Events

John Baugh is Margaret Bush Wilson Professor in Arts & Sciences and former Director of African and African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to his tenure at Washington University, Dr. Baugh taught at Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Swarthmore College. Dr. Baugh has published award-winning books in the fields of Anthropology, Education, Legal Affairs, Linguistics, Sociology and Urban Studies. His work bridges theoretical and applied linguistics, with particular attention to matters of policy and social equity in the fields of education, medicine, and the law. He has conducted extensive research regarding the social stratification of linguistic diversity within the U.S., Austria, Brazil, Hungary, South Africa, and the UK, and is actively engaged in ongoing research that examines the evolution and dissemination of English and other European languages in post-colonial contexts throughout the world. Dr. Baugh is a past president of the American Dialect Society and a member of the usage advisory committee for the American Heritage English Dictionary. He is Associate Editor of Language, concentrating on matters where language relates to public policies. He has also served as consultant on several documentary films related to American language and as an expert witness in court cases where matters of voice recognition and language attitudes have been central. Dr. Baugh received his B.A. in Speech and Rhetoric at Temple University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania.

His presentation describes some of the ways in which cases of linguistic discrimination intersects with a combination of legal considerations regarding expert evidence and testimony pertaining to litigation related to civil and criminal violations of the law. The evidence is derived from a combination of linguistic research, devoted primarily to analyses of dialect diversity and language attitudes, combined with instances of discrimination in housing, education, and employment in the United States. Whereas the courts are well equipped to address cases of racial profiling based on face-to-face encounters, matters regarding “ear-witness” testimony have proved to be quite challenging in the absence of any visual cues. The presentation offers some suggestions regarding ways in which linguists can assist attorneys who take on cases of “linguistic profiling” where allegations of discrimination are derived from telephone conversations and perceptions derived from hearing someone, sight unseen.