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Ebonics: The Foundation of Understanding Written By Sarah Armstrong 2013 OAA Instructional Success Conference.

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1 Ebonics: The Foundation of Understanding Written By Sarah Armstrong 2013 OAA Instructional Success Conference

2 Objective Ebonics in the Classroom 0 In this presentation, hosted by Professor Sarah Armstrong, an English Adjunct at Columbus State, she will be using texts such as the book Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English by John Russell Rickford and Russell John Rickford to explain how Ebonics or African American Vernacular (AAV) is indeed a language and to have participants examine and brainstorm different teaching methods that will welcome Ebonics and other languages into the classroom as a stepping stone to help further their students’ knowledge. By fostering understanding and beginning to brainstorm methods, it can help teachers to become better and more conscientious practitioners in a time where classrooms are becoming more and more diverse.

3 Outline of the Presentation 0 Overview of how Ebonics can be defined as a language 0 Strategies for creating multicultural classroom that is culturally responsive.

4 Introduction 0 Thesis: Having a higher understanding of Ebonics could lead to a change in the educational system and social and political change. First, one must understand Ebonics is a language, not a dialect, which is directly influenced by several other languages primarily the Niger Congo African language and English, it’s a language with a rich history and its pronunciation, morphology, syntax, vocabulary and rhetorical devices are still prevalent in use today.

5 Ebonics is a language 0 Rosina Lippi-Green, author of the essay, “What We Talk about When We Talk about Ebonics: Why definitions Matter” 0 African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is used to avoid conflict surrounding the terms “language and dialect,” but it has little pejorative value (7). 0 Terms like “slang and jargon” are descriptively inaccurate and negative (7). 0 AAVE is a functional spoken language which depends on structured variation to layer social meaning. 0 We can look at AAVE’s pronunciation, intonations (phonetics and phonology), morphology, syntax, lexicon and rhetorical devices and be able to tell if it is dialect or slang.

6 Negative Reactions 0 Lippi-Green talks about the negative reactions people have towards Ebonics, but it is not only used by the poorer black community, but many prominent and successful blacks, even those who speak out against its usage (8). 0 It is deeply engrained within the black community and there are distinct characteristics. 0 She reminds us that “to make two statements: I acknowledge that my home language is viable and adequate, and I acknowledge that my home language will never be accepted” is to set up an unresolved conflict” (9). 0 Most people recognize Ebonics, but do not accept it as a “correct” language, which can lead to possible identity and self esteem problems for students.

7 Black English vs. Ebonics 0 Ernie Smith and Karen Crozier, authors of the essay, “Ebonics is not Black English” 0 The features of the African American languages have recognized West and Niger Congo African origins, but the use of the words “Black English” make it sound like a variation of English. However, the grammatical structure of the language shows that it is not (110). 0 What criteria is used to decide? Grammar, vocabulary, historical origins…?” (110).

8 Black English vs. Ebonics 0 L.R. Palmer in the book Descriptive and Comparative Linguistics: A Critical Introduction 0 In comparative and historical linguistics, languages are not considered related on vocabulary alone, but on grammatical structure (qtd. in Smith and Crozier 110). 0 O’Grady, Dobrovosky and Arnoff in the text Contemporary Linguistics: An introduction 0 Languages must have phonetic and phonological systems, morphology, syntax, systematic meaning and principles, which are the elements of grammar (qtd. in Smith and Crozier 110).

9 Black English vs. Ebonics 0 Based on a “criteria of continuity in the rules of grammar,” it is understandable that English is defined as a Germanic language and that Black English would be defined as a dialect of English (110). 0 However, there is no document that shows the “existence of a single Black dialect in the African diaspora that has been formed on English” grammar (110). 0 There is extensive borrowing from English, but its grammar is based on the Niger Congo descendants. There is no evidence that “Black English” ever existed (111).

10 Black English vs. Ebonics 0 Another hypothesis is that “it is not continuity in the rules of grammar but rather the etymology and continuity of the lexicon” that are the characteristics of a language; however, the authors ask, “why the double standard” (111)? 0 English has borrowed the bulk of its lexicon from Romance or Latin language families, so why is it not classified as Latin or Romance? If English is then Latin or French, then, Black English would be a dialect of the Latin or French language (111). 0 Final issue is defining the word, “black” since there are differences in how it is perceived (111).

