Is English even real English?

If you ask someone what Ebonics is, they might be tempted to tell you that it’s the way “ghetto” people speak. They’ll tell you it’s the language of the uneducated. But what those people don’t know is that Ebonics, or more formally African American Vernacular English, is a specific dialect typically spoken by urban, working-class, African Americans.

Though the term “Ebonics” was coined in the early seventies and had been debated among scholars with varying opinions, there wasn’t much of a stir caused until two decades later. According to PBS, in 1996, “the Oakland (California) School Board passed a resolution declaring Ebonics to be the language of 28,000 African-American students in that school district.”

There was backlash – the original proposal even got negative criticism from the Clinton administration.

It was amended slightly and passed but thus hasn’t done anything to remove the stigma.. Rather than any progress being made on the subject, AAVE still has negative connotations due to the severity of ignorance of the masses. Though the issue has since been “resolved,” it seems the idea that AAVE being recognized as a studied language is still laughable and frustrating to some. It’s still seen as an excuse to “speak lazily.” The sad thing is that when other people come to this country, a lot of us can accept that people will mix their native language with English – Spanglish for example – and it’s seen as an acceptable way of communicating. But somehow when working class Americans of color do it, it’s some sin against our founding fathers or something.

Perhaps it’s because those who use Ebonics are products of the United States and so people think they have no excuse not to be able to speak correctly. Given the cultural and historical context, however, it makes sense for the use of Ebonics to be a continuous habit in today’s world considering it’s such a huge part of black identity.

Due to the obnoxiousness of upper-class, typically Euro-centric ideals, it has been widely stigmatized despite being officially deemed a standardized subsect of English. There are notable differences between AAVE and SAE. For example, it’s perfectly acceptable to use “ain’t” instead of “haven’t.” Also pronunciation is a big thing as well. In AAVE, you can say “axe” instead of “ask.” Though apparently, that’s looked down upon.

It’s typically considered bad English, but there are a lot of interesting things regarding AAVE that should make those who speak that way, proud.

AAVE is the reason some modern mainstream slang exists. Terms like “cool,” “cat,” “dig” and “bad” are still in wide use today because of Ebonics.

People don’t consider this side of it though because many of the habits and trends spawning from black people are seen as inferior and defective.

The roots of AAVE specifically comes from the way people spoke in the US during slavery where the African diaspora was essentially forced to communicate by creating a language that was a compromise between numerous African dialects and the English being spoken in the South. On a side note, the illiteracy rate among whites was high in the south at the time, so those who were slaves were doomed from the start in terms of learning English.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense to tell people to learn how to speak English “properly” because chances are, they were taught AAVE growing up. This way of speaking has been instilled in hundreds of generations of black people

Not everyone is going to be able to articulate their thoughts in the same ways. After all, it’s not the language an idea is presented, it’s the intent and effort put into that idea ya dig?