CfP When Creole and Spanish Collide: Language and Cultural Contact in the Caribbean 

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Call for Chapter Proposals

Brill’s Caribbean Series

When Creole and Spanish Collide: Language and Cultural Contact in the Caribbean



Glenda-Alicia Leung (Hermann-Paul School of Languages, University of Freiburg)

Miki Loschky (Graduate School of Education, Touro College)

Harald Leusmann (Ball State University)


We are delighted to announce a call for proposals for When Creole and Spanish Collide: Language and Cultural Contact in the Caribbean, a special issue of Brill’s Caribbean Series. The proposal deadline is August 31, 2017; the paper deadline is February 28, 2018.


The collective Caribbean encounter is a juxtaposition of human experiences: sorrow and joy, fragmentation and syncretism, displacement and home. The Caribbean is a canvas of crossings where people come and go, whether of free will or in bondage, in search of riches or exiled from some far away Motherland. The children of the Caribbean suffer wanderlust. They seek greener pastures and with every adventure become degrees removed in the diaspora. Despite drift and shift, linguistic and cultural remembrance is slow to surrender to erasure.

Popularly imagined, the Caribbean invokes images of islands in the sun, swaying palm trees, and carefree people sipping cocktails with delicately coloured umbrellas. Geographically defined, the Caribbean encompasses all that is touched by the ebb and flow of the Caribbean Sea. Not only does the Caribbean include the archipelago of islands between Florida to the north and Venezuela to the south, but also the surrounding Central and South American coastal areas of the mainland, constituting the Caribbean Basin.

Since Christopher Columbus rediscovered the Americas in the late fifteenth century, the Caribbean Basin has been an arena where European nations have competed for control and conquest. The linguistic diversity of the region bears witness to this. English, Spanish, French, and Dutch—languages of conquering European nations—are official languages which exist alongside other creole language varieties. At various points in history, creole English speakers from various islands made the crossing—forcibly or willingly—to Spanish-speaking countries in the region. Belize, for instance, is unique as it is the only country in Central America where English is the official language. Belize’s history with creole English can be traced back to the seventeenth and eighteenth century, long before the territory was even under British rule; British settlers seeking to exploit Belize’s logwood resources brought laborers from Jamaica and Bermuda with them who were primarily creole English speakers.  Other waves of migration to the mainland occurred after the collapse of slavery and the plantation system in the nineteenth century. Successive generations of West Indians sought opportunities on Central American soil.  Many went to Panama and contributed to building the Panama Railroad and Panama Canal, while others found work in Costa Rica at the United Fruit Company in railway construction and on banana plantations during the late nineteenth to early twentieth century.

In 1983, creolist John Holm brought together linguistic scholarship on various creole English enclaves in an edited volume, entitled Central American English. The book’s coverage included Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, as well as offshore islands of Providencia, San Andrés, and the Caymans.

Pioneering in its time, this work was seminal as it documented extensive fieldwork and provided the reader with a synchronic snapshot of each creole variety, in addition to cross-creole comparative analysis. Holm went on to author the two volume Pidgin and Creoles titles, which are commonly regarded in the field as fundamental reference works for those in creole linguistics. In the second volume Pidgins and Creoles: Volume 2 Reference Survey, Holm (1988, 1989) afforded coverage to these Central American English-based creole varieties, providing a historical sketch and description of each variety. In recent scholarship, The Survey of Pidgin and Creole Languages (Michaelis, Maurer, Haspelmath, & Huber, 2013) a highly ambitious and the most comprehensive work to date on creoles around the world, lends a contemporary look at a small subset of Central American English-based creoles, namely those spoken in Belize, Colombia, and Nicaragua. Contact between English-based creoles and Spanish is by no means restricted to Central America. In John Lipski’s chapter contribution “Spanish and Portuguese in Contact” (2013), which appears in Raymond Hickey’s edited volume The Handbook of Language Contact (2013), Lipski lays out “salient, contemporary contact zones” and identifies additional territories within the Caribbean Basin where Spanish is in contact with English-based creoles, such as Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, which remain largely underrepresented in linguistic scholarship.

The interplay of languages within these zones of contact also include English, which presents an additional layer of intricacy. A creole language continuum situation complexifies the speaker’s milieu in that there is the English-based creole on the one hand, referring to basilectal and/or mesolectal varieties, juxtaposed with its standard/acrolectal and non-standard English forms.

