Ebonics: The Subject Still Stirs Strong Feelings

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Thu Jul 26 12:32:12 UTC 2007

Of course we need to challenge the terms. But I get tired of the
parochialism of  academics castigating themselves because of this
terminology, as if it's only an American (or British) phenomenon, when it's
been around for quite some time.  In my previous response, I could have
shown how it goes back to the French Revolution, and that the notion of
"mother tongue" also comes from that era.  One could also say the same thing
about notions of what is a "language" and what is only a "dialect" in South
Asia, to look beyond our parochial borders. So let's not be ahistorical. One
of my pet peeves is the narrow focus of most scholarship on language
policy--students in particular have to be dragged kicking and screaming to
get them to even glance at studies of other cultures, and to see how broadly
distributed these phenomena are.


On 7/26/07, Anthea Fraser Gupta <A.F.Gupta at leeds.ac.uk> wrote:
> Rodney is right to say that my question related to the need to challenge
> the terms. I suppose I am just so shocked that this assumption that if
> you don't use Standard English you don't have language is being
> unchecked. Similar things happen in the UK, with alingualism usually
> (but not always) associated with class rather than with ethnicity.
> Anthea
> *     *     *     *     *
> Anthea Fraser Gupta (Dr)
> School of English, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT
> <www.leeds.ac.uk/english/staff/afg>
> NB: Reply to a.f.gupta at leeds.ac.uk
> *     *     *     *     *
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: owner-lgpolicy-list at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
> > [mailto:owner-lgpolicy-list at ccat.sas.upenn.edu] On Behalf Of
> > Rodney K Hopson
> > Sent: 26 July 2007 09:27
> > To: lgpolicy-list at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
> > Subject: Re: Ebonics: The Subject Still Stirs Strong Feelings
> >
> > And, wasn't Anthea's question related to the challenge of
> > terminology rather than the historical connection (not that
> > one could necessarily divorce the two)?  This sounds as much
> > political as historical, no?
> >
> > --
> > Rodney K. Hopson
> > Hillman Distinguished Professor
> > Department of Foundations and Leadership School of Education
> > Duquesne University 600 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15282-0540 USA


Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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