College Of Arts and Sciences | Ebonics: The Controversy over African-American English
E103 | 0047 | Davis, S.


The recent decision of the Oakland (California) School Board
declaring Ebonics a separate language has put the controversy over
African American English in the national limelight.  The controversy
is multi-faceted.  There is the basic question of just what is
Ebonics.  Is it a separate language, a dialect, slang, bad grammar,
broken English, or really not a distinct entity? There is the issue
of its portrayal in the popular media as well as the controversy over
its use within African-American community. There is also the matter
of its origins and history. Are its origins traceable to the language
systems of Africa or is it a variant of Southern English? Further,
there is a practical question of how to approach the education of
African-American children whose home speech is Ebonics. Should a goal
in the education of these children be the purging of Ebonics so that
it does not interfere with the mastery of Standard English, or should
Ebonics be used as a vehicle for learning Standard English? This
course will deal with these and other issues regarding Ebonics
through readings, films, small and large group discussions, writing
assignments and lectures. The course grade will be based on homework
assignments, participation in discussion, and three exams.