11 Black English vs. Ebonics 0 Ebonics was coined in January 1973, by Dr. Robert L. Williams, a Professor of Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis Missouri (qtd. in Smith and Crozier 112). 0 Etymology of Ebonics: “Ebony”=black and “Phonics”=sounds. Literally means “black sounds” (qtd. in Smith and Crozier 112). 0 Represents the language and communicative competence of West and Niger-Congo Africa, Caribbean, and United States slave descendants of Niger-Congo African origin as well as the “non-verbal, cues and gestures” often used by African American people (qtd. in Smith and Crozier 112).

12 Smith & Crozier’s Conclusion: Black English vs. Ebonics 0 Smith and Crozier’s final points: 0 Ebonics does not follow the rules of English grammar, which is the root cause for why some children do not recognize or comprehend English grammar. Segregation and poverty causes limited exposure to it, but it is not the root cause of limited English proficiency. 0 Ebonics is not a dialect nor is it the “africanaization of American English.” It is an African based language with European words (114).

13 Ebonics is a language 0 Other authors support this fact. 0 Wayne O’Neil’s essay, “If Ebonics isn’t a Language, then Tell Me, What Is? (pace James Baldwin, 1979)” 0 It is derived from certain West African languages as well as from English. West African grammatical structures are masked by English words (39). 0 “Commonsense definition of language…lies in the quip that a language is a dialect with an army and a navy—or a school system” (41). 0 The School system he is referring to is the Oakland School district.

14 Ebonics is a language 0 John Rickford, in an interview, “Holding on to a Language of our Own: an interview with Linguist John Rickford” 0 Slaves in the course of acquiring English, developed first a pidgin and then a creole. He says, “one can view it as a language problem or as language creativity because it is a creative response to a language learning situation” (61). 0 James Baldwin, in his essay, “If Black English isn’t a Language, Then tell me What Is?” 0 Language is a “political instrument, means and proof of power” and “it is vivid and crucial key to identity.” There are times when speaking certain languages can be dangerous or fatal or one may speak the language in a certain way (68). 0 Ebonics was the creation of the Black diaspora. It came into existence by means of brutal necessity and the rules of language are dictated by what the language must convey (69).

15 Ebonics is a language 0 John R. Rickford and Russel J. Rickford in the book Spoken Soul 0 The term “Spoken Soul” was created by Claude Brown, author of ManChild in the Promised Land, as another term for black talk (3). He says African American Vernacular posses a “pronounced lyrical quality.” 0 Ebonics shows vocabulary parallels between Caribbean Creole English and African American English

16 Two Major Political Events in the issue of Ebonics 0 1979 Ann Arbor “Black English” case 0 1996 Oakland School district

17 Lack of Presence in Major Dictionaries 0 Fern L. Johnson, in the study “Unacknowledged African Origins of U.S. English Usage: ‘Origin Unknown’ and Other Peculiar Etymologies (2002)” 0 Purpose: “to ascertain the degree to which standard, highly regarded dictionaries of U.S. English recognize in their etymological entries the work that has been done to trace African origins for words in the U.S. linguistic currency” (209) 0 Method: Chose 26 recognizable mainstream English “test” words. The 26th being banana, which originated in West Africa and is well-know for its etymology. Chose two editions of The American Heritage Dictionary of English and the Merriam Webster Dictionary. He assumed it would take several dictionary editions for the impact of etymological work on African language terms to become evident (210) 0 Conclusions: The general patterns in both shows lack of recognition for African word origins or even African word origin possibilities (212).

18 Ebonics Presence 0 Rickford and Rickford provide other resources for finding Ebonics words and their etymologies (93). 0 Clarence Major’s 548 page Juba to Jive: A Dictionary of African American Slang 0 Geneva Smithermans’s 243 page Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Hood to the Amen Corner 0 J.L Dilard Lexicon of Black English (1970) 0 Words with African origins: 0 Goober or guba from ngguba, a Kimbundu word meaning “peanut” 0 Okay, jazz, tote (carry) 0 Loan translations into English such as cut-eye and bad mouth. 0 Loan translations tend to survive longer than direct loans.

