics is their language, and it should be considered a foreign language. These students should be taught like other students who speak a foreign language.' Texeira said research has shown that students learn better when they fully comprehend the language they are being taught in. "There are African Americans who do not agree with me. They say that (black students) are lazy and that they need to learn to talk,' Texeira said.
Len Cooper, who is coordinating the pilot program at the two city schools, said San Bernardino district officials do not plan to incorporate Ebonics into the program.
"Because Ebonics can have a negative stigma, we're not focusing on that,' Cooper said. "We are affirming and recognizing Ebonics through supplemental reading books (for students).'
Beginning in the 2005-06 school year, teachers will receive training on black culture and customs. District curriculum will now include information on the historical, cultural and social impact of blacks in society. Although the program is aimed at black students, other students can choose to participate.
The pilot program at Rio Vista Elementary and King Middle schools focuses on second-, fourth- and seventh-grade classes. District officials hope to train teachers from other schools using the program as a model. Board member Danny Tillman, who pushed for the policy, said that full implementation of the program at all schools may take years, but the pilot program is a beginning."At every step we will see positive results,' Tillman said.Tillman hoped the new policy would increase the number of black students going to college and participating in advanced courses. Teresa Parra, board vice president, said she worried the new program would have an adverse effect. "I'm afraid that now that we have this the Hispanic community, our largest population, will say, 'We want something for us.' Next we'll have the Asian community and the Jewish community (asking for their own programs). When will it end?' Parra said the district should focus on helping all students who are at risk. "I've always thought that we should provide students support based on their needs and not on their race,' Parra said. Tillman disagreed with Parra, saying programs that help Latinos already exist in the district. He cited the district's English- as-a-second-language program. Texeira urged people not be quick to judge the new program as socially exclusive. She said people need to be open to the program.
"Everybody has prejudices, but we must all learn to control that behavior,' Texeira said. She said a child's self confidence is tied to his or her cultural identity. She compared the low performance of black students to starvation. "How can you be angry when you feed a family of starving children?' Ratibu Jacocks, a member of the Westside Action Group, a coalition of black activists, said they are working with the district to ensure the policy is
implemented appropriately. "This isn't a feel-good policy. This is the real thing,' Jacocks said.
Jacocks said he didn't believe the new policy would create animosity. He said he welcomed the idea of other ethnic groups pushing for their own programs.
"When you are doing what's right, others will follow,' Jacocks said. "We have led the way before the civil-rights movement opened the door for women's rights and other movements.'


The Dialectizer takes text or other web pages and instantly creates parodies of them! Try it out by selecting a dialect, then entering a URL or English text below. This is only kidding - a joke.

Folk tales and story telling

CreoleTalk Mailing Lists

Ebonics ERIC/CLL Minibib, December 1998

North American Venacular English Links to AAVE material

African American Vernacular English


Taken from Sutcliffe 1998 African American Vernacular English: Origins and Issues (pages 68-95 slightly abridged). Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Reading, England.
The Voices of Living History: A review of accounts given by 12 former slaves and one white woman - of the antebellum plantations, the Civil War and the post-war period.

The Narratives Southern blacks were interviews about their experiences in slavery for the WPA slave narrative project, online anthology are transcribed verbatim from the interview transcripts collected by writers of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the late 1930s. The narratives can be quite challenging to read. The dialect can be difficult to understand; the interviewers usually made an effort to transcribe what they heard the narrators saying, but there is little consistency from interview to interview. The interviewers were assigned to ask a series of questions about labor, diet, marriage, punishment, and relations with masters. Some interviewers followed this list of questions more faithfully than others. Most of those interviewed were in their eighties and nineties; their recollection of childhood is often remarkably detailed, but readers will detect the difficulty of remembering exact chronologies over a period of seventy or eighty years.
Index of Narratives These narratives were conducted years ago in the Jim Crow South; just as these former slaves had survived into the twentieth century, so had the ideology of white supremacy that underpinned the slave society of the American South.