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Ebonics Debate A Linguistic View. 1.) Short overview about Charles Fillmore‘s work on the debate 2.) Some examples of voices from San Francisco newspapers.

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Presentation on theme: "Ebonics Debate A Linguistic View. 1.) Short overview about Charles Fillmore‘s work on the debate 2.) Some examples of voices from San Francisco newspapers."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ebonics Debate A Linguistic View

2 1.) Short overview about Charles Fillmore‘s work on the debate 2.) Some examples of voices from San Francisco newspapers about the resolution 3.)Charles Fillmore‘s view as a linguist

3 1.) After the Oakland Unified School District brought the Ebonics Debate and its resolution to the forefront in December 1996, Charles J. Fillmore, professor of Linguistics at the University of California, worked on this phenomenon. He wrote an essay on his research in January 1997 called ”A Linguist Looks at the Ebonics Debate“.

4 In the essay he discusses the different, mainly negative comments from newspapers like the San Francicso Chronicle, the Examiner and the Chicago Tribune and tells his own opinion about the debate. Fillmore criticises in particular that ”the language used by the Oakland school board in formulating the resolution has occasioned great and continuing misunderstandings.“

5 The resolution and the public disscussion about it have used so many different terms, each of them politically loaded (”Ebonics“, ”Black English“, ”Black Dialect“ etc.) Terms like dialect, language, slang, primary language and genetic were used in a confusing way and were often not used correctly. To avoid such a confusing kind of speech Fillmore uses the word communication.

6 The pedagogical relevant assumptions behind the Ebonics Debate that some African American children who enter school speak so differently from Standard English that their teachers often do not understand them etc. are understandable for Fillmore. Another idea is to help teachers understand the characteristics of their speech so the can lead them to an awareness of the difference.

7 2.) ”It is intended to help teachers show children how to translate their words from‘home language‘ to the ‚language of wider communication‘.“ (San Francisco Chronicle 12/20) „In the real world of colleges and commerce and communication, it‘s not OK to speak Ebonics as a primary language. Job recruiters don‘t bring along a translator.“ (Examiner 12/20)

8 ”All because the school board voted to treat black English like any other primary language spoken by students.“ (Chronicle 12/24) ”Ebonics Isn‘t a Language“ (Examiner 12/25) ”Elevating black English to the status of a language.“ (Examiner 12/25)

9 3.) Fillmore thinks that African American children should learn the language of the community so that they can achieve their goals in that community. It is not a matter of displaying respect for the children‘s home language. Teachers must make students aware of the differences and must sensitize to a language they have wanted to believe it does not exist.

10 ”The OUSD school board proposal is that the work of helping speakers of black English to learn the language of the school will be easier and more effective if it is seen as building on a home language whose properties the children are encouraged to examine, rather than as an endless process of ‚correcting mistakes‘.“ If that is all the new policy achieves, it will have been worth it! (Fillmore)

11 Fillmore‘s conclusion: ”A child who can say freely, ”In my dialect we say it like this“ is better able to profit from a language- learning experience than a child who is simply always told that everything he says is ‚wrong‘!“

12 Refernces:


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