Re: Ebonics

Subject: Re: Ebonics
From: Kent Newton <KentN -at- METRIX-INC -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 20 Dec 1996 18:20:40 -0600

As an example of Black English, , Walt Wolfram and Ralph Fasold
translated Chapter 3 of the Gospel of St. John into Black English, using
a spelling close the SE.**

"It was a man named Nicodemus. He was a leader of the Jews. This man,
he come to Jesus in the night and say, 'Rabbi, we know you a teacher
that come from God, cause can't nobody do the things you be doing 'cept
he got God with him.'

"Jesus, he tell him say, 'This ain't no jive, if a man ain't born over
again, ain't no way he gonna get to know God.'

"Then Nicodemus, he ask him, 'How a man gonna be born when he already
old? Can't nobody go back inside his mother and get born.'

"So Jesus tell him, say, 'This ain't no jive, this the truth. The
onliest way a man gonna get to know God, he got to get born regular and
he got to get born from the Holy Spirit...' "

**Source: The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language.

An observation about the quote :

There is only one slang term in the example (jive, which may no longer
even be considered slang). I think the examples some people have
provided as Ebonics (fly, whack, word up) are not Ebonics as much as
they are hip-hop or slang. Ebonics, or Black English, as I understand
it, is really defined by its unique sentence structure, verb
constructions, and phonetics -- not the use slang terminology, which
changes from generation to generation. The other elements, however,
remain consistent through each generation.

Kent Newton
Senior Technical Writer
Metrix, Inc.
kentn -at- metrix-inc -dot- com

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