Book description

In this special issue of Brill’s Caribbean Series, we propose the edited volume When Creole and Spanish Collide: Language and Cultural Contact in the Caribbean, which focuses on those enclaves in Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean where English/Creole speaking West Indians settled and their language and culture still survives. This volume is ambitious in its scope as we seek contributions on Spanish and Creole/English contact zones within the Caribbean Basin, encompassing ten territories outlined below. We also invite proposals that address diasporic flows and cyber communities that inhabit digital spaces. The overarching goal of this interdisciplinary volume is provide a space for comparative, contemporary scholarship as it pertains to the territories/communities where English/Creole is spoken in primarily Spanish-speaking societies, thus deepening our understanding of cultural and linguistic pluralism. The thematic scope of the volume covers three broad areas of language, education, and anthropology, as described in detail below.

Geographical Scope

Territories and language varieties are restricted to:

  • Belize—Belizean Creole English

  • Colombia—particularly the off-shore islands Providencia and San Andrés where Islander Creole English is spoken (a.k.a. Bende or San Andres Creole)

  • Costa Rica—particularly the region the Limón where Limonese Creole English is spoken (a.k.a. South Western Caribbean Creole English, Mekatelyu)

  • Cuba—where there is potential contact with Jamaican Creole English and where Baragua may still survive

  • Dominican Republic—where there is contact with Jamaican Creole English and where Samana English is spoken

  • Honduras—specifically Bay Island  English and enclaves on the North Coast where creole is spoken

  • Nicaragua—Miskito Coast Creole English (a.k.a. Nicaraguan Creole English, Rama Cay Creole English, or Bluefields Creole English)

  • Panama—areas such as Boca de Toros where Panamanian Creole English is spoken (a.k.a. Guari Guari or Patois)

  • Puerto Rico—where there is contact with West Indian Creole English

  • Venezuela—where there is contact with West Indian Creole English (e.g., El Callao)

  • Anywhere that linguistic and cultural practices are evident in diasporic or digital communities (e.g., North American contexts, in bordering countries, social media, online forums, etc.)

Thematic scope

We are looking for proposals that explore Creole/English and its speakers from the territories named above in relation to language, educational, and cultural practices and realities. Relevant topics include, but are not limited to:


  • language contact phenomena (language maintenance, shift, attrition, and death) primarily between Creole/English and Spanish (and/or English and indigenous languages);

  • creole language (structure, phonology, pragmatics, semantics, orthography, diachronic and synchronic variation);

  • multilingual practices (social and structural code switching, code mixing, code meshing, and language acquisition);

  • language socialization (culturally embedded child-caregiver dynamics, learning community language practices through socialization);

  • creole as an identity marker (acts of identity, crossing, style, and stance);

  • literary contributions and analysis of writers of West Indian heritage.


  • critical and participatory literacy (voicing, advocacy, praxis, accent, identity, teachers as learners);

  • critical pedagogy (mass media, discourse, de/coloniality, teachers as researchers);

  • critical research methods and participatory action research (e.g., portraiture, testimonio, critical case studies, critical ethnography).


  • cultural identity (including Afro-Caribbean, American-Caribbean, Spanish-Caribbean, and West Indian Caribbean identities);

  • cultural hybridity reflected in performance art (music, dance, theater), visual art (drawings, paintings, sculptures, photography, installations), and costumes/fashion;

  • cultural practices (e.g., religion, celebration of holidays, carnival, and other festivals);

  • family dynamics (family structures, marriage, roles of men, women, and children);

  • cultural context (the effect of culture and history on behavior and ways of living).

Proposal Submission

Interested authors are invited to submit proposals online by August 31, 2017. Proposals should be submitted at Authors will receive acceptance notification by September 30, 2017. Please direct questions regarding submissions to

Proposals should contain the following information:

  • Proposed chapter title

  • Author name(s) and affiliation(s)

  • 1000 word (maximum) chapter proposal

  • 50-100 word biography for each author

  • Clear identification of the territory addressed

Chapter Submission

Contributions between 5000-7500 words (including bibliography and notes) are welcome. DUE on February 28, 2018 (if accepted).

Important Dates

  • DEADLINE for proposal submission: August 31, 2017

  • Notification of acceptance: September 30, 2017

  • First draft of chapters: February 28, 2018

  • Final draft of chapters: May 30, 2018

  • Projected publication: 2019

Prospective Readership

The target audience for this volume includes linguists, educators, cultural studies scholars, literary scholars, anthropologists, language policy makers, communication scholars, and students in higher education.

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