Linguists who work on AAL

On this page, we highlight Black linguists who have contributed to the study of African American Language in the United States. Some have worked on AAL in the variationist sociolinguistic paradigm, while others focus on educational or psycholinguistic questions. This list is not meant to be exhaustive. At the bottom of the page, we include an In Memoriam section.

If you have a suggestion for an addition, or if you are on this list and want to be removed, please contact us at OnlineResourcesAAL@gmail.com.

H. Samy Alim

David O. Sears Presidential Endowed Chair and Professor of Anthropology and African American Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

https://anthro.ucla.edu/faculty/h-samy-alim

April Baker-Bell

Associate Professor of Language, Literacy, and English Education, Department of English, Michigan State University

https://english.msu.edu/faculty/april-baker-bell/

Arnetha Ball

Charles E. Ducommun Endowed Professor (Emerita), Graduate School of Education, Stanford University

http://web.stanford.edu/dept/gse/cgi-bin/arnetha/

John Baugh

Margaret Bush Wilson Professor in Arts & Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis

https://psych.wustl.edu/people/john-baugh

Renée Blake

Associate Professor of Linguistics and Social & Cultural Analysis, New York University

https://as.nyu.edu/faculty/renee-blake.html

Jennifer Bloomquist

Associate Provost for Faculty Development, Dean of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Programs, Professor, Gettysburg College

Faculty Page

Dominique Branson

Ph.D. Student, Department of Linguistics, University of Pittsburgh

https://www.linguistics.pitt.edu/people/dominique-branson

Erica Britt

Associate Professor, University of Michigan Flint

https://umflint.academia.edu/EricaBritt

Kendra Calhoun

Ph.D. Student, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Santa Barbara

https://www.linguistics.ucsb.edu/people/kendra-calhoun

Ian Calloway

Ph.D. Student, Department of Linguistics, University of Michigan

https://lsa.umich.edu/linguistics/people/graduate-students/iccallow.html

Dominique Canning

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Linguistics, University of Michigan

https://lsa.umich.edu/linguistics/people/graduate-students/dominique-canning.html

Anne Charity Hudley

North Hall Endowed Chair in the Linguistics of African America, Affiliate of the School of Education and the Applied Linguistics Program, Director of Undergraduate Research, Office of Undergraduate Education, Faculty Fellow, UCSB Center for Innovative Teaching, Research, and Learning, University of California, Santa Barbara

https://annecharityhudley.com/

Tracy Conner

Visiting Scholar, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Santa Barbara

https://tracyconner.academia.edu/

Charles DeBose

Professor Emeritus, Department of English, Cal State East Bay

https://www.csueastbay.edu/directory/profiles/engl/debosecharles.html

Michel DeGraff

Professor of Linguistics, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

https://linguistics.mit.edu/user/degraff/

Walter F. Edwards

Professor of Linguistics, Director of Humanities Center, Wayne State University

https://research2.wayne.edu/hum/AboutUs/ourstaff.html

Sabriya Fisher

Assistant Professor of Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences, Wellesley College

https://www.sabriya-fisher.com/

Shivonne Gates

Senior Researcher, NatCen Social Research

https://sites.google.com/view/smgates/

Akiemi Glenn

Executive Director, The Pōpolo Project

https://akiemiglenn.net

Shelome Gooden

Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of Pittsburgh

https://www.pitt.edu/~sgooden/

Lisa Green

Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of Massachusetts Amherst

https://people.umass.edu/lisag/

Jessica Grieser

Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of Tennessee Knoxville

https://jessgrieser.wordpress.com/

Shenika Hankerson

Assistant Professor, Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership, University of Maryland

https://education.umd.edu/directory/shenika-hankerson

Joseph Hill

Assistant Professor, Department of ASL and Interpreting Education, Rochester Institute of Technology

https://www.rit.edu/directory/jchnss-joseph-hill

Nicole Holliday

Assistant Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania

https://nicolerholliday.wordpress.com/

Yolanda Holt

Associate Professor, Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, East Carolina University

http://blog.ecu.edu/sites/ppsholt/

Tiffany M. Jones

Ph.D. Student, Department of Anthropology, University of South Carolina

https://tiffanymarquisejones.com/

Sharese King

Neubauer Family Assistant Professor, Department of Linguistics, The University of Chicago

https://www.drshareseking.com/

Sonja Lanehart

Professor of Linguistics, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of Arizona

https://www.sonjallanehart.com/

Qiuana Lopez

Assistant Project Specialist, University of California, Santa Barbara

https://independent.academia.edu/QiuanaLopez

Zion Mengesha

Ph.D. student and Graduate Fellow at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Stanford University

