Dr. Sonja Lanehart

The life of a linguist and how to become one. The spectacular story of an author, linguist, social justice advocate, mentor and parent. Our Living Legend is Professor of Linguistics in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona.

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sonja lanehart

Count Time Podcast Living Legend Sonja Lanehart

ld and sonja lanehart


Selected quotes and notes from Count Time Podcast with LD Azobra Interview with Dr. Sonja Lanehart

Sonja Lanehart is Professor of Linguistics in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona with a partial appointment in Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies in the College of Education as well as a Faculty Fellow in the Graduate College as of August 2019. Her scholarship focuses on language, literacy, and education in African American communities; language and identity; sociolinguistics and language variation; and Black education from Black feminist and Critical Race Theory perspectives.
Sista speaks
How the valorization of “proper” English has affected the language, literacy, educational achievements, and self-image of five African American women—the author’s grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, and herself. Through interviews and written statements by each woman, Lanehart draws out the life stories of these women and their attitudes toward and use of language.
She is particularly interested in African American Women’s Languages and pushing the boundaries of research in sociolinguistics and language variation to be more diverse, inclusive, and intersectional (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, gender identity, region, SES, and religion) as seen with the significant research advancement presented in The Oxford Handbook of African American Language (Oxford University Press, 2015). She also is an advocate for mentoring and the retention of emerging scholars of color and a social justice advocate for equity and inclusion.​
women language
This book is a groundbreaking collection of research on African American Women’s Language, bringing together a range of research including variationist, autoethnography, phenomenological, ethnographic, and critical, coming from a variety of disciplines, scientific paradigms, and inquiry methods while addressing a variety of African American female populations and activity settings.
She is a past co-editor (with Paul Schutz) of Educational Researcher: Research News and Comment section, the lead journal of the American Educational Research Association, which is delivered to more than 23,000 members.
This volume critically examines African American English (AAE) socially, culturally, historically, and educationally. It explores the relationship between AAE and other varieties of English, language use in the African American community, and application of our knowledge about AAE to issues in education. It seeks to challenge researchers with the complexity of defining a language and its speakers.
She is also a past book review editor of American Speech. She is the author of Sista, Speak! Black Women Kinfolk Talk about Language and Literacy (U Texas Press, 2002), which received Honorable Mention in the 2003 Myers Outstanding Book Award competition sponsored by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America, editor of Sociocultural and Historical Contexts of African American English (John Benjamins, 2001), and African American Women’s Language: Discourse, Education, and Identity (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009). She most recently published The Oxford Handbook of African American Language (Oxford University Press, 2015).
​The Handbook offers a survey of language and its uses in African American communities from a wide range of contexts organized into seven sections. It is a handbook of research on African American Language (AAL) and, as such, provides a variety of scholarly perspectives that may not align with each other—as is indicative of most scholarly research.