Ronald R. Butters

Ronald R. Butters

Professor Emeritus of English

External Address: 
314 Allen Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90014, Durham, NC 27708-0014
(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, M. Dynamics of a Sociolinguistic System: English Plural Formation in Augusta, Georgia. Ed. RR Butters, J W Kretzschmar, and C Rice. Sage Publications, 1999.

Butters, RR. 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 Page, K. "Preface." January 1, 2015.

Butters, RR. "Data Collection in Sociolinguistics: Methods and Applications." AMERICAN SPEECH 90.1 (February 2015): 106-117. Full Text

Butters, RR. "The Language of Bribery Cases." INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SPEECH LANGUAGE AND THE LAW 22.1 (2015): 127-132. Full Text

Butters, RR. "Language, Meaning and the Law." JOURNAL OF SOCIOLINGUISTICS 15.4 (September 2011): 532-537. Full Text

Butters, RR. "Forensic Linguistics." Journal of English Linguistics 39.2 (June 2011): 196-202. Full Text

Butters, RR. "The Forensic Linguist’s Professional Credentials." International Journal of Speech Language and the Law 16.2 (April 3, 2010). Full Text

Butters, RR. "Linguistics in the courtroom: A practical guide." LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY 37.2 (April 2008): 300-304. Full Text

Butters, RR. "Language in the USA: Themes for the twenty-first century." LANGUAGE 83.4 (December 2007): 883-886.

Butters, RR. "Focusing and Diffusion." Ed. U Ammon, N Dittmar, K Mattheier, and P Trudgill. (2004).

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).