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An offshoot threat from the original looking at a subject of race that has always intrigued me. I see it as pertinent to the discussion and often an example of profiling. So as I walked the dog I tried to understand why it exists and how it impacts the whole scheme

Ebonics: The set of vernacular or nonstandard varieties of English spoken by working-class African Americans and often by other African Americans in informal contexts. See Note at Black English.

Growing up in a northern mining enclave of England, I never considered that I had an accent. I understood that I spoke differently to the posh clipped TV news anchors and assumed that that was just how all the people in London spoke. My only other reference point being the Royal Family seemed proof enough. It was only when I started to move around the country that I discovered that there were each area had unique distinct local dialects and that mine was most certainly pigeoned me as working class. It never bothered me much, but there were occasions that it seemed to matter. One funny instance was when I tried to check in at a luxury hotel with my Amex card, and was asked "And where did we obtain this" from the clerk. Upon realizing that my wife was American, the attitude did a quick one eighty.

On coming to the USA some 30+ years ago, I noticed the same regional variation in accents, but not as concentrated and variable as the UK. But one thing stood out, wherever I was I could usually identify and African American by their speech and accent, and this was totally counter to what I saw in the UK. I visit the UK regularly and am always taken back when I hear a strong and impeccable local accent and turn to see that it is obviously someone of Indian, African, Asian descent. I reason that: The first generation was English as a second language. The second generation, English as a first language, with the ethnic language spoken at home. The third generation English only. These subsequent generations learned English from their peers and local community, so it should be of no surprise that they speak with a local accent.

So what happened in America, that Ebonics should be so prevalent across the country. I have read several articles on the subject and gleaned some facts than sifted through the chaff to come up with my own ideas. Firstly Ebonics does vary from region to region taking on some of the traits of the local dialects. Secondly, from my own experience I would not knowingly speak in a manner that made me stand out as different. So I come to the conclusion that Ebonics is that language of the community. Where community can be a varied as local area or an online presence.

So you are left with the question of why would someone speak in a manner that makes them stand out as a member of a racial group. The answer from my own personal experience is that they don't knowingly do so. I have made changes in my speech to be more easily understood, I speak slower, I enunciate every word, I use colloquialisms and think I speak perfect American ya'll. Yet people say, "Where is your accent from". I believe that represents the majority of African Americans. As always there are those on the fringe, who know that accents matter. The rapper who accentuates the differences, the film star who eliminates all traces, the engineer who speaks English at work and Ebonics at home.

My thoughts then went to the Hispanic community, why do they seem to have a better adaption to English. I think it is because the generational pattern of English Second Language, English First Language and English Only seem to apply to the Hispanic community in the USA as it does to the ethnic communities of the UK. The difference being that the transition to English is slowed by community grouping and so the English as a first language stage may take multiple generations. The key difference between Hispanics and African Americans is the starting point, one being a foreign language the other being an English based vernacular. If you are speaking a foreign language the need to change and "fit in" is much greater and you are starting from a clean sheet.

SO to conclude, to profile someone based on their speech pattern or accent is wrong and possibly racist. To ask someone to change their speech pattern for the sake of conformity may seem to be a good idea, until you consider that the starting point would be Boston followed by New York =(:-()
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