19 Ebonic Pronunciation 0 Pronunciation : 0 Mary M. Clark’s textbook, The Structure of English for Readers, writers and Teachers 0 simplification of consonant clusters (help as hep), 0 [r]-dropping, 0 pronunciation of [ I] as [a]. 0 When looking at the types of substitution of sounds, there is the substitution of [t] and [d] for initial [th] and [th]: For instance, thing as ting and this as dis. 0 The other substitution of [f] and [v] for final [th] and [th]: For instance, mouth as mouf and bathe as bav (259- 260).

20 Ebonics Grammar 0 Grammar: 0 Rickford and Rickford’s book Spoken Soul 0 12 grammatical features: 0 Plural s and dem; 0 existential it is; 0 absence of third-person singular present-tense s; 0 absence of possessive ‘s; 0 Invariant be; 0 Zero copula (absence of is or are); 0 been, BEEN; 0 done, be done, finna, had, and other tense-aspect markers; 0 negative forms and constructions; 0 questions, direct and indirect; pronouns; 0 and additional verbs.

21 Ebonics and Education 0 Arnetha F. Ball and Ted Lardner, authors of African American Literacies Unleashed: Vernacular English and the Composition Classroom 0 We need to change the status quo. Specific steps for changing the face of education: 0 Knowledge 0 Self-Reflection 0 Personal and Professional Classroom Change 0 Ebonics does not replace the learning of Standard English. However, it should be given recognition in order to help students add Standard English to their repertoire (Rickford and Rickford 227-228)

22 Culturally Responsive Teachers Know… 0 Knowledge 0 The teacher understands and can identify differences in approaches to learning and performance and can design instruction that helps use students’ strengths as the basis for growth. 0 The teacher understands how students’ learning is influenced by individual experiences, talents, and prior learning, as well as language, culture, family, and community values. 0 The teacher has a well-grounded framework for understanding cultural and community diversity and knows how to learn about and incorporate students’ experiences, cultures, and community resources into instruction.

23 Culturally Responsive Teachers Know… 0 Dispositions: 0 The teacher respects students as individuals with differing personal and family backgrounds and various skills, talents, and interests. 0 The teacher is sensitive to community and cultural norms. 0 The teacher makes students feel valued for their potential as people, and helps them learn to value each other.

24 Culturally Responsive Teachers Know… 0 Performances: 0 The teacher seeks to understand students’ families, cultures, and communities, and uses this information as a basis for connecting instruction to students’ experiences 0 The teacher brings multiple perspectives to the discussion of subject matter, including attention to students’ personal, family, and community experiences and cultural norms. 0 The teacher creates a learning community in which individual differences are respected.

25 Reflection 0 What was your first experience with diversity? 0 How did you feel about the interaction? 0 Do you think students today are having similar “first experiences”? Why or why not?

26 Learning is a Social Process 0 Learning is a social process that involves socialization of students into educated persons. 0 Participation in cultural activities with the guidance of a more skilled partner—you, the teacher—enables students to internalize tools for thinking and taking more mature approaches to problem solving that are appropriate in their. 0 If the student’s home culture and language are devalued, and teachers don’t make links between the culture and school, students can lose the strength and coherence of a bicultural identity.

27 Your Beliefs Influence How You Teach 0 Your beliefs about teaching and learning are probably the most influential factor in how you will teach. 0 These beliefs will shape the learning context you develop and maintain in your classroom. 0 It is your job to communicate to your students not only that you value them as people, but able to help them to learn to value each other.

28 Culture and Ethnicity 0 Culture: 0 Culture refers to the ways in which we perceive, believe, evaluate, and behave. 0 Culture provides us with generally accepted and patterned ways of acting that enables us to live together and provides the norms that guide our language, actions, feelings, and thinking. 0 Ethnicity: 0 Ethnicity is a subjective view that a group holds regarding its common membership because of shared descent or historical background and similarities of customs, language, and, sometimes, physical type. 0 The members of the group may not acknowledge the features that seem to set them apart, and certain groups may label other groups as “ethnic groups.”

