Ebonics is a topic that has been the center of much controversy since late 1996. In order to understand the controversy, you must first understand what Ebonics is and how it applies to education. You must also understand how Ebonics evolved.
What is Ebonics?.
Ebonics is a language system with its own vocabulary, rules of grammar, and structure. It is also known as African American Vernacular English. It is a dialect of English that is spoken by African Americans. Ebonics is spoken all over the United States, but is especially prevalent in large urban areas. (Oubre).
The word "Ebonics" comes from the root words "ebo" and "phonics". "Ebo" is short for ebony, the color black. "Phonics" is derived from the word phonetics, the representation of sounds with symbols. Literally it means "Black sounds." (Dillard).
The vocabulary of Ebonics is relatively easy to learn. The idiomatic rules and syntactical structure of the language is difficult to master. Ebonics involves not only the words that are spoken, but also the tonal patterns and inflections of the voice. This is referred to as tonal semantics. Tonal semantics is the use of the voice, rhythm, and tonal inflection to convey meaning. This technique is used to communicate at deeper levels that words alone cannot convey. It is sometimes described as being song-like or musical. Some examples of tonal semantics include shouting, repetition, use of rhyme, intonational contouring, and use of alliterations. (Landrum-Brown, Ph.D.).
There are many idiomatic rules that contribute to the syntactical structure of Ebonics. Take note that the greatest differences between black and white English involve grammatical structure. I will now list and explain these idiomatic rules. First, habitual action is indicated through verb structure, particularly with the use of the word "be." Any time an action happens over a period of time, "be" is used in front of the verb.