Hardly a new topic, I know, but for this installment of Insane Mumblings, I'm going to rant and rave about Ebonics.
For those of you who remain blissfully ignorant, Ebonics is the name given to Inner city youth street slang. Fine in and of itself; a name means little. The problem lies in the reason behind giving slang an official name. Certain school districts in the US of A have decided to treat Ebonics as a language; it is being taught in schools, and students are writing tests written in slang.
Their reasoning? The School Board Trustees in questions have finally managed to notice that test scores in their areas have been plummeting downwards. Only takes a couple of decades for something like this to sink into the beurocratic skull. Obviously, something needs to be done. But what? There are so many issues to address: poverty, over-crowded classrooms, rampant drug use, teen violence, domestic violence; all these things are considered to be contributing factors.
Of course, then someone points out that, because most inner city kids speak strong slang, they often have difficulty understanding "common" English. Their solution? Maybe start teaching kids how to speak properly? No, no, the bone heads decide that they'll just give up on Proper English, and teach their curriculum in Slang. Of course, they can't call it slang at school, so they give it a fancy name; Ebonics.
Nice train of thought. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. A catchy phrase, but in this case, an idiotic, stop-gap solution. We already have generations of kids graduating high schools (and even colleges and universities) who can't read. Why shouldn't we have a new generation of kids graduating who can't even fucking speak?
You might be wondering why I'm so adamantly opposed to Ebonics. The reason is fairly simple. The basic idea behind language is to facilitate communication. If I am trying to express a concept to you, you must understand the language that I am speaking. The world contains numerous different languages; even with translators, if you don't speak the same lanaguage as the person you are talking to, communication becomes radically more difficult. Hell, its hard enough to communicate properly when someone does speak your language.
There is power in language; but only if that language is understood. Language allows us to communicate; to open ourselves up to new ideas, and to share our ideas with others. Communication with other people is the only true evidence we have that we are not alone in the world. There are many senses and abilities that we take for granted, but the want, indeed, the pathological need to communicate is arguably one of the strongest.
When someone leaves his home country, and travels to a land where they speak a different language, he will most likely run up against the language barrier. An Canadian tourist lost in Italy will likely find it difficult to obtain directions; he will have to hope that he can find someone who speaks English.
With the advent of Ebonics, we are adding yet another layer of confusion to communication. In a few years times, we'll have tourists from California who cannot talk to the locals in North Carolina, because they speak different languages. English in North Carolina, Ebonics in California.
Far from meeting the idealized communication standard hopefully set forward by Esperanto, Ebonics seeks to confuse and confound communication. It is a lazy, short minded, small minded, and fucking simplistic solution to the problem. However, it is typical of the way our governments think. Instead of addressing the core problems at the root of social issues, they slap a band-aid on the problem. They can then run to the press, and proudly proclaim that they are doing their jobs; once again, politicians make the world a better place to live in.
There you have it. The individuals behind Ebonics are morons, more interested in protecting their jobs than solving problems. That's my opinion, anyway. Feel free to disagree. If you do disagree, drop me a line and tell me what you think.
© 1998 by Garry J. Sled