cover of book

Out of the Mouths of Slaves: African American Language and Educational Malpractice
by John Baugh
introduction by William Labov
University of Texas Press, 1999
Paper: 978-0-292-70873-0
Library of Congress Classification PE3102.N42B39 1999
Dewey Decimal Classification 427.97308996073


Winner, A Choice Outstanding Academic Book

When the Oakland, California, school board called African American English "Ebonics" and claimed that it "is not a black dialect or any dialect of English," they reignited a debate over language, race, and culture that reaches back to the era of slavery in the United States. In this book, John Baugh, an authority on African American English, sets new parameters for the debate by dissecting and challenging many of the prevailing myths about African American language and its place in American society.

Baugh's inquiry ranges from the origins of African American English among slaves and their descendants to its recent adoption by standard English speakers of various races. Some of the topics he considers include practices and malpractices for educating language minority students, linguistic discrimination in the administration of justice, cross-cultural communication between Blacks and whites, and specific linguistic aspects of African American English. This detailed overview of the main points of debate about African American language will be important reading for both scholars and the concerned public.

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