https://about.me/zmengesha

John H. McWhorter

Associate Professor, Center for American Studies, Columbia University

https://americanstudies.columbia.edu/people/john-h-mcwhorter

Carolyn McCaskill

Professor, Department of ASL and Deaf Studies, Gallaudet University

http://blackaslproject.gallaudet.edu/Bios/Carolyn_McCaskill.html

deandre a. miles-hercules

Ph.D. Student, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Santa Barbara

https://www.linguistics.ucsb.edu/people/deandre-miles-hercules

David Mitchell

Assistant Professor, Department of English, Metropolitan State University of Denver

https://webapp.msudenver.edu/directory/profile.php?uName=dmitch58

Claudia Mitchell-Kernan

Professor Emerita, Department of African American Studies, Princeton University

https://aas.princeton.edu/people/claudia-mitchell-kernan

Simanique Moody

Marcyliena Morgan

Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences, Professor of African and African American Studies, Executive Director of the HipHop Archive and Research Institute, Harvard University

https://aaas.fas.harvard.edu/people/marcyliena-morgan

Salikoko Mufwene

Frank J. McLoraine Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of Chicago

http://mufwene.uchicago.edu/

Jamaal Muwwakkil

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Santa Barbara

https://www.linguistics.ucsb.edu/people/jamaal-muwwakkil

Monica Nesbitt

Postdoctoral Fellow, Society of Fellows, Dartmouth College

https://linguistics.dartmouth.edu/people/monica-k-nesbitt-williams

Brandi Newkirk-Turner

Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Communicative Disorders, Jacksonville State University

https://www.jsums.edu/commdisorders/cd-faculty/newkirk-turner-2/

Django Paris

James A. & Cherry A. Banks Professor of Multicultural Education, College of Education, University of Washington

https://education.uw.edu/people/dparis

Staci Perryman-Clark

Associate Professor of English, Department of English, Western Michigan University

https://wmich.edu/english/directory/perryman-clark

Sarah Phillips

Ph.D. Student, Department of Linguistics, New York University

https://sarahfphillips.com/

Jaylen Pittman

Ph.D. Student, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Santa Barbara

https://www.linguistics.ucsb.edu/people/jaylen-pittman

Mackenzie Price

Principal Strategist, Qualitative Researcher, FrameWorks Institute

http://georgetown.academia.edu/MackenzieLPrice

Minnie Quartey

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Linguistics, Georgetown University

Jacquelyn Rahman

Elaine Richardson

Professor, Department of Teaching and Learning, The Ohio State University

https://u.osu.edu/richardson.486/

Angela E. Rickford

Professor, Special Education, San Jose State University

https://www.sjsu.edu/people/angela.rickford/

John Rickford

J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor of the Humanities, Department of Linguistics, Emeritus, Stanford University

http://johnrickford.com/

Harry Seymour

Professor Emeritus, Department of Communication Disorders, University of Massachusetts

https://www.umass.edu/aae/hseymour.htm

Nandi Sims

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Linguistics, The Ohio State University

https://linguistics.osu.edu/people/sims.408

Walter Sistrunk

Assistant Professor, Education and Language Acquisition Department, LaGuardia Community College

http://cuny.is/wsistrunk

Hiram Smith

Assistant Professor of Spanish and Linguistics, Bucknell University

https://www.bucknell.edu/fac-staff/hiram-smith

Geneva Smitherman

University Distinguished Professor Emerita, Department of English, Michigan State University

https://msu.edu/~smither4/

Arthur K. Spears

Professor of Linguistics and Anthropology, The City University of New York

http://arthurkspears.com/

Ida Stockman

Emeritus Faculty, Department of Communicative Sciences & Disorders, Michigan State University

https://comartsci.msu.edu/our-people/ida-stockman

Orlando Taylor

Distinguished Senior Advisor to the President, Fielding Graduate University

https://expertfile.com/experts/orlando.taylorphd

J. Michael Terry

Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

https://unc.academia.edu/JMichaelTerry

Nicole Patton Terry

Associate Professor of Language, Literacy, and English Education, Department of English, Michigan State University

https://english.msu.edu/faculty/april-baker-bell/

Jamie A. Thomas

Assistant Professor of Linguistics, Santa Monica College

https://www.jamieathomas.com/

Denise Troutman

Associate Professor, Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, Department of Linguistics and Languages, Michigan State University

http://linglang.msu.edu/people/faculty/denise-troutman/

Julie A. Washington

Professor and Chair, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Georgia State University

https://education.gsu.edu/profile/julie-washington/

Alicia Beckford Wassink

Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of Washington

https://depts.washington.edu/sociolab/Wassink/Wassink.php/

Rachel Elizabeth Weissler

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Linguistics, Michigan State University

https://sites.google.com/view/rachel-elizabeth-weissler

Tracey Weldon

Associate Professor, Department of English Language and Literature Associate Dean for Diversity, Interdisciplinary Programs and Social Sciences, University of South Carolina

