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Ebonics–A Rule-Governed Language


Where does the English language come from? The English language can be linked to tribes that existed a few thousand years ago. It has evolved not looking and sounding like any of the language from which it originated.

After being brought to the UK by Germanic tribes and other sources, it came under the influence of Latin and Greek during the days of St. Augustine and company who brought Christianity to the UK. Next, the language melded with Danish after which it was transformed to French.

The English language, a variety of languages from the very beginning,  spanned from Old English, Middle English, and finally standard English.

Ebonics, or African American Vernacular also came from a variety of languages.  The use of the language in many communities worldwide stems from popular culture influences from rap musicians to the Southern vernacular. especially in various parts of the United States. It is believed that Ebonics came from a mix of African languages, creole and pidgin, which came under the influence of English in the United States before the Civil War.

The language is rule-governed, which makes it different from slang and other nonstandard English. For example, the verb to be stays in the infinitive when it is conjugated with pronouns: I be, you be, he be and so on. Other words that are considered part of AAVE such as ax (asked) had been used by white people in the United States some 200 years ago. Finally, the most common form of AAVE drops the is and are form in a contraction so instead of saying she’s going, interlocutors say she going.

Positive and negative attitudes toward standard and nonstandard speech are extended to the speakers themselves. Speakers of nonstandard forms are thought to be uneducated, but increasingly that is not the case as more people speak both standard and nonstandard English, depending upon the speech community in which the are interacting.

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