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Using Different Englishes

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Flaireese
Words 636
Pages 3
Felicia Walker
Prof. Farah Habib
Eng. 101/A2A
3/10/16
Mid Term Exam Essay Using Different English’s

As an African American woman I face multiple barriers every day. Language has always been one of them. People often expect me to speak a certain way based on stereotypes they have grown up with or have been taught. I find that I use multiple forms of the language on a regular basis to relate to the different groups of people that I am around. Although I do speak “Ebonics”, too often people assume that is all I can speak. However, I can also converse quite fluently in proper English over many domains. I always enjoy seeing the surprise on people’s faces when my articulation is not what they anticipated, or when they see me switch seamlessly between them.
The common misconception is that all African Americans speak, “Ebonics.” So people automatically expect that I will speak Ebonics. According to the Linguistics Society of America, Ebonics means “black speech.” They also state that this term was created in 1973 by a group of black scholars who disliked the negative connotations of terms like 'Nonstandard Negro English' that had been coined in the 1960s when the first modern large-scale linguistic studies of African American speech-communities began. Well, I grew up in the late 60s and with both my parents being educators, and from the south. Education and proper diction was a thing in our house, primarily because of their southern accent.
In addition, they go on to report: “The term Ebonics never caught on among linguists, much less among the general public. That all changed with the 'Ebonics' controversy of December 1996 when the Oakland (CA) School Board recognized it as the 'primary' language of its majority African American students and resolved to take it into account in teaching them standard or academic English.” Ebonics is basically it is the use of slang words. As a teen, growing up with my peers I spoke slang words as a primary form of communication. However, again with both my parents being teachers, one handwriting and science. The other language arts, at home I spoke something else entirely. Proper diction was always required. I learned to speak fluently proper English at home, in school, or church environments. But with my friends I spoke street slang or Ebonics. This is how I to learn to “Talk the Talk “and change my articulation from when I was with friends or with my parents.

However, as an adult I realized that way of speaking was not required in certain arenas. Specifically, when I deal with the teachers or the principal at my children’s school it is necessary for me to articulate my point as an educated parent. Just last Friday, I received a phone call from the assistant principal regarding my daughter’s attendance. The tone and the manner in which I was addressed was condescending at best. Indicating she had already stereotyped me to be a certain way. She expected that I did not comprehend the importance of good attendance. Therefore, she was blown away when I began to speak in defense of my daughter, it was evident with the change of her tone.

Over the years I have found it easy to toggle between multiple forms of speech depending on the forum and/or the company I am in. for example; I often change my manner of English from when I speak on the phone, to speaking professionally, to how I converse with my family. Which is also different from when I am in a professional setting such as a political forum, or a real estate transaction, to teaching my students depending on the age group I am addressing. I will then I speak in the appropriate English for that group.…...

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