Reviewing and Revising an Argument

Making a Logical Appeal Using Tangential Evidence

One of the primary reasons I am claiming the media mishandled the Ebonics issue is that they never asked the right language questions about bilingual education. [Author's point] That is, the media presented it as a dialect issue--teaching Non-Standard English--without examining the language implications of bilingual education. To propose a program of bilingual education, one must first demonstrate that there are two languages involved, Ebonics and English. The appropriateness of teaching both is a separate issue. Yet, the media failed to even consider whether Ebonics can be considered a viable language. [Logical extension of claim of mishandled media attention to the question of Ebonics as a language]
By linguistic definitions, a language can be said to exist when speakers of different dialects no longer understand one another. [Evidence is tangential to point about the media but now relevant through the logical appeal above] Long recognized as a dialect of English, Ebonics (or Black English Vernacular as it is more commonly called) has roots in African languages, Southern dialects, and has been shown to evolve with each new generation. Yet, no linguistic evidence has yet been presented that speakers of English cannot understand someone speaking Ebonics. Similarly, none has been presented to prove Ebonics is not a language. [Tangential evidence on media but relevant to reformed issue of language]
By referring to Ebonics as a language, the media assumed the Oakland School district's definition without any investigation. Further, they turned the issue into an argument about dialect-Standard English versus another form of English-even while discussing Ebonics as a language. Neither perspective is fair or objective: if the media wanted to present a bilingual education issue, they should have dealt with Ebonics as a language. If they wanted to present a dialect issue, they should have demonstrated why Ebonics should not be considered a language. [Logical appeal connects language issue back to point about media, i.e., why failure to look at language definition leads to unfair reporting on Ebonics issue.]
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Introduction