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Dr. John R. Rickford, Ringleader on the Educational CyberPlayGround.

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John and Russell Rickford
John and his son Russell J. Rickford
American Book Award Winners 2000


Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Professor
Department of Linguistics
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-2150
[v] (650)-725-1565 Fax: (650)-723-5666

Director Department of Linguistics
African and Afro-American Studies
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-2084
[v] (650)-724-2088 Fax (650)-723-8528

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Read Papers I make Available Online


John R. Rickford is Professor of Linguistics at Stanford University, where he has been a faculty member since 1980. From September 1998 he will also be Director of the Program in African and Afro-American Studies and Martin Luther King Jr. Centennial Professor at Stanford. He received his BA with highest honors in Sociolinguistics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1971, and his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1979. He won a Dean's Award for distinguished teaching in 1984 and a Bing Fellowship for excellence in teaching in 1992. His interests include sociolinguistics, especially the relation between language and ethnicity, social class and style, language variation and change, pidgin and creole languages, African American Vernacular English, and the applications of linguistics to educational problems. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles, including "Suite for Ebony and Phonics" in the December 1997 issue of Discover magazine. His books include Dimensions of a Creole Continuum (1987), Sociolinguistics and Pidgin-Creole Studies (ed., 1988), A Festival of Guyanese Words (ed., 1978), Analyzing Variation in Language (co-ed., 1987), and African American English (co-ed., 1998). He is currently co-authoring a book on African American Vernacular English, and co-editing two others on Stylistic Variation in Language, and Creole Genesis, Attitudes and Discourse.

Abreviated VITA:

Date of Birth: September 16, 1949
Place of Birth: Georgetown, Guyana
Citizenship: United States citizen
Marital Status: Married to Angela, with four children

Colleges and Universities Attended
University of California, Santa Cruz (1968-71)
University of Pennsylvania (1971-79)


1971 BA, Sociolinguistics, University of California, Santa Cruz Highest Honors (academic); Stevenson College Honors
1973 MA, Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania
1979 PhD, Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania

3. Scholarships and Academic Honors
1960 Guyana Government Scholarship for secondary education
1965 Queen's College prize for best results at London University General Certificate of Education (GCE) Ordinary Level exams
1967 Wishart Memorial Prize for distinction in English at London University GCE Advanced Level exams
1968 Fulbright/IIE Grant for undergraduate study in US
1970 First Prize, Stevenson College oratory competition, UCSC
1984 Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching, Stanford
1992 Bing Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching, Stanford
1998 Martin Luther King Centennial Professorship, Stanford

4. Fellowships for academic study (See El, p.3 for Research Grants)

1971 Danforth Graduate Fellowship
1973 Linguistic Society of America Institute Fellowship
1974 National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Grant
1989 Fellowship, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford
1997 Ellen Andrews Wright Fellowship, Stanford Humanities Center (for study/writing there while on sabbatical in 1997-1998)
1997 Fulbright Fellowship (for teaching and research in Jamaica in Fall 1998; declined)

5. Other Study
1970 Sociolinguistics Institute, Stanford, summer
1971 California Linguistics Institute, UCSC, summer
1973 Linguistic Society of America Linguistic Institute, U of Michigan, summer
1979 University Teaching Methods course, taught at U of Guyana by visiting U of London Teaching Methods unit staff, summer
1991 Linguistic Society of America Linguistic Institute, UC Santa Cruz, summer


1. Professional Experience

a. Guyana and West Indies
1974-80 Lecturer, Linguistics, University of Guyana
1979-80 Assistant Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Guyana
1980 Promoted to Reader, Linguistics (intermediate between Associate and Full Professor), with tenure, University of Guyana
1982- External Examiner, Linguistics courses, MA and PhD theses, University of the West Indies (Mona, Cave Hill and St. Augustine campuses), University of Guyana

b. United States
1977 Visiting Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University, Fall
1980-81 Visiting Assistant Professor, Linguistics, Stanford
1981-86 Assistant Professor, Linguistics, Stanford
1986-90 Associate Professor, with tenure, Linguistics, Stanford
1987 Instructor, LSA Linguistics Institute, Stanford, summer
1988-90 Associate Professor, by courtesy, Education, Stanford
1990- Professor, with tenure, Linguistics, Stanford
1990- Professor, by courtesy, Education, Stanford
1990 Director, Stanford Overseas Studies Summer Focus Program, Oxford
1993 Instructor, LSA Linguistics Institute, Ohio State University, summer
1996 Vice-Chair, Department of Linguistics, Stanford
1998- Director, Program in African and African American Studies, Stanford, and holder of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Chair

Papers Available Online

The Ebonics controversy in my backyard: A sociolinguist's experiences and reflections
This paper, which will be published in Journal of Sociolinguisics in 1998 or 1999, is part of a collection of essays on the theme, "What do sociolinguists have to say about the Great Language Debates of Our Times?" compiled and edited by Monica Heller. Three of the papers in this collection (including mine) were first presented at the 1997 conference on New Ways of Analysis Variation, held in Quebec, Canada.

Using the Vernacular to Teach the Standard
This is a revised version (March 25, 1998) of remarks delivered at the California State University Long Beach [CSULB] Conference on Ebonics held on March 29, 1997, and will appear in the proceedings (ed. by Gerda DeKlerk), to be published by CSULB in 1998

Suite for Ebony and Phonics
This commentary was written for the December, 1997 issue of Discover magazine. It differs slightly from the published version, reflecting editor's changes.

The Creole Origins of AAVE: Evidence from copula

This paper was published in African American English ed. by Salikoko S. Mufwene, John R. Rickford, Guy Bailey and John Baugh. London: Routledge, 1998.

Dialect Readers Revisited
Written in collaboration with my wife, Angela, and published in 1995, this paper examines the use of dialect readers written in African American Vernacular English [AAVE--the term linguists use more often for what most people are now referring to as Ebonics] to improve the reading abilities of African American children in the inner cities.