News Releases

Tributes to Professor Richard Allsopp

For Release Upon Receipt - June 9, 2009

St. Augustine

Tribute to Professor Allsopp By Pedro L V Welch, Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Education, The University of the West Indies

The Faculty of Arts and General Studies (later to become the Faculty of Humanities and Education) is indebted to Richard Allsopp who, almost single-handedly built the discipline of Linguistics from the ground up. His dedication to the development of the lexicography project in the Faculty, which eventually bore fruit to his magnum opus Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage, clearly established the Faculty and the Cave Hill campus on the cutting age of research into the creole languages of the Caribbean. In my personal contact with him, the lasting image that I have is that of an individual who was meticulous to a fault. His elevation as Reader, in those days when that intermediate step between the posts of Senior Lecturer and Professor existed, was a clear recognition of the importance of his research. Indeed, our recognition of him as Humanities Scholar added further evidence of the esteem in which we held him. It is perhaps unfortunate that we did not ensure that the elevation to the Professorship followed in quick succession before his retirement. In any case, his work stands as a testimony to an intellectual whose insistence on high standards helped to ensure that the self-image of the Faculty as the “art-beat” of the Campus became a reality.

Tribute to Professor Allsopp By Professor Woodville Marshall

Tribute by Richard Allsopp, like many serious and committed scholars, was a prickly and demanding colleague; and I have no doubt that he was as demanding of his students as he was of his colleagues. In my contact with him over a period of forty plus years, I was always impressed by, first, his commitment to ensuring that all teaching, especially Use of English, did promote logical thinking and clear exposition; and, second, by his almost fierce promotion of his research in lexicography. Indeed, it did seem that, as his interest in that project sharpened and as he managed to garner resources for its implementation, little else mattered. In that respect he was a sort of a model of what a scholar might be.

Tribute to Professor Allsopp By Professor Peter Roberts

Richard Allsopp was a pioneer in the documentation of the words of the Caribbean – he started this work on a small scale in the 1950s in the then British Guiana, continued it when he transferred to the fledgling campus of the UWI in Barbados in 1962 and increased his coverage of the Caribbean until his eventual retirement from the UWI at the end of the 20th century. His lexicography work therefore spans the last half of the 20th century.

From its inception, Allsopp headed the Caribbean Lexicography Project, which started with a grant from the Ford Foundation of the USA, and from it emerged the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. This project touched the lives of many people across the Caribbean at various levels. Allsopp always saw his lexicography work as integral part of the development of the Caribbean and Caribbean scholarship. He therefore fought hard to have it funded and recognised at the highest levels.

Allsopp was also instrumental in the development of the Use of English course for the whole of the UWI and in fact, for the first generation of students at the Barbados campus, he came to be synonymous with Use of English. Allsopp became such a familiar figure that a person from somewhere else in the world, not remembering the details of his address, simply addressed his letter to ‘Dr. Richard Allsopp, Allsopp University, Barbados’ and the letter reached without any problem.

Allsopp was a man who exuded an air of authority and many of the students whom he taught regarded him as the ultimate authority on the English Language. However, it is not in all cases that his love of correctness endeared him to his secretarial staff, who in some cases regarded him as an overly fussy person for insisting on the correct use of commas and other punctuation marks.

Allsopp was a product of a generation which saw worthwhile academic scholarship as something to be pursued with an almost religious zeal and unlimited financial support. He was an intensely Caribbean person and fought off challenges from those from elsewhere who sought to usurp their position to gain undue prominence. He never wavered in his zeal to establish Caribbean English as a part of the English-speaking world and just as important as any other variety of English.

Tribute to Professor Allsopp By Keith Hunte

I joined the staff of the College of Arts and Sciences (later the Cave Hill Campus) in September 1964, one year after the establishment of the College. I had been appointed Assistant Lecturer in History within the Division of Survey Courses and Social Sciences. It was to Dr. Richard Allsopp, Chairman of that Division and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of General Studies that I reported for duty at the Deep Water Harbour Site where the College was located until 1967.

Dr. Allsopp had been recruited one year before and together with Professor Leslie Robinson, Acting Principal of the College had done much of the preparatory work in recruiting staff, putting in place the appropriate infrastructure to support the curricula leading to the award of the B.A. and Bsc. Degrees of UWI. I was the second full-time lecturer in the History section of the Division of Survey Courses and Social Sciences. The first appointee was Dr. Anthony Phillips, a fellow student at the Mona Campus. Other aborigines included Charles Hollingsworth, Lecturer in Spanish , Robin Russell, Lecturer in Chemistry , and Victor Cooke, Finance Officer and later Campus Bursar.

Dr. Allsopp was one of the builders of the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill. Major discipline, Linguistics, was not on the undergraduate curriculum in those early years. His primary teaching responsibility was the foundation survey course, Use of English, which all students were required to take in their first year at the University. Heavy teaching loads and commensurate administrative duties were the norm. Richard seemed to thrive on this double-burger.

In concert with other Linguists at the other two campuses, Richard planned for the development of the discipline, Linguistics, within the undergraduate and post-graduate offerings at the three Campuses. His primary research interest was Caribbean Lexicography and he invested much of his time and energy in ground-breaking work in this field. Indeed, even after he had reached the age of retirement, he seized the opportunity to direct most of his scholastic energy on his creation, the Caribbean Lexicography Project. His major triumph was the publication of Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage in 1996.

We owe Professor Richard Allsopp a great debt of gratitude for his all-round contribution towards the building of the academic community and the promotion of scholarship at the University. This debt was partially acknowledged when he was promoted to the rank of Reader and later Professor.

It would be remiss of me if I did not record that his beloved spouse, Jeannette, a Linguist and scholar in her own right, collaborated with him on the Caribbean Lexicography Project.

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