Faculty Website

Bonnie J. Williams

Associate Professor, Department of English, Comparative Literature, and Linguistics, California State University, Fullerton

http://english.fullerton.edu/faculty/profile/b_williams.aspx

Kelly Wright

Ph.D. student, Department of Linguistics, University of Michigan

https://kellywright5.wixsite.com/raciolinguistics

Mary Zeigler

Associate Professor of English Language and Linguistics, English Department, Georgia State University

https://english.gsu.edu/emeritus-faculty/mary-e-brown-zeigler/

 

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William Edward Farrison (1902 - 1985)

Dr. Farrison completed his Ph.D. in linguistics at the Ohio State Univerity in 1936, with his dissertation, The phonology of the illiterate Negro dialect of Guilford County, North Carolina, available here. He taught at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania (1926-1928), West Virginia State (1928-1931), Bennett College (1932-1939), and North Carolina Central University (1939-1970), where he retired. He published numerous articles on the English language, speech, and literature of African Americans, including the definitive biography of William Wells Brown.

Jerrie C. Scott (1944 - 2017)

Dr. Scott completed her Ph.D. in linguistics at the University of Michigan. She authored numerous books and articles, and founded the National African American Read-In. See Sawubona (“I see you”), Jerrie: Continuing the Legacy of the African American Read-In on the National Council of Teachers of English blog, written by Dr. Stephanie Power-Carter and Dr. David E. Kirkland.

Gary Simpkins (1943 - 2009)

Dr. Simpkins completed his Ed.D. at the University of Massachusetts in 1976. He was one of the creators of the BRIDGE program, and published about language, reading and education among African American children. See Word: The Online Journal on African American English's page dedicated to Dr. Simpkins.

Lorenzo Dow Turner (1890 - 1972)

Dr. Turner completed his Ph.D. in linguistics at the University of Chicago. Check out the Linguistic Society of America's Tribute to Lorenzo Dow Turner. Also check out Dr. Margaret Wade-Lewis's (2007) biography, Lorenzo Dow Turner, Father of Gullah Studies. Recenlty, the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans digitized some of Dr. Turner's Field Recordings with help from the Council on Library and Information Resources. More information is available here, and you can stream the audio via Soundcloud.

Fay Vaughn-Cooke ( 1947 - 2010)

Professor, University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Dr. Vaughn-Cooke received her Ph.D. from Georgetown University in 1976, with her dissertation, The Implementation of a Phonological Change: The Case of Resyllabification in Black English. She went on to work on speech language pathology and language acquisition in the speech of African American children in Washington DC.

Google Scholar

Margaret Wade-Lewis (1945 - 2009)

Dr. Wade-Lewis was a historian of African American linguists, and served as the Department Chair and Associate Professor of Linguistics and Literature in the Department of Black Studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz. She was the first African American woman to receive her Ph.D. in linguistics from NYU (1988).

Google Scholar

Mark Hanna Watkins (1903 - 1976)

Dr. Watkins was a University of Chicago trained linguist whose dissertation was a descriptive grammar of Chichewa (a Bantu language). In 2018, Dr. Arthur K. Spears  wrote about Dr. Watkins for the Linguistics Society of America for Black History Month. You can find that article here. While Dr. Watkins did not work on the speech of African Americans, we want to celebrate his contributions to linguists as the first African American to receive his PhD in linguistics in the United States.

Robert Lee Williams II (1930 - 2020)

Dr. Williams was Professor Emeritus of Psychology and African and Afro-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis. A prolific psychologist, Dr. Williams is perhaps best known in linguistic circles for coining the term Ebonics to refer to the speech of African Americans in 1973. In 2018, Patricia Griffin interviewed Dr. Williams for the Arkansas Association of Black Psychologists Oral History Project, the audio is available on the Central Arkansas Library System.

Juanita Williamson (1917 - 1993)

Dr. Williamson was a Professor of English and Chair of the Humanities at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tennesssee. She was well known in the fields of linguistics, education, and reading, but readers here might be most familiar with her dissertation and subsequent 1968 monograph for the Publication of the American Dialect Society, A Phonological and Morphological Study of the Speech of the Negro of Memphis, Tennessee. For more information about Dr. Williamson, see her Women of Achievement write up.

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Charlie Farrington, August 2020