Re: Linguist's Of The Apocalypse, unite!

Eric Watt Forste (
Fri, 31 Jan 1997 09:56:59 -0800

Chris Hind writes:
>Ebonics is the breaking off of standard US English into another
>dialect of it. I disagree with it also. Whats next? a spanglish
>(spanish/english) dialect? not too far off.

Chris, the project to which you refer is an attempt to recognize
that the speech that many people in Oakland grow up speaking is a
creole with roots mainly in English but also showing some traits
that have been traced to West African languages. The project is
one to teach English teachers these "foreign" linguistic structures,
in order to enable them to better teach *standard* English to their
students. Even the original resolution of the Oakland school board
makes this last point clear, before they reworded it to meet the
public attacks. Now the point is even clearer, but no one is
bothering to read their actual resolution, preferring to satisfy
themselves with what Rush Limbaugh has to say about the resolution.

Now, of course it's an open question whether or not the speech of
most black people in Oakland is merely a dialect of English or a
creole containing elements from non-English languages, but it seems
to me that open questions should be worked on both sides, and the
"creole" answer is the one that the Oakland school board decided
to work with. But it is ignorant to claim that the school board has
expressed any desire to teach their students any form of English other
than standard literary English.

Of course, if we had school choice instead of one-size-fits-all
publicly funded and state monopolized education, this would be no
more a matter of concern than whether or not the local grocery
chain chooses to carry DHEA or not. Separation of school and state
is the real issue here.

Next time, you might want to try reading the resolution you are
attacking before repeating what you read in the newspaper and see
on TV.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++