ARC Seminar: Judy Bernstein

Thursday, December 1, 2022

4:00 pm — 5:30 pm

Hybrid (see description for details)

Open to the Public

Stigmatized English (Has) Rules!

Admission Price



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This seminar aims to study and compare features of stigmatized and so-called standard varieties of American English. In many cases, the two systems reside in the mind of an individual speaker, an understudied form of multilingualism. I will explore this notion of multilingualism and delve into the source and ramifications of stigma. We will examine several wide-spread syntactic features of stigmatized English (e.g., negative concord, ain't, invariant was, habitual be, demonstratives) with an eye toward understanding the patterns and, in some cases, the historical origins. Participants will be provided with language data from a stigmatized variety of English and will have an opportunity to develop generalizations and formulate rules. Seminar participants will be asked to explore their own attitudes about multilingualism and compare multilingualism involving two totally separate languages (e.g., English and Spanish) and multilingualism involving two different varieties of English, one standard and the other stigmatized. Other issues to be explored include the place of stigmatized varieties in educational settings. 

Dr. Judy B. Bernstein completed the Ph.D. in Linguistics at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is currently Professor of Linguistics at the William Paterson University of New Jersey, where she developed and coordinates the interdisciplinary minor in Linguistics. Dr. Bernstein's research focuses on cross-linguistic comparisons of syntactic and morpho-syntactic phenomena, especially comparisons between mainstream and minority or stigmatized varieties. Other areas of interest include language acquisition and language change. Before completing the Ph.D. in Linguistics, Dr. Bernstein was employed as a high school teacher of Spanish and then English as a Second Language. (She holds a B.A. in Spanish and an M.A. in TESOL.)

In recent collaborative work, Dr. Bernstein has been examining the morpho-syntax of definite articles in mainstream Romance languages like French, Italian, and Spanish, as well as minority Romance varieties like Walloon, Sardinian, Catalan, and Picard. Interestingly, some of the minority varieties display two different forms for the definite article, patterns that inform our understanding of the nature of language variation. Dr. Bernstein has also studied syntactic variation between General American English and stigmatized varieties of American English, such as Appalachian English and African American English. She has published articles in numerous peer-reviewed journals and has been awarded grants from the National Science Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, and Fulbright.

This is a hybrid event. Participants may choose to attend in person at the Graduate Center, room 5318, or online via Zoom. Please register here to receive Zoom connection details.​