In 1997, the Oakland Unified School District of California proposed to recognize Ebonics, the dialect used by the majority of its students, in its classrooms. This created an uproar among the media, condemning the school board for a proposal that encourages a bastardization of the English language. But is it truly a bastardization?

The answer is no. If looked at from a linguistic point of view, the language follows a strict set of rules. In fact, it follows a set of rules similar to many forms of major languages around the world, such as Russian, Hungarian, even Italian has similar concepts. The reason it sounds so odd to English speakers is because of the multiple negation of words. It does not mean that it is inferior or for the uneducated, it just means that we as a culture are not used to hearing phrases like “ain’t nobody” or “not none.”

Do I believe that it is different enough to warrant schools actually teaching the language, no, it seems similar enough to be considered a separate dialect of the English (like British English vs. American English) rather than a totally new language . However, they weren’t proposing to teach the language, they were proposing to recognize the language, which simply means that teachers may use it to help get their points across. Studies have shown that this technique has actually proven to be quite helpful for a students ability to learn, which in the end isn’t that the ultimate goal? The outcry that occurred seems completely unjustified.