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Janina Brutt-Griffler, Ph.D.

Polish Studies Program, Director
Graduate School of Education, Associate Dean for Curriculum and Global Initiatives
Department of Learning and Instruction, Professor

Specialty/Research Focus

Understanding of language use in society, specifically the exploration of multilingualism; Contemporary dialogue on heritage languages; Language maintenance.

Janina Brutt-Griffler, born in Lublin, Poland, studied Slavic Languages and Literatures and English at the Ohio State University. She continued her study of language and culture at the doctoral level, receiving her Ph.D. from the same university. Dr Brutt-Griffler’s research program continues to focus on the understanding of language use in society, specifically the exploration of multilingualism, contemporary dialogue on heritage languages, and language maintenance. Her influential first book, World English: A Study of its Development, revised our understanding of how English came to its globally dominant position today, and drew out the implications of its rapid spread for languages and cultures like Polish. The book was honored by the Modern Language Association of America in 2004 with its Kenneth W. Mildenberger Award for the outstanding book in the field of language, culture and literature. Her most recent volume English and Ethnicity (2006) offers a scholarly exploration of the complex interaction between the English language and the (de) construction of ethnicity/identity in other languages. Centered in (socio) linguistics, the volume demonstrates that the constructs of both English and ethnicity are contested sites of identity formation in the English-speaking world. It illustrates that while for some English use indexes ethnicity, for others its usage involves equally significant processes of de-ethnicization. The volume draws implications for sociolinguistic theory and constructing diaspora identity in multicultural communities.

Dr Brutt-Griffler has been on the faculty of a number of research universities in the US and United Kingdom. She came to SUNY Buffalo from the University of York, England, as founding director of the graduate program in applied linguistics. As Director of Polish Studies, she has focused program’s mission toward a broad approach to the discipline that situates Polishness in its historical contexts of cosmopolitanism, transnationalism and diaspora, as reflected in the rich history of the Polish community in Buffalo.

Dr Brutt-Griffler serves on the Modern Language Association’s executive committee for General Linguistics and English Today.