John R. Rickford

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John Russell Rickford (born September 16, 1949[1][2] in Georgetown, Guyana) is a Guyanese academic and author. His book Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English, which he wrote together with his son, Russell J. Rickford,[3] won the American Book Award in 2000.[4] Rickford is the J. E. Wallace Sterling Professor of Linguistics and the Humanities at Stanford University's Department of Linguistics and the Stanford Graduate School of Education, where he has taught since 1980.[5]

Life and work[edit]

John R. Rickford earned his B.A. at University of California, Santa Cruz, and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses primarily on language variation, a type of quantitative sociolinguistics. His specialty is African American Vernacular English, which garnered national attention in the U.S. when the Oakland, California school board recognized the variety as an official dialect of English and educated teachers in its use.[3][6] Rickford has researched and written extensively on the topic and was an outspoken supporter of the decision.[3] In 2008, he served as the President of the Society for Caribbean Linguistics. He was the 2015 President of the Linguistic Society of America. In 2017 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[7]

Selected publications[edit]

  • "The Creole Origins Hypothesis." in Lanehart, Sonja (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of African American Language. (2015): Oxford University Press.
  • Dimensions of a Creole Continuum, Stanford (1987): Stanford University Press.
  • African American Vernacular English: Features and Use, Evolution, and Educational Implications, Oxford (1999): Blackwell.
  • Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English (with Russell J. Rickford), New York (2000): John Wiley.


  1. ^ Rickford, John R. "CURRICULUM VITAE: JOHN R. RICKFORD (November 2011)" (PDF). Stanford University. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  2. ^ Inside Cover of Rickford, J. R. (1999) African American Vernacular English. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, Inc.
  3. ^ a b c Wagner, Venise (April 30, 2000). "Father and son authors make case for acceptance of Ebonics". The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  4. ^ American Booksellers Association (2013). "The American Book Awards / Before Columbus Foundation [1980–2012]". BookWeb. Archived from the original on March 13, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 2000 [...] Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English, John Russell Rickford and Russell John Rickford 
  5. ^ Staff. "John R. Rickford. Professor of Linguistics. Stanford University". Stanford University. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  6. ^ Wagner, Venise (April 18, 2000). "Coming correct on black English". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Newly elected members, April 2017". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 29 May 2017. 

External links[edit]