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Ebonics Terms You Didn't Know You Knew

Maya Richard-Craven |
February 4, 2014 | 8:32 p.m. PST

Staff Writer

Many people think of Ebonics as "black slang," while linguists refer to the dialect as "AAVE," or African-American Vernacular English. According to author Clara Schwarz, 80-90 percent of African-Americans today can speak fluent Ebonics.

Did you know that Ebonics comes from a mixture of Creole, Western Guyanese dialects and even Irish vernacular?

Contrary to popular belief, Ebonics does span across racial borders in contemporary American culture. Much of the White-American population in the rural, southern United States, speaks in specific dialects that are extremely similar to Ebonics

 1. Be: In Ebonics, linking verbs are replaced with "be." This tendency formed when slaves began to learn English, and still folllowed grammatical rules of Niger-Congo languages. 


2. Boo Boo: Means "a stupid way of acting" in Bantu. 

3. Cool: "Calm or controlled," stems from Mandingo suma word 'slow.' 
4. Hip: Derived from the Wolofi word "hipi," meaning to be aware. ex: adj. hip, or n. hippy, hippies, hip-hop music. 
5. Swagger: Comes from the Mende word "suwangc," meaning to be proud of. 
6. Jitterbug: In Mandinko, a "jito-bag" is someone who enjoys dancing often. 
7. Tote: Means "Carry," and stems from the Kongo and Swahili roots "tota" and "tuta." 
Maya Richard-Craven Staff Writer here



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