Education 114N

Sophomore Seminar: Winter 2004

Fridays, 9:00AM - 12:00

Cubberley Hall: Room 208

John Baugh


This course grows directly from current research sponsored by the Ford Foundation to study Linguistic Profiling. Studies of linguistic profiling began as the auditory equivalent of racial profiling. For example, is it possible for someone who conducts business over the phone to engage in racially motivated discrimination; that is, sight unseen? Or is it possible for someone to engage in gender discrimination, or discrimination based on stereotypes about sexual orientation based solely on the sound of someone's voice?

We will explore this topic in depth within the United States and other countries, with particular attention to educational and social relevance. We begin by considering studies of housing discrimination based on speech, and proceed from there to consider other forms of linguistic profiling in schools, on the job, and in other circumstances where speech (or writing) may stand as a barrier to social advancement.

Our examination of this topic will be interdisciplinary consisting of five research components:

1) Economic Evaluations

2) Educational Relevance

3) Internet Data Collection

4) Legal Implications

5) Linguistic Analyses

Although we will evaluate these components separately, we shall come to recognize their interrelated nature throughout the course. Our studies of housing discrimination illustrate the point, because home ownership (or the lack of home ownership) has direct economic consequences. Similarly, within the United States and many advanced industrialized societies, residential circumstances are directly correlated to educational prospects for children. In addition, the linguistic composition of communities may reflect more-or-less desireable locations that may impact citizens from different backgrounds in various ways. The courts have also been involved in efforts to eliminate discrimination based on speech.

When viewed from the standpoint of those who deny goods and/or services in response to telephone inquiries, compelling evidence suggestions that some prospective customers or clients are perceived to "sound undesirable" whereas others are considered to be more "desirable." What forms the bases of these attitudes, and what are the consequences for speakers from linguistically diverse backgrounds? We will ponder these and other questions that are relevant to many contemporary social problems that have yet to be resolved.


a)Research or Project Abstract: Formulation of a term paper topic or extensive web page pertaining to the linguistic heritage of a particular U.S. State or some other region elsewhere in the world: = 10%

On January 30 students will submit a 2 page description of their proposed research topic or prospective web page design. This abstract should describe the plan for organizing your paper or project, including identification of the specific issue(s) that will be covered. The abstract should also provide brief accounts of the anticipated sources of evidence, as well as a sense of the relevance of these materials to the specified issue(s). Professor Baugh will provide evaluations and feedback on this assignment to offer specific guidance for your culminating term paper or class project. This assignment will be graded on a credit/no credit basis. In an effort to keep all members of the class fully informed, please distribute copies of this assignment to John Baugh and other members of the class by email.

b) Annotated review of relevant research supporting your term paper or project: = 15%

The annotated review should be 2-to-4 pages (due February 13), and consist of a detailed overview of one or more major works that are related to your term paper or class project. Moreover, this review should be devoted to work(s) that exceed other assigned readings. Students should take primary responsibility for selecting these additional works, and -- ideally -- they should be derived from original research. The typical review will be devoted to studies pertaining to language; however, your choice need not be focused directly on language as long as you provide a brief rationale that confirms the relevance of your review to matters pertaining to linguistic and/or racial strife. We will discuss this assignment more fully during class; however, the primary objective attempts to encourage students to explore their topics in-depth, and to share these observations with others who are enrolled in the course.

c) Class Presentation: = 25%

Students will make an in-class presentation individually or as a member of an organized group. These presentations should correspond to your term paper topic or course project. The choice of individual or group presentations is your choice. Whenever group presentations are selected, every effort should be made to develop coherent themes that are complementary. For example, a group of students may consider controversies related to bilingualism; one person might explore educational considerations, another might evaluate legal aspects, while yet another might ponder the special plight of bilingualism as it relates to health care. Students are strongly encouraged to think creatively about these presentations, which will typically include a 20-to-25 minute presentation followed by 10-to-5 minutes of questions and related discussion. Every effort should be made to rehearse presentations in advance to ensure that they do not exceed 30 minutes. Logistics for group formation will be considered on January 16.

d) Term paper or Web page(s) project: = 50%

This major assignment represents the capstone for this course. Term papers should be 15-to-20 pages in length excluding notes and references (double spaced with 12pt. type). Web projects should be substantial, informative, and include combinations of links, useful references, and original material and/or observations that represent a culminating intellectual effort that is comparable (roughly) to the effort that would have otherwise been invested in a substantial term paper.


Baugh, John. 2000. Beyond Ebonics: Linguistic Pride and Racial Prejudice. New York: Oxford University Press.

Fought, Caramen.2003. Chicano English in Context. New York: Palgrave Press.

Lippi-Green, Rosina. 1997. English with an Accent. London: Routledge.

Zentella, Ana Celia. 1997. Growing up Bilingual. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers

Additional readings are identified in the course schedule.

Course Schedule, Readings, and Assignments


"Students with documented disabilities: Students who have a disability which may necessitate an academic accommodation or the use of auxiliary aids and services in a class must initiate the request with the Disability Resource Center (DRC). The DRC will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend appropriate accommodations, and prepare a verification letter dated in the current academic term in which the requests being made. Please contact the DRC as soon as possible; timely notice is needed to arrange for appropriate accommodations. The DRC is located at 123 Meyer Library (phone 723-1066; TDD 725-1067)."

No incomplete grades will be given. Final course grades will be assigned based on work that is completed by the last day of the quarter.