Honors | College of Arts and Sciences
E103 | 0040 | Davis


The recent decision of the Oakland (California) School Board declaring
Ebonics a separate language has put the controversy over African-American
Vernacular English in the national limelight. This 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. In addition, students enrolled in the Honor's discussion section
will be expected to do extra readings and assignments focusing on the
history and grammar of African-American English.