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Research Interests for Ronald R. Butters

Research Interests: Linguistics

Ron Butters, who directed the Duke Linguistics Program for many years, publishes chiefly on (1) current American English and (2) linguistics and legal issues, with special interest in trademarks, contracts and statutes, and defamation. He also pursues his interest in language-and-law questions as a legal consultant and expert witness. He is past editor of The International Journal of Speech, Language, and the Law and past president of the International Association of Forensic Linguists. His publications include The Death of Black English: Divergence and Convergence in Black and White Vernaculars (Lang, 1989); What Is About to Take Place Is a Murder’: Construing the Racist Subtext in a Small-Town Virginia Courtroom,” Language in Action: New Studies of Language and Society. Ed. by Peg Griffin et al. (Hampton Press, 2000), 373–99; “Linguistic Change in Words One Owns: How Trademarks Become ‘Generic’,” Studies in the History of the English Language II, ed. A. Curzan and K. Emmons (Mouton de Gruyter, 2004), 111–23; “Sociolinguistic Variation and the Law,” ch. 12 in Sociolinguistic Variation: Theories, Methods and Applications, ed. by R. Bayley and C. Lucas (Cambridge UP, 2007, 318–37); “Changing Linguistic Issues in U.S. Trademark Litigation,” Proceedings of the Second European IAFFL Conference on Forensic Linguistics-Language and the Law, ed. by M. Turelll et al. (Publicacions de l'IULA, No. 19, 2007), 29–42; “Trademarks,” ch. 16 in Dimensions of Forensic Linguistics, ed. J. Gibbons and M. Turell (Benjamins, 2008); “A Linguistic Look at Trademark Dilution,” Santa Clara Computer & High Technology Law Journal (vol. 24, 2008); “Issues in Forensic Linguistic Data Collection,” Data Collection in Sociolinguistics: Methods and Applications, 2nd Edition. Ed. by Christine Mallinsonet al. (Routledge, 2018, 186–188.

forensic linguistics, expert witnesses, trademarks and linguistics, linguistics of contracts, linguistics of statutes, linguistics of confessions, linguistics of interrogations, linguistic evidence
Current projects:
linguistics and trademark law
Instant Messages as linguistic evidence
Areas of Interest:

Language and Law
Discourse Analysis and Pragmatics
The Structure of Modern English & Present-Day Usage
The History of the English Language
American Language&Culture
Sociolinguistics (including American dialects, languages in contact, and Caribbean linguistics)
Linguistics & Rhetoric

Representative Publications   (search)
  1. How Not to Strike it Rich: Semantics, Pragmatics, and Semiotics of A Massachusetts Lottery Ticket, Applied Linguistics (2004) [abs] [author's comments]
  2. Butters, RR, Chance as Cause of Language Variation and Change, Journal of English Linguistics (2001) [author's comments]
  3. Butters, RR, ’We didn’t realize that lite beer was supposed to suck!’: The Putative Vulgarity of X sucks in American English, Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America (2001) [abs] [author's comments]
  4. “What Is About to Take Place Is a Murder": Construing the Racist Subtext in a Small-Town Virginia Courtroom, in Language in Action: New Studies of Language and Society, edited by Peg Griffin, Joy Peyton, Walt Wolfram, and Ralph Fasold (2000), Hampton

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