- PhD Linguistics, Stanford University
BA English and American Literature, Brandeis University
Naomi Baron’s research interests include language and technology, reading, first language acquisition, the relationship between speech and writing, the history and structure of English, and higher education.
A former Guggenheim Fellow, Fulbright Fellow, Fulbright Specialist, and Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, she has published nine books. Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World won the English-Speaking Union’s Duke of Edinburgh English Language Book Award for 2008. Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World appeared in 2015. How We Read Now: Strategic Choices for Print, Screen, and Audio was published in March 2021.
Baron's current research is on artificial intelligence and writing. Her new book, Who Wrote This? How AI and the Lure of Efficiency Threaten Human Writing, is under contract with Stanford University Press.
Baron taught at Brown University, Emory University, and Southwestern University before coming to American University, where she served in the College of Arts and Sciences as associate dean for undergraduate affairs, associate dean for curriculum and faculty development, chair of the Department of Language and Foreign Studies, and director of the TESOL Program. For six years, she was executive director of the university’s Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning. She has taught or been a visiting scholar at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden), the University of Stavanger (Norway), the University of Zurich (Switzerland), and the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Italy).
Professor Baron has appeared extensively in the media, including interviews on Good Morning America, ABC News 20/20, CNN, The Diane Rehm Show, All Things Considered, the BBC, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New Yorker, Fortune, and Time.
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Writing Systems Research
Mobile Media & Communication
- How We Read Now: Strategic Choices for Print, Screen, and Audio. New York: Oxford University Press, 2021.
- Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
- Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
- Alphabet to Email: How Written Language Evolved and Where It’s Heading. London: Routledge, 2000.
- Growing Up with Language: How Children Learn to Talk. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1992.
- Pigeon-Birds and Rhyming Words: The Role of Parents in Language Learning. Center for Applied Linguistics/Prentice Hall Regents, 1990.
- Computer Languages: A Guide for the Perplexed. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1986.
- Speech, Writing, and Sign. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1981.
- Language Acquisition and Historical Change. Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1977.
Edited Journal Issues
- Mobile Phones in Cross-Cultural Context: Sweden, Estonia, the USA, and Japan (editor), themed section of New Media & Society 12 (1), 2010.
- Theory and Methodology in Semiotics (editor, with Nikhil Bhattacharya), special issue of Semiotica 26 3/4, 1979.
- Children Learning Language: How Adults Can Help (with Louise Schrank), co-scripted and appeared in 24 minute video (The Learning Seed).
- Oral Traditions: The Printed Word and Democracy, scripted and appeared in 10 minute segment on the history of writing for one-hour documentary (Library of Congress Global Literacy Project).
Honors, Awards, and Fellowships
- Visiting Fellow, Digital Society Initiative, University of Zurich (2019)
- Visiting Scholar, National Reading Centre, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway (2018)
- Fulbright Specialist, Catholic University of Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium (2017)
- Betty T. Bennett Faculty Scholar-Administrator Award, CAS, American University (2013)
- Visiting Scholar, Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (2012-2013)
- English-Speaking Union's Duke of Edinburgh English Language Book Award (Winter 2008) for Always On
- Fulbright Fellow, Sweden (Fall 2007)
- American University Presidential Research Fellow (AY 2007-2008)
- "Professor of the Year," AU University Honors Program (2006)
- English-Speaking Union's Duke of Edinburgh English Language Book Award competition (2000), Alphabet to Email "Highly Commended"
- President, Zeta of Washington Chapter (American University), Phi Beta Kappa (1998-2000)
- President, Semiotic Society of America (1987)
- Guggenheim Fellow (1984-1985)
Area of Expertise
Reading in print versus onscreen; mobile phones, email, instant messaging, and text messaging; social networking; relationship between spoken and written language; history of English; general linguistics; higher education
Naomi S. Baron is professor emerita of linguistics in the Department of World Languages and Cultures in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is the author of nine books, including How We Read Now: Strategic Choices for Print, Screen, and Audio; Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World; Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World; and Alphabet to Email: How Written English Evolved and Where It’s Heading. David Crystal wrote of How We Read Now that “Naomi Baron has done a huge service to everyone involved in the study, teaching, and practice of reading – which means all of us.” Nicholas Carr called Words Onscreen “essential for educators, parents, and everyone who loves to read. The late William Safire described Always On as his choice for “most influential and seminal language book of the year.” The book was winner of the 2008 English-Speaking Union’s Duke of Edinburgh English Language Award competition. Baron’s research focuses on the effects of technology on language, social interaction, and learning. She has conducted cross-national studies of mobile phone use and of print versus digital reading practices. A Guggenheim Fellow and Swedish Fulbright Fellow, she was also a Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Among her news media appearances, Baron has been on ABC’s Good Morning America and 20/20, CNN, PBS’s News Hour, National Public Radio, BBC Radio, CBC Radio, and Voice of America. She has been interviewed by such newspapers as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe.