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K-State Today

February 7, 2022

English professor receives book award, will give talk

Submitted by Karin Westman

Mary Kohn

Mary Kohn, associate professor of English and director of the Chapman Center for Rural Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, has received a prestigious award for her co-authored scholarship on African American language change and innovation.

The Linguistic Society of America has awarded the 2022 Leonard Bloomfield Book Award to Kohn and co-authors Walt Wolfram, North Carolina State University; Charlie Farrington, Virginia Tech University; Jennifer Renn, Purdue University; and Janneke Van Hofwegen, Google, for their book "African American Language: Language Development from Infancy to Adulthood," published by Cambridge University Press in 2021.

The award was presented at the society's annual meeting in January.

In the award citation, the society congratulates Kohn and her co-authors for their impressive, groundbreaking achievement. The citation explains how the study "makes a remarkable and unique contribution to the study of African American language, contributing substantially to our understanding of how children construct identity, negotiate status and relationships, and transition across life stages by means of and as represented by their language."

In particular, the society praises Kohn and her co-authors for their meticulous longitudinal methodology that "provides a new model for sociolinguistic and socio-historical analysis of African American and other speech communities."

Read the full citation at the society's website.

Kohn will present highlights from the award-winning research as part of the English department's 2022 Spring Colloquium series at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 9, via Zoom.

Kohn's talk is titled "30 Years in the Making: A Longitudinal Study of African American Language." Registration is free but required at tinyurl.com/englcolloq2022.

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