Language Conflict In African American English

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Language conflict can be experienced by people in virtually every culture and place, varying by every race and language. Language conflict is when the language or dialect spoke at home differs from what the mainstream society speaks. This is an issue so many people deal with every day, including the most prestigious people. Some of those people include Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Graylen Todd Graham, and John Baugh. In this essay, I will be describing and evaluating these individuals in order on how they experienced their individual language conflicts and how they responded to them. After describing the different language conflicts these people experienced, I will explain my personal opinion on the way they each responded. Following…show more content…
Baugh grew up with well-educated parents who taught him the importance of Standard English. Growing up in Philadelphia, where kids spoke in an African American vernacular at school made him an outsider. Baugh addresses that he feared sounding “lame” or in other words he would be considered uncool because he couldn’t communicate effectively without conforming to the mainstream way of speaking (9). To avoid this; Baugh responded by code-switching, or changing his way of speaking based on how the people around him spoke. Baugh faced a second language conflict when he moved to Los Angeles, where the speaking styles differed from the ones he experienced in Philadelphia. While he was in Los Angeles, he didn’t consider making friends with anyone else other than other black people, because those were the kind of people he was used to back in Philadelphia. So in Baugh’s second experience with language conflict, he began to mock people learning English as second language thinking he had “linguistic superiority” (9). This linguistic profiling was Baugh’s attempt to impress other African American students he wanted to acquaint. Baugh states that he realizes now that his actions as a kid were immature, and he regrets his racist…show more content…
With this situation, I was privileged enough to not experience any drastic language conflicts throughout my lifetime. The only language conflict I have experienced has been with my fair use of Ebonics. I have acquired this way of speaking from my longtime friends who are African American and also other friends of different races who spoke in this dialect. I occasionally will accidentally speak or use a word in this dialect at home that my parents are not familiar with. They would either not understand what I am trying to say, or they would urge me not to speak that way. The same circumstance would occur in vice versa when I would speak in Standard English with friends, and they would inform me that I was speaking very “white.” These light criticisms never really bothered me, I just thought of them as instances of unconscious mistakes I would make, and I never really thought of it as a big deal. I have also experienced the same language conflict in school and in work settings, where it’s preferred to speak professionally, which is considered Standard English. There have been instances where I have informally said “whattup” and “peace out” to my superiors such as my teachers and supervisors. Luckily, I tend to create good relationships with my educators and bosses, so during these slightly embarrassing mistakes, they never really seemed to
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