In the interview, I pointed out that Ebonics (African American Vernacular English) is a valid form of human language, with all the linguistic properties of French, Spanish, or any other language. I suggested that a combination of phonological, grammatical, and lexical features of AAVE could easily combine to render it not understandable to people unfamiliar with this language variety, and I gave a couple of examples (not included in the video):
She be working at Publix.I also offered the opinion that there might be ethical issues involved when professional linguists take on the task of helping the DEA carry out its policies, and I drew the analogy with the American Anthropological Association's resolution condemning the use of anthropologists by the military in the "Human Terrains System" in Iraq and elsewhere. This sort of made it into the video, though they didn't show me saying it.
It's a book on the floor.*
However, what's really interesting are the comments posted by people who saw the report. Here's a sample:
There was at least one relatively positive comment:
Back in the late 80's while in college, I took a linguistics class. The teacher was black, of an island nation not Africa (This is relevant due to the topic). I don't recall the details, but he did make a convincing stand regarding Ebonics as a dialect. I know Ebonics just sounds like a bunch of uneducated talk, but before you jump educate yourself a bit.It's interesting. As of this writing, there are about 150 comments posted, nearly all deriding, in one way or another, the idea that Ebonics could be a language. This suggests a catastrophic failure of the public school "language arts" curriculum. If the topic were physics, most people would defer to the physicists; if the topic were digestion, even though most people can digest food, they would still defer to the gastroenterologists. But if the topic is language, everyone thinks they're a linguist.
*She works at Publix (it's her job, she may not be there right now).
There is a book on the floor.