The Ebonics Debate Essay Research Paper The

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The Ebonics Debate Essay, Research Paper The Ebonics Debate On December 18th, 1996, the Oakland Unified School District adopted Ebonics, a terms which is a combination of the words ebony and phonics used to describe the African-American vernacular, as a language. Since then it seems wether on talk shows, newspaper editorials or television news, everyone wants to offer their opinion. This paper will examine two very different points of view, and decide which arguments proves to be stronger. In Charles J. Fillmore=s article AA Linguist Looks at the Ebonics Debate@ the enthymeme states this resolution is necessary in A(b)uilding on the language the children have to help them acquire the language they need to learn in school@(2). He states that most people are misinformed about

the intentions of the school district as well as the problem at hand. In Chuck Sambar=s article AEbonics@ a contrasting view is offered. The enthymeme of the article is as follows: AThe decision of the Oakland School District to put itself on the map of educational nonsense has been fast, broad based, and unrelenting@(1). He argues that everyone=s time and money could be much better spent on more important issues in today=s school system. The following three paragraph=s will examine the ethos, pathos, and logos elements of the two debates. I will then examine the two articles using Toulmin=s scheme, to decide which arguments is most sound by examining the claims, grounds, backing, warrant, and then the qualifier of each article. Before examining the two articles in question, it

is necessary to establish whether the two authors have the credibility needed to write the articles. Charles Fillmore, being a professor of linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, a master in the field of linguistics and language, holds a unique position to offer his views of the situation. Chuck Sambar, a newspaper columnist, may have the ability to capture a reader in emotional appeal and sensationalistic headlines, he is hardly in a position to offer an intellectual take on this issue. This only confuses facts for his audience just as the news media often jumps to grab the big headlines and hastily reports on only part of the story at hand. Sambar relies purely on emotional appeal to convince his reader. He uses terms such as Ahair brained@ and Asingle-minded@

to describe the school board=s resolution and offers no cause to warrant his name calling(1). He tells about the amazing sense of accomplishment that students of English feel when they conquer the difficult concepts of the language and implies that with the resolution these children would be deprived of such feelings. Fillmore, believing the issue is strictly empirical, chooses not to evoke emotional appeal but relies on the common sense of the reader backing his views even further. Upon initial scrutiny of the logical structure of each argument, the validity of Fillmore=s debate becomes evident. Alternately, from the beginning of Sambar=s argument his logic shows flaws that continue throughout the article. From Fillmore=s opening paragraph his logic is stated in a clear and

up-front manner. He explains that the root of the debate lies in the confusion of the term=s dialect and language. He then goes on to explain the two in a manner that sets up the logical shell for the rest of the argument. His logic is grounded not only by the understanding of the terms in question but in his understanding of the Oakland school system=s resolution itself. It is unclear if Sambar has even read the resolution much less if he understands its objective. His logic is based on the idea that Ebonics should be kept in the home of the students and out of the schools. He states that A(t)his land of the free and home of the brave was built on the cultural richness and diversity of many people…(A)nd regardless where they went or what they did, they learned to talk to their