printability and standardization

Ronald Kephart rkephart at
Sat Jan 10 16:33:21 UTC 2004

At 6:11 PM -0500 1/9/04, Christina Paulston wrote:

>Would any of you white linguists really want to argue that your
>superior linguistic knowledge gives you the right to argue with
>inner city Black parents that their children should learn to read
>in AAVE...

I'm not sure that "argue" is the mode I would want to engage in. But
as a "white" linguist, I have no problem explaining to them what the
research shows about these matters and then leaving the ultimate
decision to them. They are rational people, after all; I think we
have a responsibility to see to it that they should have all the
information they need to make informed decisions. Truth, as uncovered
by rational inquiry, is not owned by any particular "color" of people.

Come to think of it, I have "argued" with both "black" and "white"
students in class about the nature of AAVE. Sitting back and
accepting whatever they've been told about it as scientific,
linguistic truth is not responsible, in my opinion. My strategy is to
work thru the properties of human language first, and then show them
that AAVE has all those properties. I then suggest that people who
want to remain insistent that AAVE is not a "proper" language have
only racism to hide behind, since the objective and scientific
evidence is against them.

Ronald Kephart
Sociology, Anthropology, & Criminal Justice
University of North Florida

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