News Releases

A Distinguished Caribbean Scholar passes on

For Release Upon Receipt - June 9, 2009

St. Augustine

Professor Stanley Reginald Richard Allsopp, retired UWI Professor of Caribbean Lexicography at the Cave Hill Campus, died Wednesday June 3rd, after years of failing health. His death brings to an end a long period of unique and brilliant service to the intellectual development of the Caribbean and its Diaspora. Principal Sir Hilary Beckles described the former Cave Hill academic as “the quintessential Caribbean man of words, a scholar steeped in the finest tradition of regional research who internationalised his discipline of lexicography in the way no other has done”. He was not only a brilliant academic; he was a colleague who gave his entire energy to the building of the UWI at Cave Hill. “We will remember him as an unmatched advocate of the University’s mission in Caribbean civilisation and as a prophet of reason and tolerance in the forging of cultured consciousness” noted Sir Hilary. “In his passing we will miss his voice but will remain enriched by the enormous wealth of his legacy” Sir Hilary added.

Former Cave Hill Principal Sir Keith Hunte who joined the University a year after Allsopp, said the region owes the late linguist a great debt of gratitude for his all-round contribution towards the building of the academic community and the promotion of scholarship, a debt “partially acknowledged when he was promoted to the rank of Reader and later Professor.”

Historians Professor Alvin Thompson, Professor Woodville Marshall, Dr. Karl Watson and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Dr. Pedro Welch were among many former colleagues who fondly recalled Professor Allsopp and paid tribute to his contribution to the academy.

Professor Allsopp joined the fledgling College of Arts & Science in Barbados of the University of the West Indies as its first Lecturer in English, in 1963; serving soon after as a significant member of its development and management team in his capacities as Vice-Dean and Chairman of the Division of Survey Courses and Social Sciences. He would go on to serve the University in a variety of capacities: as the Campus’ first Public Orator, as a member of Council and of Senate, to name a few. At the College’s Harbour Site and later its

He designed and developed a first year course in The Use of English as a compulsory University-wide course, and with it developed a reputation for rigorous teaching and examining, and insistence on exacting standards. His pioneering role as a Caribbean linguist/creolist had earlier resulted in his membership of a group of 13 scholars who gathered for the inaugural International Conference on Creole languages held at Mona, Jamaica, in 1959. His dissertations at the masters and doctoral levels were the first known theses in any Caribbean creole. His seminal work in Creole Studies and in particular on phonology, on structure and on the African origins of Caribbean creoles would later bring prestige to him and to the University.

Not surprisingly then, Professor Allsopp together with colleagues across the University was instrumental in the early 1970s in the introduction of linguistics studies at the UWI and in the design and teaching of a range of linguistics courses. His purpose, in his own words was “to use the discipline of linguistics, never as an end in itself…, but as an instrument for the study and appreciation of the usage and structure of the English Language as it has developed in the Caribbean; firstly as being basic to education in general and secondly as crucial to the proper acquisition of a foreign language by any Caribbean student.” Over the years he served as Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Senior Research Fellow and Reader and ultimately as Professor, of the UWI at Cave Hill, in this field, reflecting a distinguished record of scholarly work.

In 1971, Professor Allsopp launched the Caribbean Lexicography Project and became its first Director and Coordinator. The product of this project, his landmark Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage (1996) was the culmination of over 20 years of dedicated and singular effort with limited resources. With this “stupendous work” (as described by the The Economist) he sealed his reputation not only as a lexicographical scholar, but as a major contributor to Caribbean education and cultural understanding. His Dictionary was followed in 2005 by his well received work, A Book of Afric Caribbean Proverbs.At the international level, Professor Allsopp is the first and only West Indian invited to serve on the editorial board of the Oxford English Dictionary and the American Heritage Dictionary. He also served as the English language consultant to the Church of the Province of the West Indies for the Book of Common Prayer.

Born in Guyana in 1923, Richard Allsopp was the eldest son of Stanley and Eloise Allsopp. He attended the prestigious boys’ school, Queens College, and studied for his PhD at the University of London. On his return to Guyana he taught at Queens College and in 1962, became the first Guyanese to be the School’s acting principal. In 1958 he was awarded the Crane Gold medal for the most outstanding contribution to education in British Guiana. In 2003 the University honoured his work and his signal contribution to Caribbean culture and scholarship by conferring on him the Honorary degree of Doctor of Letters, an uncommon distinction for a member of its community. In his citation, the University’s Public Orator aptly described Professor Allsopp as a “gentle giant of a scholar and gentleman, [an] eloquent epitome of Caribbean cultural expression…, [a]human computer of the language, passions and culture of Caribbean people.” In 2004, the Barbados Government awarded him the country’s second highest national honour, The Companion of Honour - CHB, for his distinguished contribution to education.

Professor Allsopp leaves to mourn his wife Jeannette, his younger brothers Philip and Bertie Allsopp; children, Disa Allsopp, Sophia Cambridge, John and Marie Allsopp, along with five grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. The University deeply regrets his passing and extends its deepest condolences to his family.

For more UWI news, please visit our official news website at


Over the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 50 physical site locations across the region, serving over 20 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences.