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Dr. Don Edward Walicek

Don Dr. Don Edward Walicek

Short Bio

Don Edward Walicek, Ph.D. is Professor of English and Linguistics at the University of Puerto Rico’s Río Piedras Campus. He earned a BA in Cultural Anthropology and an MA in Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He was awarded his PhD in English from the University of Puerto Rico. Much of his research relates to concerns of historical sociolinguistics and issues of language contact, linguistic creolization, and social life in Caribbean settings, in particular Anguilla, Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. He also maintains related interests in cultural studies and has published on topics such as colonization, creolization, revolution, and Guantánamo Bay. Walicek is the author of numerous essays and book chapters and the editor of several volumes and journal issues. He has acted as director of the Graduate Program in Linguistics and currently serves as editor of the Caribbean studies journal Sargasso. In 2019, he was a Fulbright Scholar at the Karl-Franzens University of Graz and a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies. In 2023, he was the Annual Emancipation Lecturer at the University of the West Indies Open Campus in Anguilla. In addition, he is a published poet and translator. His current linguistics research explores questions about language ideologies and social cognition in situations of language contact.

Selected Publications

  • “Uniformitarianism and the Social Ecology of Anguilla’s Homestead Period.” Uniformitarianism in Genetic Creolistics, ed. by Salikoko Mufwene and Enoch Aboh. Cambridge University Press. (in press).
  • “Across Water, Land, and Difference: Language and Cultural Contact in Samaná.” Oltreoceano: The Isthmus and the American Continent, 21, pp. 131-140 (2023).
  • Sargasso volume Moving Forward With Mervyn Alleyne, editor (2021).
  • With Faraclas, Nicholas, Mervyn Alleyne, Wilfredo Geigel, & Luis Ortiz. 2007. “The Complexity That Really Matters: The Role of Political Economy in Creole Genesis,” Deconstructing Creole: New Horizons in Language Creation, (Typological Studies in Language 73) ed. by U. Ansaldo, S.J. Matthews, & L. Lim. Creole Language Library Series, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 227-264.


Project Description

This project, “Language Ideologies and Social Contact Involving West Africans and the English on the Gold Coast,” will discuss dynamics of linguistic contact among Europeans and West Africans who were involved in or otherwise impacted by the Atlantic slave trade. Focusing on language ideologies, it will pay special attention to the English presence on the Gold Coast during the 16th and 17th centuries (1553-1700) given that the region was a major source of people sold into slavery as well as a point from which many departed for the Caribbean. The materials to be analyzed consist of documents that have not been fully examined by linguists, such as local correspondence of the Royal African Company of England. While activities involving the English and their interactions with various West African groups will be the focus of the research, information about others groups of Europeans on the Gold Coast will also be addressed because they were part of the same ecology. According to scholars such as Rodríguez-Ordóñez (2017) and Muysken (2009), language ideologies are highly relevant to understanding the interplay between social experiences, cognitive systems, and linguistic material. Analyzing them in the distant past—the object of study in historical sociolinguistics—can assist in understanding linguistic difference, relations of power and solidarity, and a plethora of metalinguistic references in the archives. Findings will be considered in light of contemporary theories of language contact and recent debates about decolonization and historical memory (e.g., Cubitt 2019).

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