An editor at the Oxford English Dictionary disagrees.
Of course it’s a word, the question is, is it acceptable. There are a lot of things that are acceptable in some situations, and not acceptable in others. “Table” is generally acceptable, but “ass” or “fuck” might not be, In some cases they would. It’s the same for “hopefully” or “irregardless.” They’re all words, but it behooves us to be serious and ask, is it acceptable in this context? If you’re delivering the State of the Union address, maybe “fuck” is not acceptable. If you’re having sex with your girlfriend, maybe it is acceptable.
People feel that there is a certain kind of language that’s appropriate and a certain type that isn’t appropriate. And these judgments are based on many things–some may make sense, some might not. People take these things very seriously. People are told things about the language in school that are demonstrably untrue, and they think anyone who doesn’t follow along with those beliefs is stupid or wrong.
Let me give you an example, in terms of looking at things historically. At the beginning of this conversation you pronounced the word “ask” as “aks.” This is something that people often object to. People say it’s the wrong pronunciation, and it’s stupid. But if you look at the history of the English language, you can’t tell if the correct pronunciation is “aks” or “ask.” The “aks” pronunciation goes back 1000 years. It’s in Beowulf. It’s in Chaucer.
What happened was both were in use. But at some point, the dialect in which the “ask” pronunciation was used became dominant. But both continued and have been in use since then. When you look at America, the “aks” pronunciation is widespread in Southern American English. African-Americans used this because they were in the South–it’s not especially African-American, but its Southern.
UPDATE: Comedy courtesy a commenter in that thread:
“If you’re delivering the State of the Union address, maybe ‘fuck’ is not acceptable.”
This year I would suggest that word as the entire first sentence of the State of the Union address, emphasized as though written with an exclamation mark and followed by a very long pause. I think we would all get it.
UPDATE #2: The pooh-poohing of the validity of Ebonics by black social commentators was always based on a misunderstanding of what proponents of teaching African American Vernacular English (particularly in Oakland) actually wanted. They weren’t pushing for teaching kids slang in classrooms; they were pushing for a recognition that the English kids primarily spoke and heard outside of class was valid if markedly different from standard American English, and carried with it its own syntactical rules. They argued that recognizing AAVE would aid them in helping students understand the rules of standard English. (Double negatives, for example, are a staple of Ebonics.)
This was the basis of a quibble I had with ‘The Wire.’ Every now and again, someone would slide a ‘to be’ verb into the wrong place in a sentence, and it would hit my ears as wrong. It’s quite possible to speak Ebonics improperly.