My work began in African American communities in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. From there I moved to Austin, Texas for ten years where I served as Assistant and Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin. It was at the University of Texas that I was first introduced to outstanding graduate students who introduced me to a global array of cultural diversity, beginning with Chicano English in Texas, as well as matters of linguistic identity throughout the world.

In 1987 it was my honor to spend a year at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, which was my first introduction to Stanford University, where I spent most of my career as Professor of Education and Linguistics. I am now Professor Emeritus at Stanford University; however, my current position at Washington University in St. Louis is on-going.

Since 2005 it has been my unique distinction to serve as the Margaret Bush Wilson Professor in Arts and Sciences. I have also served as Director of African and African American Studies since then, in support of a mission to promote academic excellence regarding all fields of intellectual inquiry that pertain to the human and ecological condition of people of African descent throughout the Diaspora.

Areas of Specialization

  • African & African American
  • Diversity in occupational settings
  • Legal relevance of linguistics
  • Educational linguistics
  • Linguistic profiling
  • Ethnolinguistic analyses
  • Linguistic foundations for jury selection
  • Linguistic investigation systems
  • Books
  • Communication management
  • Language policy studies
  • Linguistic attitudes and stereotypes
  • Board memberships


  • University of West Indies: Jamaican Language Project
  • Core Advisor for ‘Do you Speak American?’ on PBS
  • National Fair Housing Alliance: news reports of linguistic profiling
  • Start it up, Network for Teaching Entrepreneuership: legal applications

Noteworthy Items

Mentors: William Labov, Dell Hymes, Erving Goffman, John Fought

Travel Destinations: South Africa, Brazil, France, and throughout the United States

Documentary Films: 

  • The Story of English (PBS)
  • Do you speak American? (PBS)

Board Memberships: Nonprofit organizations that lend a helping hand

  • Eastside College Preparatory School
  • Project Pericles: Education and Citizenship
  • Coalition of Essential Schools
  • Oracle Education Foundation: Think Quest
  • Raising a Reader
  • The Black Rep