Linguistics Chapter 16 Instructors Manual This Covers Explanation Moral Panic And Moral Entrepreneurcrusader

Document Type
Homework Help
Book Title
English with an Accent: Language-- Ideology and Discrimination in the United States 2nd Edition
Rosina Lippi-Green
Chapter 16
Instructors Manual
This chapter covers:
An explanation of moral panic and moral entrepreneur/crusader
The ten stages of a moral panic
The Oakland Ebonics Controversy of 1996-1997, in which the Oakland, CA School
Board proposed to use AAVE in the classroom in order to teach AAVE-speaking
children *SAE
The ten stages of the moral panic over the Oakland Ebonics Controversy of 1996-1997
Sample answers to the questions from the text and the website
From the textbook
1. Perhaps the best popular illustration of how a moral panic originates is found in The Music
Man, a musical comedy that first appeared on stage and later, on film. A con man comes to
small town Iowa; his first step is to engage the trust of the community. He consults an old friend
as hes considering his approach. Clips of this small segment can be found on YouTube (search
The Music Man and Ya Got Trouble together). This is in fact a comedy, but it does a good
job of demonstrating the whole process in a short time. Have a look at it and decide who Harold
Hill is: moral entrepreneur or devil?
2. This question was posed in the chapter: If African Americans are indeed Americans, why
would they want to claim allegiance to a language other than American English? Here is a
hypothetical response. Does it compare? How, or how not?
What do you mean, you want to go home? So you own a home of your own, but we
went to such trouble to make a comfortable spot for you in the servants quarters.
3. Select two or three clips provided in the case study and do a close reading and analysis. How
do they (or dont they) fit into the language subordination model?
Sample answer: I chose to analyze the following clips provided in this chapter:
School Board 24 in western Queens last week became the first in the city to officially ban
Ebonics, or so-called black English, from its classrooms. Board members voted
unanimously Thursday night to reject any recognition of Ebonics as a distinct and
4. In his article about his own involvement in the Oakland controversy, John Rickford talks a
little about how linguists experienced personal fallout from the public:
One thing that I naively did not expect was the subtle and not-so-subtle
nastiness that issues of language can elicit from the public. I encountered
this in the occasionally severe distortions of information which I had
shared with reporters in good faith, and in the hate mail which my
quoted remarks in the press elicited. One example of distortive reporting
was Jacob Heilbrunns Ebonics article in the January 20, 1997 issue of
The New Republic, to which I responded with a letter in the March 3, 1997
issue. One example of the hate mail was a postcard I received addressed
to John Rickford, Linguistics Professor (God Help Us All) which
included, alongside a newspaper report of my remarks at the 1997 LSA
meeting, the comment: Its just amazing how much crap you so-called
scholars can pour and get away with. Can you wonder, John Boy, why
the general public does not trust either educators, judges or politicians?
As a brother might say, Ee Bonic be a bunch a booshit man, but it get de
muny offa de White man. He be a sucka. Geoff Pullum also got hate
mail for his Nature piece, as did Rosina Lippi-Green for her New York
Times letter to the editor in December 1996. It comes with the territory
(Rickford 1999c).
Below is the letter mentioned in Rickfords article, which I wrote to The New York Times
after they published an editorial on the Oakland controversy. Following that are partial
transcripts of two of the many letters I received through the mail. Questions for discussion
December 26, 1996
To the Editor:
In your Dec. 24 editorial „„Linguistic Confusion‟‟ you demonstrate
considerable confusion of your own.
The body of research on the history of that variety of American English
called Black English or African American Vernacular English is anything
but „„dubious.‟‟ Because the school board in Oakland, Calif., prefers the
term „„ebonics‟‟ does not change the well-documented body of empirical,
quantitative socio-linguistics that underlies what we know about the
history and structure of that language. A more thorough examination of
the topic would have provided you with input from linguists who could
make the facts available to you.
This is yet another example of the medias biased reporting on language
issues, in its self-appointed role as arbiter of a spoken „„standard‟‟
language -- a mythical beast you will never define with any clarity
because it does not exist.
Discrimination on the basis of language variation linked to race, national
origin and economics exists not because the language is worthless or less
than functional, but because newspapers and other voices of authority
insist that such discrimination is right and because we have been pushing
that message for so long that most people no longer think to examine the
false logic and spurious common-sense arguments.
You and other papers have printed strong criticism of the Oakland
boards action by prominent and intellectual African-Americans, but you
have not sought out those who would speak rationally to the other side of
this issue. There are interviews with Maya Angelou but none with the
Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison. The Rev. Jesse Jackson has drowned
out James Baldwins famous 1979 editorial „„If Black English Isnt a
Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?‟‟
If you cannot look to your own archives, go to the major research
universities in this country where African-American and other linguists
have produced a significant body of work that might have given you some
facts to work with. I suggest you start with the linguists John Rickford,
John Baugh and Geneva Smitherman.
ROSINA LIPPI-GREEN Ann Arbor, Mich., Dec. 24, 1996
The writer is an associate professor of linguistics, University of Michigan.
Responses sent through the mail to me, excerpted:
You should be ashamed of yourself. You know better. You SHOULD know
better. Did you get where you are today talking Black?
I agree with you that we need to be more open minded about language.
What I wish is that Pig Latin would be accepted. It fits right in there with
What assumptions are the letter writers working with? Why might they have come to such
conclusions? What are the primary emotions that come across?
Sample answer: These letter writers are working with the assumption that AAVE is not a
From the website
1. Listen to the samples of African American English from several areas of the United States.
What do you think about these varieties of AAVE being used in the classroom? Explain why you
feel the way you do.
Sample answer: I think it would be good to have teachers and students who speak these varieties
1. Based on the information in this video clip, compare and contrast the program in San
Bernadino County, CA with the program proposed by the Oakland School Board in 1996 that
sparked the Oakland Ebonics Controversy. What are the similarities and differences in the
programs? What are the similarities and differences in the arguments for and against the use of
AAVE in schools that cropped up as a result of these programs?
Sample answer: The two programs are similar because both programs were implemented with
the goal of helping AAVE-speaking children succeed in school and both programs were met with
Suggested activities and discussion questions
1. Ask the students to review all the arguments for and against Oakland School Boards proposal.
Which do they find most compelling and why? What do they think about the use of AAVE in
classrooms? Have their opinions changed at all after reading this chapter?
2. Ask the students to reflect on the role of the educational system in the language subordination
process. What (if anything) can or should be done to minimize the problem of linguistic
3. Ask the students to design an interview study in order to find out what people in your area

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