Genevieve J Escure

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My major scholarly interests include the morphosyntax of English-based creole languages, issues of identity and gender in postcolonial societies, and endangered languages.

As an English literature major, I researched the 1930s social background for the novels of a Scottish writer, George Blake, who documented the hard times of shipbuilding workers in Greenock and Glasgow, Scotland. I thus discovered working-class Scottish dialects, and the importance of linguistic analysis in literature. My career eventually focused on linguistics, and the search for answers to such questions as: Why, and how does language change? How is language variation determined by social background, identity, gender? Why are language practices so important to our representation of self? Such sociolinguistic issues are a necessary part of the curriculum in the courses I routinely teach, including the Analysis of the English Language, Introduction to Language and Society, World Englishes, Social Variation in American English, and Language and Gender.

Following my initiation to linguistic theory, I specialized in pidgins and creoles- the mixed (African/Indo-European) languages of minority, marginalized populations that were transported to the New World during colonization. I conducted extensive fieldwork in several rural communities of the Caribbean coast of Central America, where English-based creoles are spoken by Creoles (Afro-Caribbean people).  Research on the creole continua took me to Belize (previously British Honduras), and the Bay Islands of Honduras.  I also studied the effect of gender roles and ethnic identity on language development.  I have written several articles in major encyclopedias on the Central American creoles, and I have engaged in an important international project: the Atlas of Pidgin and Creole Languages (Apics), sponsored by the Max-Planck Institute in Amsterdam and Leipzig. The project spans most documented pidgins and creoles around the world and include 60 authors (I am responsible for the Belizean Creole section). The work is completed uniformly through an electronic website which covers a comprehensive range of linguistic features and social aspects of the language. It will make it possible to compare all documented contact languages very easily and will be a useful tool to linguists and anthropologists.

In addition I have investigated the related issue of African-American English (possibly the outgrowth of an earlier creole). In cooperation with members of the Minneapolis African American community, I have completed an analysis of habitual aspect usage in a group of children.

My interest in language universals led me to investigate Chinese –one of the oldest known contact languages- and linguistic variations in Beijing Mandarin (Putonghua), Southwestern Mandarin Chinese (as spoken in Wuhan, Hubei), and in Wu.  Focusing on aspects of discourse, I studied the acquisition of standard varieties by speakers of nonstandard dialects in China, and compared them to pragmatic processes observed in creole communities

Parallel to my interest in creole languages, I developed an interest in Garifuna, an Arawak-based language spoken by Afro-Indians (Garinagu) living in Belize and Honduras besides Creoles, Mestizos, and Amerindians. I am currently writing a dynamic grammar of Garifuna, which has now become an endangered language. I investigate the sociolinguistic processes and factors that lead to language attrition, working with local communities on issues of language maintenance and revitalization.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Linguistics, Indiana University, 1975.

Curriculum Vitae


  • sociolinguistics
  • pidgins
  • creoles and other contact languages
  • Belizean creole (Central America)
  • endangered languages (Garifuna in Belize and Honduras)
  • Garifuna (Belize and Honduras)
  • African-American English, Chinese-English Pidgin English
  • Chinese language variation
  • language, gender and identity
Courses Taught
  • EngL 3851 - The English Language
  • EngL 5815 - History of English
  • EngL 5843 - American Social Dialects
  • EngL 8810 - Language and Society; Language and Gender; Pidgins and Creoles; Contact Languages; Discourse analysis; African-American English
  • EngL 4603: World Englishes
  • EngL 4605: Variation in American English
  • EngL 3960: Senior Seminar (Language and Gender; Contact Languages; Language and Society)
  • EngL 3852: Language and Gender
  • EngL 3601: Analysis of the English Language
  • EngL 1601: Language and Society
  • Topics in Linguistics
  • Aspects of English
  • Pidgins, Creoles and Other Contact Languages
  • Language Policy in Multilingual Societies
  • Structure of the English language/linguistics
  • Sociolinguistics
  • American English and Society
  • Language and Gender
  • Pidgins and Creoles
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Visiting Professor of Linguistics, Stanford University: 1997
  • Visiting Professor of Linguistics, Tsinghua University, Beijing, PRC: Summer 1990
  • Visiting Professor of Linguistics, Central China University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, People's Republic of China: 1985 - 1986
  • President: Society for Pidgin and Creole Languages (JPCL): Organizer and chair: Annual meetings with the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), and biennial meetings with the Society for Caribbean Linguistics (SCL) , 1999 - 2001
  • Organizer and chair: Symposium on "Mixed Varieties of English": IAUPE (International Association of University Professors of English) Jubilee Meeting (Bamberg, Germany; July -August 2001) , 1999 - 2001
  • Editorial Board: Journal of Pigin and Creole Linguistics (JPCL): reviewer of article submissions , 1988 -
  • Vsiting Fellow at Nagoya University, Nagoya , Japan: conduct research activities , give seminars , October 1, 2007 - December 31, 2007
  • Invited lectures: Contact Languages: lectures at universities in Bangkok, Hong-Kong, Singapore and Port-Moresby (Papua New Guinea) , October 20, 2007 - March 20, 2008


