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Faculty of Humanities and Education

Department of Language, Linguistics and Literature


Dr. Nickesha Dawkins - Coordinator

Dr. Nickesha Dawkins - Coordinator

Lecturer, Linguistics

Department: LLL


Dr. Dawkins is a native of Jamaica, whose area of expertise includes Articulatory & Acoustic Phonetics and Phonology, Socio-phonetics, and Language, music and Gender. She lectured and tutored courses in Linguistics in the Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy (DLLP) part time at the UWI, Mona campus from 2007- 2015.

She is currently the Coordinator and lecturer in the Discipline of Linguistics here at the UWI, Cave Hill campus in the Department of Language, Linguistics and Literature.


Dr. Dawkins completed her Bachelors, MPhil (Upgraded to PhD) and PhD degrees at The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. While at the Master's level, she studied for a semester in the summer of 2009 at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) at the Linguistics Society of America (LSA) Summer Institute. She was exposed to a speech analysis software called praat; this was very instrumental in the analysis of the data used in her PhD Thesis, which is titled: Gender as a Sociophonetic Issue in Jamaican Dancehall Lyrics.

Research Areas

Thesis Profile:

Her research considers how gender, identity and style may account for the phonological feature selections demonstrated by Jamaican dancehall artists.  The initial focus of the study is on vowel use by male and female artists in the music genre of Jamaican dancehall. The literature examined suggests that, when an option is available, men show a preference for back and low vowels, while women show a preference for high front vowels. Back and Low vowels are used by both male and female artists when targeting men, and high front and high mid front vowels are used by both male and female artists when targeting women. It was also observed that women target mainly male audiences, and this appears to be linked to the dominance of men in the music industry in Jamaica. Support in the literature for this account includes biological and social explanations for observed differences in male and female linguistic behaviour; these include focus on the size of the vocal tract, F0, F1 & F2 measurements as well as sociolinguistic issues such as acts of identity, style, social networks and a community of practice.

Select Publications

Forrester, Clive and Nickesha Dawkins, editors. Sounds of Advocacy, Language and
Liberation: Papers in Honour of Hubert Devonish, UWI Press, Kingston. 2024.

Dawkins, Nickesha and Renee Blake. “Waa Gwaan: Jamaican language and technological orate in the creation of authentic African diasporic identities in the hip hop generation.” Sounds of Advocacy, Language and Liberation: Papers in Honour of Hubert Devonish, edited by  Nickesha Dawkins and Clive Forrester, UWI Press, Kingston. 2024, pp.180-201.

Dawkins, Nickesha. “Styling Through Rhyming: Gender and Vowel Variation in Jamaican Dancehall Lyrics” Contact Languages and Music, edited by Andrea Hollington, Joseph Farquharson & Byron Jones, UWI Press, Kingston. 2023, pp. 103-137.

Dawkins, Nickesha. (2013). She Se Dis, Him Se Dat: Examining Gender-based Vowel Use in Jamaican DancehallIn D. Hope    (Ed.), International Reggae: Current and Future Trends in Jamaican Popular Music (pp. 124-166). Kingston, Jamaica: Pelican

Dawkins, Nickesha. (2009). “Gender – based Vowel Use in Jamaican Dancehall Lyrics”. Sargasso, I, 95-114

Additional Info

Dr. Dawkins is a former writer and performer of Jamaican Dancehall music. She has performed on the stages of Reggae Sumfest and Sting among many others over the past 14 years, and released one album in 2011 called “Diamond In Da Ruff”.

Department of Language, Linguistics and Literature
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