Ronald R. Butters

Ronald R. Butters

Professor Emeritus of English

External Address: 
314 Allen Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90015, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 684-6561

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 co-editor of The International Journal of Speech, Language, and the Law and current 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); “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).


  • Ph.D., University of Iowa 1967
  • B.A., University of Iowa 1962

Miller, Michael. Dynamics of a Sociolinguistic System: English Plural Formation in Augusta, Georgia. Edited by R. R. Butters et al., Sage Publications, 1999.

Butters, R. R. The Death of Black English: Divergence and Convergence in White and Black Vernaculars. Peter Lang, Bamberger Beitrage zur Englischen Sprachwissenschaft, 25, 1989.

Fields, B., and K. Page. Preface. Vol. 2015-June, 2015.

Butters, R. R. “TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING WOULD BE WONDERFUL.” American Speech, vol. 90, no. 1, Duke University Press, Jan. 2015, pp. 106–17. Crossref, doi:10.1215/00031283-2914714. Full Text

Butters, Ronald R. “The Language of Bribery Cases.” International Journal of Speech Language and the Law, vol. 22, no. 1, EQUINOX PUBLISHING LTD, Jan. 2015, pp. 127–32. Wos, doi:10.1558/ijsll.v22i1.27073. Full Text

Butters, Ronald R. “Language, Meaning and the Law by Chris Hutton.” Journal of Sociolinguistics, vol. 15, no. 4, Wiley, Sept. 2011, pp. 532–37. Crossref, doi:10.1111/j.1467-9841.2011.00506.x. Full Text

Butters, Ronald R. “Forensic Linguistics.” Journal of English Linguistics, vol. 39, no. 2, SAGE Publications, June 2011, pp. 196–202. Crossref, doi:10.1177/0022022111403849. Full Text

Butters, Ronald R. “ROGER W. SHUY, Linguistics in the courtroom: A practical guide.” Language in Society, vol. 37, no. 02, Cambridge University Press (CUP), Apr. 2008. Crossref, doi:10.1017/s0047404508080421. Full Text

Butters, Ronald R. “Language in the USA: Themes for the twenty-first century.” Language, vol. 83, no. 4, LINGUISTIC SOC AMER, Dec. 2007, pp. 883–86.

Butters, R. R. “How not to strike it rich: Semantics, pragmatics, and semiotics of a Massachusetts lottery game card.” Applied Linguistics, vol. 25, no. 4, Dec. 2004, pp. 466–90. Scopus, doi:10.1093/applin/25.4.466. Full Text

Butters, R. R. Focusing and Diffusion. Edited by Ulrich Ammon et al., Walter de Gruyter, 2004.

Butters, R. R. “Chance as Cause of Language Variation and Change.” Journal of English Linguistics, 2001.

Butters, R. R. “’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.


Butters, R. R. Composition Guide, Duke University. 1983.

Butters, R. R. Stylesheet for Writing. 1982.