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EBONICS. [From ebony and -ics as in phonics]. An alternative name for AFRICAN-AMERICAN VERNACULAR ENGLISH, used by Robert L. Williams in his book Ebonics: The True Language of Black Folks (Institute of Black Studies, St Louis, Mo., 1975). It became internationally prominent for some months after 18 December 1996, when the board of Oakland Unified School District, California, formally resolved that Ebonics was the first language of most black American children in their area and English the second language, ‘making [Oakland] the first district in the nation to give the dialect official status in programs targeting bilingual students’ ( Mary Curtius, ‘California Educators Give Black English a Voice’, Los Angeles Times, 20 December 1996). Reports of the resolution generated great media attention and public debate in the US, much of it hostile, as a result of which the board in mid-January 1997 issued a restatement from which the assertion that Black English was a distinct language was removed. The outraged response arose largely from a belief among many Americans of all backgrounds that the board wanted to focus on black rather than standard usage while at the same time seeking additional government funds by presenting English as the children's second language and not their mother tongue (in the same way that funds are provided to help many Hispanic children). It was assumed that the board would misuse tax dollars while also depriving the children of a solid grounding in the standard language, a primary tool for their social advancement. The board, however, wished to emphasize that under-achieving black children need linguistic help to bridge the gap between vernacular and standard; one way of doing this is to highlight the differences between the two in the classroom, respecting both and constructively comparing them when teaching the standard.
Ebonics •admix, affix, commix, fix, Hicks, intermix, MI6, mix, nix, Nyx, pix, Pnyx, prix fixe, pyx, Ricks, six, Styx, transfix, Wicks •Aquarobics • radix • appendix •crucifix • suffix • Alex • calyx •Felix, helix •kylix • Horlicks • prolix • spondulicks •hydromechanics • phoenix •Ebonics, onyx •mechatronics • sardonyx •Paralympics • semi-tropics •subtropics • Hendrix •dominatrix, matrix •administratrix • oryx • tortrix •executrix • Beatrix • cicatrix •Essex, Wessex •kinesics • coccyx • Sussex •informatics, mathematics •Dianetics • geopolitics • bioethics •cervix • astrophysics • yikes
E·bon·ics / ēˈbäniks/ • pl. n. [treated as sing.] American black English regarded as a language in its own right rather than as a dialect of standard English.
Ebonics American black English regarded as a language in its own right rather than as a dialect of standard English; the name is a blend of ebony and phonics.
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