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Honorary Member and Past President of the Society for Caribbean Linguistics

Professor Dennis Roy Craig passed away in February 2004.






The following tribute to Professor Craig was written by Dr. Ian Robertson (former President of SCL 1996–1998) and
Dr. Lise Winer (President of SCL 2002–2004).

Dennis Craig was an outstanding Caribbean Educator, Administrator and Linguist.

As an educator of teachers of English, he was one of the most significant contributors to the progress of Language Teacher Education in the Caribbean. His work was seminal to the development of appropriate methodologies for teaching the official languages in creole societies. He was a tireless worker for the improvement of education for children and young adults in the region and elsewhere. Professor Craig also served as examiner for a number of graduate theses in Linguistics and Education up to the time of his unexpected death.

As an administrator, he was known for his benevolent but firm and decisive leadership. Professor Craig served as the first University Dean of the then Faculty of Education of the University of the West Indies. He retired from the University of the West Indies in the late 1980s and subsequently served as the Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana until the mid-1990s.

As linguist, he was held in high esteem by all. He was the first secretary of the Society for Caribbean Linguistics (1972–1976), was president of the SCL from 1980 to 1982, and was an honorary member of the Society. He was particularly encouraging and supportive to young scholars.

He will be very deeply missed by all. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, family and all loved ones.

Citation by Velma Pollard
(originally read at SCL 2000)

In 1956, when Dennis Craig arrived at the (then) University College of the West Indies, Jamaica, to study for the Postgraduate Diploma in Education, he could not have known that save for interruptions for fellowships to London and Columbia universities, the island would be his location for the next three decades. Guyana’s loss was Jamaica’s gain. What fell from Guyana’s head dropped on Jamaica’s shoulders. And on his shoulders Dennis Craig was to carry the weight of studies in Language Education without ever putting it down. The name Dennis Craig soon became synonymous with Language Education in Jamaica. In 1978 he was granted a personal professorship confirming what one book and numerous articles had already told the world.

Professor Craig’s mark on English in both secondary and primary systems in the Caribbean is indelible. He prepared for the secondary school system the textbook series New World English and for the primary system (with Wilson and Campbell), the LMW (Language Materials Workshop) series. He has served as consultant to governments and international entities working on Language and other educational issues with particular reference to the Caribbean.

Without interrupting the flow of his academic production Professor Dennis Craig gave more than his fair share of service to the administration of the UWI as Vice Dean, Head of Teaching Section and Dean of the Faculty of Education. He also represented the faculty on various university and non-university committees and boards.

In 1988 Professor Craig returned to Guyana and began another full career as Education Advisor to the Government of Guyana (1988—91) and Vice Chancellor of the University (1991—95). Evidence of Professor Craig’s continuing involvement with Language Education is the (1999) publication of Teaching Language and Literacy—Policies and Procedures for Vernacular Situations, a book which reflects his concern with both policy and pedagogy in Language Education in the Caribbean and other areas with similar linguistic histories.

Concurrent with all these activities Professor Craig wrote poetry. There are few children schooled in the Caribbean in the last twenty years who cannot recite by heart his most anthologized poem, “Flowers”. In 1998 his book of poetry, Near the Seashore won the coveted Guyana Prize for Literature in the Best First Book of Poetry category.

Professor Craig’s academic career has been at once awesome and inspiring; his contribution to Language Education in the Caribbean unsurpassed. He has left us a legacy of industry and commitment. It is fair to say he died in harness. In a conversation barely a week before his death he described the project he had just completed: workshops and teaching manuals designed to prepare teacher trainers to give teachers the skills required to function in multilingual classrooms, particularly in Guyana where speakers of Amerindian languages and varying levels of Creole share classrooms.

May his soul rest in peace.


Dennis Roy Craig: Selected Publications

1966a. Some developments in language teaching in the West Indies. In Caribbean Quarterly 12(1).

1966b. Teaching English to Jamaican Creole speakers: A model of a multi-dialectal situation. In Language Learning 16 (1/2): 49–61.

1967. Some early results of learning a second dialect. In Language Learning 17(3/4): 133–45.

1969. An experiment in teaching English. London: Ginn.

1971. Education and Creole English in the West Indies: Some sociolinguistic factors. In Pidginization and Creolization of Languages, edited by Dell Hymes, 371–92. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

1974. Developmental and social class differences in language. In Caribbean Journal of Education 4(3): 5–23

1976a. Bidialectal education. Creole and standard in the West Indies. In International Journal of the Sociology of Language (IJSL) 8: 93–134. Reprinted in J.B. Pride (ed.), Sociolinguistic aspects of language learning and teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

1976b. ——— and Carter, S. The language learning aptitudes of Jamaican children at secondary level. In Caribbean Journal of Education. Vol.3 (1): 1–21.

1977. Creole languages and primary education. In Pidgin and Creole Linguistics, edited by Albert Valdman, 313–332. Bloomington/London: Indiana University Press.

1978a. Creole and standard English. Partial learning, base grammar and the mesolect. In International Dimensions of Bilingual Education (Monograph Series on Language and Linguistics 22). edited by J.E. Alatis, 602–20. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

1978b. Language education in a post-creole society. In Case studies in bilingual education, edited by B. Spolsky and R. L. Cooper, 407–26. Rowley, Mass: Newbury House.

1980a. A creole continuum and the theory of grammar. In Issues in English creoles (Varieties of English around the World, G2), edited by R. Day, 111–31. Heidelberg: Groos.

1980b. Models for educational policy in creole-speaking communities. In Theoretical orientations in creole studies, edited by Albert Valdman and R. Highfield, 245–265. New York/London: Academic Press.

1981. ——— and G. Walker-Gordon. New World English, Books 1–2. London: Longman.

1983a. Teaching standard English to non-standard speakers: Some methodological implications. In The Journal of Negro Education 52(1): 65–74.

1983b. New World English, Books 3 and 4. London: Longman Group.

1984. Communication, creole and conceptualization. In International Journal of the Sociology of Language (IJSL) 45: 21–37.

1985. The sociology of language learning and teaching in a creole situation. In Language and Inequality, edited by Walt Wolfram and J. Manes, 273–84. Berlin/NewYork/Amsterdam: Mouton.

1986. Social class and the use of language: a case study of Jamaican children. In Focus on the Caribbean (Varieties of English around the World G8), edited by Manfred Görlach and John A. Holm, 71–116. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Co.

1988. Cognition and situational context. Explanations from English. In International Journal of the Sociology of Language(IJSL) 71: 11–23.

1991. The concept of do in English and English-lexicon creole. In Verb phrase patterns in Black English and Creole, edited by Walter F. Edwards and Donald Winford, 189–208. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

1994. The university in its sociolinguistic context. In People and the environment: Preserving the balance. The report of the proceedings of the fifteenth congress of the universities of the Commonwealth, Swansea, August 1993. UK, Association of Commonwealth Universities.

1996. English language teaching. Problems and prospects in the West Indies. In Education in the West Indies. Development and perspectives 1948–98, edited by Dennis R. Craig et al. Mona: Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), University of the West Indies.

1997a. A situation analysis of primary and secondary education in the Caribbean. Georgetown, Guyana: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat.

1997b. The English of West Indian university students. In Englishes around the world. Studies in honour of Manfred Görlach, Vol. 2, edited by Edgar Schneider, 11–24. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

1999. Teaching language and literacy. Policies and procedures for vernacular situations. Georgetown: Education and Development Services Inc.

2001. Language education revisited in the Commonwealth Caribbean. In Due Respect, edited by Pauline Christie, 61–78. Kingston: UWI Press.


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