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Ebonics For Dummies (okay, it has to be at least 20 characters long): Ebonics for dumb dummies.
Sex & Intimacy / 2:34 AM - Wednesday February 11, 2009

Ebonics For Dummies (okay, it has to be at least 20 characters long): Ebonics for dumb dummies.

Since there has apparently been some interest in the subject, I will attempt to enlighten you.

First, I have an MA in Sociology. Obviously, I can use "The King's English." But you know what? I often choose not to, just because it's more convenient to use ebonics. What really amuses me is when people who don't have my education accuse me of not being able to "spell" or use "English" or of being "stupid" flat out because I use ebonics. Well, what doesn't amuse me is that it's racist. What does amuse me is the irony of the situation.

So, ebonics--basic rules:

Grammar is roughly the same (IF you sound the words out and that's the point) as it is in "straight" English.

The words in ebonics are different. Metonyms are used for language (ex. 4 for "for"), vowels are frequently omitted and certain words are spelled by sound rather than "normal" spelling, because it's quicker to type these words. If you were listening to someone talk, it's dubious you would be able to decipher the ebonic usage that you may find confusing in the written form. Some words are outright slang (ex "peeps" for "people"). Some words are recognizable but shortened (ex. "cos" for "because").

The point is that ebonics IS a current cultural dialect. Using it does not mean that you are stupid, but rather that you have mastered a given cultural dialect (unlike some people too dense to sound out basic words and figure out what they mean--I mean, that IS stupid, to me at least).

So, peaz, i don mean 2 soun harsh, b/ sme peeps r dumb! i hvfta scoot 4 d mornin shoot. *smile*



Update: February 11, 2009.
sota: it is not misleading to use my rough set of rules for ebonics. it applies to other cultural forms (including secretarial shorthand in many cases, if you want to get picky about it), but it also applies to ebonics. If you pick up a play by a modern black writer, you will see what I mean--the grammar is roughly the same as it is in the King's English today, the spelling is different and there's some use of metonym. It is similar with other cultural forms that are shaped by ebonics / cultural exchanges that involve ebonics.

Update: February 11, 2009.
sota: No. that's a strawman. I am not even saying that the use of the sort of language often identified as "text" language is a particular type of language--it's a combination of factors and ebonics is one of these factors; it uses many of the same rules as "text" language, as I sed in my post. You would be hard put it to prove that any widespread cultural use hasn't had anything to do with cultural uses that are superficially similar (ex. prove that "rap language" has nothing to do with "text" language. u cant).

Update: February 11, 2009.
sota: you fail to realize that trends and styles of language do not happen in a vacuum. Many Gen. Y cultural patterns evolved from older cultural movements, many of which involved "black" speech or representations of "black" speech.

Update: February 11, 2009.
lasikplus: read some Baraka and tell me black dialect language use has no written component. Did you even graduate from college w a 4 yr degree?

Update: February 11, 2009.
sirkermitt: you're pretending that we need to conform to a particular style of education and writing in order to "convince" others that we are educated. Giving in this way is precisely what the more educated among us (hopefully) are fighting against.

Update: February 11, 2009.
Good question, anonymous. Our current hip hop culture has taken on a lot of aspects of dialects / spelling of African languages and dialects--it's a result of the influence of black culture on young wite bred America. *smile* Note that we say "it bees that way" and that phrase is also the title of an Amiri Baraka poem. Not an accident, class.

- Asked by susycu, A Life of the Party, Female, 26-28, New York

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Very interesting, I didn't know much about ebonics, not to say I had no clue about it.
The thing is though, since for many people on here, English is not their native language, they have difficulties deciphering ebonics. Although it really is closer to what it sounds like, when you read it the first time, it is really confusing.



- Response by rockhopper, An Intellectual Guy, Male, 29-35, Zurich, Who Cares?

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i certainly don't at all believe, as you asked in your previous question, that people who use "ebonics" are "stupid".
but i'm a little confused . . . has "ebonics" taken on new different meaning? originally it was coined to describe a style of African and/or Caribbean American language. What your are describing seems more to be a style of writing.

- Response by A Creative, Male, 36-45, Artist / Musician / Writer

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People should recognize that languages develop and change over time. The "King's English" is FAR from what your average American would consider proper English. Ebonics is a developing language that many sociologists and anthropologists are studying intently and even has regional dialects, not just a cultural one.



- Response by kiltedinseattle, A Creative, Male, 46-55, Seattle, Technical

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I was reading this article that ,

tkeld aubot if the way of the mnid in rnedaig taht if the fsrit a

and lsat leettr of a wrod are in pacle the mnid slitl ancolwkedges the maeinng.

I never identified the style of speech or writing just thought of it as another fun way of communicating.

