Baugh elected president of the Linguistic Society of America

In January 2021, renowned interdisciplinary scholar John Baugh will begin a three-year term on the Linguistic Society of America’s Executive Committee.

John Baugh, the Margaret Bush Wilson Professor in Arts & Sciences, was elected president of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), the organization’s board recently announced. He will serve a three-year term on the LSA’s Executive Committee, the first year as president-elect, the second as president, and the third as past president. A member of the LSA since 1976, Baugh is also a past fellow with the LSA and a past president of the American Dialect Society.


A renowned interdisciplinary scholar, Baugh holds appointments in psychological and brain sciences, linguistics, anthropology, education, English, and African and African-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis. His primary research focuses on the social stratification of linguistic behavior in multicultural and multilingual nations, and he is best known for advancing studies of linguistic profiling and linguistic discrimination. 

Baugh will bring his interdisciplinary expertise to his presidency of the LSA, through which he hopes to bridge linguistics with its related fields. “As a sociolinguist it has been my pleasure, if not my responsibility, to familiarize myself and inform my scholarship with advances that might otherwise be attributed to different linguistic specializations,” Baugh said. “I therefore hope that my presidency will represent the conceptual embodiment of alternative ways in which the various branches of linguistic science can be integrated and utilized in harmony with strategic evidence from other disciplines.”

During his presidency, Baugh also hopes to find ways to help Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and two-year community colleges formulate strategies to create and support departments of linguistics. According to Baugh, there are currently no HBCUs that house departments of linguistics, and it is very rare to find course offerings in linguistics at community colleges. “Linguistics is ubiquitous, and yet very few people know or understand the principles guiding human linguistic behavior,” Baugh said.

The LSA was founded in 1924 with the goal of advancing the scientific study of language. It plays a critical role in supporting and disseminating linguistic scholarship to professional linguists and the general public alike. Baugh will be Washington University’s first member of the LSA’s Executive Committee. He will take office in January 2021.