Ebonics Controversy Essay

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Ebonics is no longer discussed only at teacher conferences, scholarly debates, or in high profile political races. It is now at the forefront of society and prevalent in the issues affecting African Americans today and forever. Although many are familiar with Ebonics, there are still questions about it that must be answered for a better understanding of the term and its roots. What is Ebonics? Where did it come from? Is a totally different language or a dialect within a language? If an individual deconstructs the word “Ebonics,” they get “ebo” and “nics”. The word was made by combining “ebony” and “phonics”. Dr. Robert Williams, a black social psychologist, introduced the word into society in 1973. Dr. Williams and his colleagues were at a National Institutes of Health conference that year to discuss in detail the psychological development of African American children. Here’s what he had to say about coining the term back in 1973. (Baugh, 2005) "We need to define what we speak. We need to give a clear definition of our language… We know that ebony means black and that phonics refers to speech sounds or the science of sounds. Thus, we are really talking about the science of black speech sounds or language." (Williams, 1997a) In addition to Dr. Williams’s definition of Ebonics being black speech or language, Ebonics is defined as a dialect of English, a language totally different from English, and the language of all people of African descent throughout the African Diaspora (Baugh, 2005). In layman’s terms, Ebonics is the English language variant specific to African American culture. However, it is not a separate language because Ebonics and English are too similar to each other. (Fasold, 1999) Many people ask, “What is Ebonics and how do I recognize it?” Although many would answer that Ebonics is slang or broken English used by African Americans, they are

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