Stanford Open Office Hours: John Rickford

Stanford Open Office Hours: John Rickford

How does the way we talk shape our social worlds? How do our social worlds shape the way we talk? In this session of Stanford Open Office Hours, Professor John Rickford responds to audience questions on the linguistics of race and ethnicity in America.

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13 thoughts on “Stanford Open Office Hours: John Rickford”

  1. The idea of the distribution of people attributing to the change of the spoken word is interesting. Forgive me for commenting that it brings me to ask on the root of language? As, is/was there one place which language began and spread out from or did it evolve individually to make languages as diverse as Mandrin and Swahili? Can the root can be quantified by down to a singular? How or why not?
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  2. What about the famous study that shows heavy dialects are often adopted by groups who less than often tell the truth and use the heavy handed dialect to bully the listener? Also, since this witness in the trial lied under oath – she isn't credible regardless. I believe this professor has bias in his review of his topic – he is therefore not credible – even though his dialect is mild.

  3. What famous study is this, Lance? Please give me the link or reference, since I'd love to learn about it. Also, although Jeantel DID lie about her reason for not going to Trayvon's funeral (she wasn't really sick, just hates funerals and dreaded the experience), her "lie" did not concern the crucial encounter between Zimmerman and Trayvon. Compare her Apr 2012 interview with de la Rionda (on my website) with her Jun 2013 courtroom testimony, and you'll see they're essentially the same.

  4. A brief response to Rebecca Johns, whose terrific question I didn't get to in the video.
    I DO believe in making the resources of standard English available to AAVE and other vernacular speaking students–esp. via Contrastive Analysis and similar strategies discussed in our 2013 book African American, Creole, and other Vernacular Englishes in Education, because developing linguistic versatility (in languages, dialects, styles, reading and writing, poetry and prose, etc.) is key, in school & life.

  5. I look forward to reading the book. Versatility does seem key. A colleague of mine works at an academic success center, working with African American students on their writing. He stresses learning to discern what kind of language is appropriate for different situations. I wish more of my students realized that "texting" language is not appropriate for email correspondence with professors! Hasn't technology introduced an entirely new vernacular? Does digital language differ by ethnicity/class?

  6. Thank you and Stanford. Is higher education ever conducted it less standard vernaculars and creoles; it seems to me it would be possible, after all the King James Bible uses less than eight thousand words, I understand. Also, when native creole speakers attain higher education, presumably in standard English, do they tend to shift toward it or tend to become become "bilingual"?

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