Yesterday, my friend told me that her sister, who teaches English to elementary school students in Florida are NOT allowed to correct their grammar and pronunciation if they use AAVE during class. Apparently, it “takes away from their self esteem” and “makes them uncomfortable in what should be a nurturing learning environment.” This is public school, but the way.
I have absolutely nothing against AAVE/Ebonics/Black Verncular/insert p.c. term here used at home or among friends, but public school should teach students should standard English in their English classrooms. What’s really going to make them feel uncomfortable is after high school, when they try to find a job or write a college paper in African American Vernacular Language. Have you ever seen an academic paper written in Ebonics? NO. For those of you (or really just Virginia) who are unfamiliar with AAVE, here is a brief description from Wiki:
Its pronunciation is in some respects common to Southern American English, which is spoken by many African Americans and many non-African Americans in the United States. There is little regional variation among speakers of AAVE.Several creolists, including William Stewart, John Dillard, and John Rickford argue that AAVE shares so many characteristics with Creoledialects spoken by black people in much of the world that AAVE itself is a creole.It has been suggested that AAVE has grammatical structures in common with West African languagesor even that AAVE is best described as an African based language with English words.[3
And a small sample of the pronunciation differences from Wiki:
- Word-final devoicing of /b/, /d/, and /ɡ/, whereby for example cub sounds like cup.[
- The most distinguishing feature of AAVE is the use of forms of be to mark aspect in verb phrases. The use or lack of a form of becan indicate whether the performance of the verb is of a habitual nature. In SAE, this can be expressed only using adverbs such as usually.[
- Use of ain’t as a general negative indicator. It can be used where Standard English would use am not, isn’t, aren’t, haven’t and hasn’t, a trait which is not specific to AAVE. However, in marked contrast to other varieties of English in the U.S., some speakers of AAVE also use ain’t in lieu of don’t, doesn’t, or didn’t (e.g., I ain’t know that). Ain’t had its origins in common English, but became increasingly stigmatized since the 19th century. See also amn’t.
- double negation
Of all the problems in American public schools, I can honestly say that this is the most disconcerting. It’s absolutely ridiculous that public schools are so stuck on being politically correct that they refuse to teach standard English in an English classroom. I mean, I can’t even pretend to understand an inkling of African American culture, but I honestly think that speaking standard English is absolutely necessary in an academic or professional setting. Vernacular is fine at home or in a casual setting, but at work or college, AAVE isn’t nearly as accepted. Thus, it should be corrected at a public school setting.