Mervyn Alleyne (deceased)

alleynemAcademic Degree:
PhD, University of Strasbourg, France (1959)

Areas of Expertise: Creole languages, Dialectology, Sociolinguistics

Contact Information

Messages: (787) 764-0000 ext. 2553 (at the English Department office)

Brief biography

Mervyn Coleridge Alleyne was born in Trinidad on June 13, 1933. He went to high school at the Queen’s Royal College in Port-of-Spain, did his undergraduate work at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, and obtained a Doctorat (PhD) in Gallo-Romance Dialectology from the University of Strasbourg, France. He returned to the University of the West Indies as a Lecturer in 1959 and served as Professor of Sociolinguistics there from 1982 until 1998, when he was awarded the distinction of Professor Emeritus.

He was Visiting Professor at Yale University, State University of N.Y at Buffalo, Indiana University, Université des Antilles et de la Guyane, Stanford University, University of Amsterdam, and University of Kansas. He was an Honorary Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America as well as of the Society for Caribbean Linguistics (of which he was President from 1990 to 1992). He was also Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean Universities and Research Institutes (UNICA). Prof. Alleyne was additionally a chief organizer of the annual Islands in Between conferences.

Prof. Alleyne was considered a pioneer in the field of Creole Language Studies and was known for his rejection of the notion that creole languages necessarily develop from prior pidgins and his position that the variation manifested among these languages should be attributed to the differing degrees of acculturation among Africans who came in contact with Europeans. He wrote extensively on many topics, including the history, structure and use of French-lexifier and English-lexifier languages in the Caribbean, acculturation, African influences in the Caribbean and North America, race and ethnicity, theoretical issues in creolistics, and folk medicine of the Caribbean. Among his recent works are The Folk Medicine of Jamaica (2004), The Construction and Representation of Race and Ethnicity in the Caribbean and the World (2002), Syntaxe Historique Créole (2000), and Roots of Jamaican Culture (1997).


Video interview with Mervyn Alleyne (carried out by Don Walicek):