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Faculty of Humanities and Education

Department of Language, Linguistics and Literature

Allsopp Centre: News

Eighth Annual Richard Allsopp Memorial Lecture
The Richard and Jeannette Allsopp Centre for Caribbean Lexicography, under the auspices of the Department of Language, Linguistics and Literature, held its eighth annual Richard Allsopp Memorial Lecture. for the first time in the lecture’s history, it was conducted as an in-person and virtual event.

The year 2023 is indeed a significant milestone as The University of the West Indies (The UWI) is celebrating its 75th anniversary while its Cave Hill Campus is celebrating its 60th anniversary. The memorial lecture, which continues to honour the legacy of Professor Richard Allsopp, also celebrated Professor Allsopp’s 100th birth anniversary.

Professor Emeritus of Linguistics Hubert Devonish of The UWI, Mona Campus (below) delivered his address, “How Did African Words Arrive in the Caribbean? The Story Statistics Tell”. His talk was based on research conducted with Dr Joseph Farquharson of the Mona campus and Prof. Emeritus Ewart Thomas of Stanford University, and it concerned a select number of words of African origin in the English-vocabulary Creoles of the Caribbean.  He also highlighted Allsopp’s references to the African language influence in the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage.

Through the use of statistics, he emphasized how the main language influencer Akan, a language of West Africa, and its contributions to Caribbean English Creoles were reinforced by the presence of those same words within its language family. In contrast, when words in Caribbean English Creoles were identifiably from Koongo, a language of southern Africa, they tended to be different words than their equivalents in their language family. In addition, he showed the contribution of the Koongo language to the language and syntax of Jamaican Creole.

This event was attended by members of the university community, Allsopp family members and specially invited guests. The memorial lecture was also the first one to be simulcast and guests from the Caribbean, North America, Asia and Europe were able to join the online component. In total, approximately 100 people attended the hybrid event.

Professor Devonish during his talk

Department of Language, Linguistics and Literature
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