29 Culture in the Classroom 0 General principals of culturally responsive instruction: 0 Helping students whose education, economic, social, political, and cultural futures are most at risk to become intellectual leaders in the classroom. 0 Supporting students as apprentices in a learning community 0 Recognizing students’ real-life experiences as a legitimate part of the curriculum 0 Participating in a broad concept of literacy involving both written and oral traditions. 0 Engaging collaboratively in a struggle against the status quo 0 Recognizing the teacher as a political being

30 Terms 0 Contact Zone 0 It is a “zone” or place where cultures meet and learn from one another. 0 It cannot be forced nor is it an attempt to “enlighten” students from the majority culture about their “problem” beliefs concerning race, gender and class. 0 Even if voices were ignored or silenced in the past, they exist in the contact zone. 0 Pedagogy of Place 0 Asserts that learning occurs when students connect subject matter to their own lives and surroundings and critically reflect upon both the connection and the new materials being studied. 0 Learns come to understand themselves 0 Students begin to make sense of their own communities and the larger world and are then equipped to acknowledge other views shaped by histories different from their own.

31 When working with students, teachers should… 0 Be flexible 0 Examine curriculum 0 Engage in ongoing professional development 0 Go beyond simple labels 0 Be aware of their own culture

32 Reflection 0 Consider your own experience when answering the questions below. 0 What values do you hold dear? Can you describe an experience where these values were in conflict with another person’s value system? Were you able to resolve this difference? 0 Are you willing to change the value system that developed from the cultural forces in which you were raised? What would you describe as the main facilitators and barriers for such a change in views? 0 Can you think of an activity that would allow students in your classroom to explore their own value systems?

33 Take Away 0 Ebonics or AAVE is a language derived from the Niger Congo African language and English. It is not “Black English,” improper English or dialect. 0 Ebonics has history. It has its own pronunciation, phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, vocabulary and rhetorical devices. 0 Several words that we use have black origins, but the etymology is not necessarily recognized in major dictionaries; although, sources are readily available. 0 Educators should be knowledgeable about ALL student’s cultural background and change their attitudes towards these students. 0 This knowledge should be used in such a way that is accepting of cultural differences and curriculum should teach new skills that build off of what the student already knows. 0 Classrooms should be culturally responsive, be a contact zone, and create a pedagogy of place.

34 Works Cited 0 Baldwin, James. “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” The Real Ebonics Debate: Power, Language, and the Education of African American Children. Eds. Theresa Perry and Lisa Delpit. Boston: Beacon Press,1998. 67-70. Print. 0 Ball, Arnetha, and Ted Lardner. African American Literacies Unleashed: Vernacular English and the Composition Classroom. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2005. Print. 0 Bauer, Anne M. and Stephen D. Kroeger. Exploring Diversity: A Video Case Approach. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson: Merrill Prentice Hall, 2004. Print. 0 “Ethnic Dialects.” The Structure of English for Readers, Writers and Teachers. Ed. Mary Clark. 2 nd ed. Glen Allen, VA: College Publishing, 2010. 258-261. Print 0 “Holding on to a Language of Our Own: An Interview with Linguist John Rickford.” The Real Ebonics Debate: Power, Language, and the Education of African American Children. Eds. Theresa Perry and Lisa Delpit. Boston: Beacon Press,1998. 59-65. Print.

35 Works Cited 0 Johnson, Fern C. “Unacknowledged African Origins of U.S. English Usage: “Origin Unknown” and Other Peculiar Etymologies.” Howard Journal of Communications 13.3 (2002): 207-222. Academic Search Complete. Web. 31 Jan. 2013. 0 Lippi-Green, Rosina. “What We Talk About When We Talk About Ebonics: Why Definitions Matter.” Black Scholar 27.2 (1997): 7-11. Academic Search Complete. Web. 31 Jan. 2013. 0 O’Neil, Wayne. “If Ebonics Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is? (pace James Baldwin, 1979).” The Real Ebonics Debate: Power, Language, and the Education of African American Children. Eds. Theresa Perry and Lisa Delpit. Boston: Beacon Press,1998. 38-47. Print. 0 Rickford, John R. and Russell J. Rickford. Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000. Print. 0 Smith, Ernie and Karen Crozier. “Ebonics is not Black English.” Western Journal of Black Studies 22.2 (1998): 109-116. Academic Search Complete. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.

36 Any Questions?? Thank you for attending!

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