Also a thought if some one challanged you writing this way I am yhinkinh it ws because the site was inindated with teens durn xmas break.

- Response by morningdust, A Creative, Female, 56-65, Self-Employed

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dear one I respect your use of the language. I also respect your education. your written form of ebonics is some what similar to the language being invented by the young people for the purpose of texting. We have choice in life. I think that rather then dwelling on hate and being bitter that we should recognize reality and work to get better. As I explained to the other poster, ebonics is looked down upon as less educated. Your choice to use it is actually demeaning to the education that you fought so hard for...because belive me I know for a fact that a masters is not something that is super easy to get...it requires allot of time and dedication to get. Why would you want to come accross as less then you are?

Yes many people are still struggling with racist attitudes...but I have noticed that it is often perpetuated by thouse opressed. Martin Luther King never spoke ebonics...he used the power of words (in kings english) and non-violence to change this nation. He very rarely called people racist and spoke only about his dreams and what was right. He spoke the way that he did so that everyone could understand him. Don't you want to be understood by everyone? Why not follow Dr. King's example rather then trying to buck against what works for bettering ourselves, thouse arround us, and our country in general?

- Response by sirkermittsg, A Guy Critical, Male, 36-45, Dallas, Transportation

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Great post. Thanks 4 that.

- Response by kitchencabinet, A Creative, Male, 56-65, Johannesburg, Internet / New Media

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Wow. A masters in Sociology. You must be a genius.

Ebonics is black spoken slang Einstein. It has no written component. What you are describing is text shorthand brought about by cell phones text messaging capability.

You should get your money back from your school.

- Response by lasikplus, A Thinker, Male, 46-55, Boston, Science / Engineering

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From the artist formerly known as "anonymous" in response to your updates: i have read Baraka and yes, certainly dialect and slang or "Ebonics" (and exactly what that word means and describes is a more complicated and interesting conversation), or a representation of what your idea of Ebonics is, can be written. I think part of what others were getting at, and I was as well . . . is the type of writing you're talking about seems more reminiscent of texting than black slang or dialect.

Your definition stating metonyms are used for language and "that words are spelled like they sound rather than "normal" spelling, because it's quicker to type these words", to me doesn't really make it "ebonics". Spelling "have" as "hve" or "problem" as "prblem" is just a style of typing.

- Response by sota13, A Creative, Male, 36-45, Artist / Musician / Writer

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Shouldn't it be the "Queen's English"?

- Response by rodir0n, A Guy Critical, Male, 46-55, Sacramento, Managerial

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no i totally realize that. i'm just saying that to me, it seems strange that you're referring to this PARTICUAR evolution of style as "Ebonics". Certainly it's partly influence by black slang and dialects, but also music and the technology of texting, etc
You said it yourself, you're speaking of a new "Gen. Y cultural pattern", and I wouldn't define Ebonics as a "Gen. Y cultural pattern".

- Response by sota13, A Creative, Male, 36-45, Artist / Musician / Writer

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didn't mean to break out the ol' straw man . . . didn't think i was. i think we're just arguing slightly separate things. All that I'm saying is that when you were claiming to "enlighten" the "dumb dummies" by defining the rules of ebonics . . . in my opinion you were defining something else.
you were laying out the rules for: a "convenient" way to talk and write that is grammatically roughly the same as English, uses Metonyms, omits vowels and spells words the way they sound, and includes some slang words. In my opinion, those aren't the "Basic rules of Ebonics". What you are describing is certainly a completely valid, contemporary, evolving style of speech and writing that is influenced by all kinds of things: texting, hip hop, "black" slang, etc.
I just think that it's misleading to label that as Ebonics.

- Response by sota13, A Creative, Male, 36-45, Artist / Musician / Writer

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:) sorry everyone. Susycu: maybe if we have more to say, we should just continue the conversation privately so we're not flooding these poor people's inboxes with our debate. haha

- Response by sota13, A Creative, Male, 36-45, Artist / Musician / Writer

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logically, "good" communication is one in which the communicatee most quickly understands the communicator's message. ("good" art is a form of communication in which the communicatee is most aesthetically moved by the communicator's message). communication-effective ness refers to a minimal effort exerted by the communicator for maximal understanding by the communicatee.

assuming we can agree on that, I would argue that most people brought up in English-speaking countries understand fully spelled out words in a grammatical order with correct punctuation MORE QUICKLY than creatively spelled words in an unusual order with interesting punctuation.

I would argue that, when one is speaking to "english speakers" in general instead of a particular subgroup, the King's English is a better form of communication than ebonics.

Ebonics' artistic value (which I personally find significant) is irrelevant to its communication-value.

Ebonics' communication-effectiv eness varies depending on who's communicating to who.

- Response by js800, A Thinker, Female, 26-28, Chicago, Student

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