Education: Outcry over Wuff Tickets

Black English vs. standard usage in the courtroom

Many of the black kids at Ann Arbor's Green Road Housing Project in Michigan do not talk much like their well-to-do white classmates at the neighborhood King elementary school. Some of it is simple pronunciation: "We do maf work" for "We do mathematics work." Some of the differences lie in odd verb tenses: "She-ah hit us" for "She will hit us." More often the difference involves the verb "to be." Green Readers say, "He be gone" when they mean, "He is gone a good deal of the time"; "He been gone" when they mean,...

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