John R. Rickford is the J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor of Linguistics, emeritus, at Stanford University. He received his BA with highest honors in Sociolinguistics from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) in 1971, and his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1979. Born in Georgetown, Guyana, South America, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1992. He taught at the University of Guyana from 1974-80, joined the faculty of Linguistics at Stanford in 1980 and retired in 2019. He received a Dean’s Award for distinguished teaching in 1984, a Bing Fellowship for excellence in teaching in 1992, and a President?s Award for Excellence through Diversity in 2018. He also won the Alumni Achievement Award from UCSC in 2009. President of the Linguistic Society of America in 2015, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017, and of the National Academy of Sciences in 2021. He is married to Angela, emerita professor of Literacy and Special Education at San José State University. They have four children (Shiyama, Russell, Anakela and Luke), and six grandchildren (Nyla, Lance, Anaya, Kai, Miles and Bailey).

Research Interests

John's interests include sociolinguistics, especially the relation between language and ethnicity, social class and style, language variation and change, pidgin and creole languages, Caribbean and African American Vernacular English, and the application of linguistics to educational and social problems. He is the author or co-author of numerous scholarly articles, including "Suite for Ebony and Phonics" (Discover 1997), and "Racial Disparities in Automated Speech Recognition" (PNAS 2019), and others that can be accessed on his website. He has also authored or co-authored several books, including Dimensions of a Creole Continuum (1987), African American Vernacular English (1999), Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English (2000), which won an American Book Award, and Variation and Change in Sociolinguistics and Creole Studies (2019). He is also editor or co-editor of Sociolinguistics and Pidgin-Creole Studies (1987), Analyzing Variation in Language (1987), African American English (1998), Creole Genesis, Attitudes and Discourse (1999), Style and Sociolinguistic Variation (2002), Language in the USA (2004), Language, Culture and Caribbean Identity (2012), and Raciolinguistics: How Language Shapes Our Ideas About Race (2016), and he is the subject of The Routledge Companion to the Work of John R. Rickford, ed. by Renée Blake and Isa Buchstaller (2020).

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Primary Section

Section 52: Psychological and Cognitive Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 51: Anthropology