  • "Sociolinguistic study of Belizean Creole, and of Bay Islands Creole (Roatan, Honduras)": data collection and analysis of stylistic shift in two related Afro-Caribbean communities; University of Minnesota Graduate School, 1988 - 1990
  • "The acquisition of Standard Chinese by speakers of non-standard dialects (Wuhan, Hubei)": observations of Chinese variation between Putonghua and local varieties, and thier relationship to universal aspects of the acquisition of minority dialects; University of Minnesota Graduate School, 1986 - 1995
  • "Ethnic interaction and language choice : Creoles and Black Caribs in Belize, Central America": Observation of intergroup activities in two communities of Belize: Placencia (Creoles) and Seine Bight (Afro-Indians; University of Minnesota Graduate School), 1978 - 1986
  • "An endangered language: Garifuna in Central America (Belize and Honduras)": Documentation (grammar and digital records); National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2001); University of Minnesota Graduate School (2001-2002); McKnight Research Award (2003-2006), 2000
  • "Gender-based variation in creole communities (Belize)": Analysis of men's and women's language use in Placencia, Belize; University of Minnesota Graduate School, 1990 - 1992, 1990 - 1992


  • Invited speaker: "What is Ebonics?" Radio debate, KMOJ, Minneapolis: January 15, 1997
  • Invited speaker: "Linguistic and social aspects of African-American English," St John's University, Collegeville, MN: February 24, 1997
  • Invited speaker: "Language and Gender,“ Rotary Club, Minneapolis: March 30, 2004
  • Invited presenter: "Ebonics in the community." African-American Family Center; Minneapolis: January 20, 1997
  • Invited speaker: "Creole use in Belizean education." Third Annual Creole Workshop, Florida International University, Miami,Fl: March 20, 1997 - March 23, 1997
  • Documentalist: Collaborative activities with the Garifuna communities of Punta Gorda (Roatan, Honduras), and Seine Bight (Belize): fieldwork on endangered language, and contribution of oral records, 2000 -
  • Pidgins/Creoles and discourse. Escure, Genevieve, Singler, J. and Silvia Kouwenberg, S., Blackwell Handbooks Linguistic Series, Forthcoming.
  • Habitual aspect in Minneapolis African-American English: Escure, Genevieve, Fuller, J.and Thornburg, John Benjamins, Studies in Contact Linguistics: Essays in Honor of G. G. Gilber, Forthcoming.
  • "Atlas of Pidgin and Creole Language Structures (APiCS): Electronic data base for Belizean Creole.": Escure, Genevieve, Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology., "Atlas of Pidgin and Creole Language Structures. Link
  • Belize: Escure, Genevieve, The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, second edition, Forthcoming.
  • “Black/white contacts and the maintenance of identity in Minneapolis African American English: An examination of habitual aspect.". Escure, Genevieve, New York: Peter Lang, Author, 2006.
  • "Pidgins and Creoles": Escure, Genevieve, Paris; UNESCO, (theme 6.91 Linguistics). Inaugural Edition of the EOLSS, Encyclopedia of Life Support systems, 2006.
  • “Belize: Language situation.": Escure, Genevieve, The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, Second Edition Elsevier Publishers., Countries and Language section (Article # 1772) 4 pages + maps and .wav CD, 2005.
  • Garifuna in Belize and Honduras: Escure, Genevieve, Escure, G. and Schwegler, A., John Benjamins, Creoles, Contact and Language Change: Linguistic and Social Implications, 2004.
  • "Variation in pidgins and creoles.": Escure, Genevieve, Oxford: Elsevier, The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, Second Edition. Elsevier Publishers., Variation and language section, (Article # 1488) , 2005.
  • Belizean Creole: Gender, creole, and the role of women in language change. Escure, Genevieve, XXX, 2001.
  • Belize and other Central American varieties: Morphology and syntax (with accompanying CD): Escure, Genevieve, A Handbook of Varieties of English: The Americas and the Caribbean, 2004.
  • The grammaticalization of past in creoles: Escure, Genevieve, American Speech, 74(2) 165-202, 1999.
  • Creoles, Contact and Language Change: Linguistic and Social Implications. Escure, Genevieve, Armin Schwegler, Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, Creole Language Library, vol.27, Co-Editor, 2004.
  • Gender roles and linguistic variation in the Belizean Creole community: Escure, Genevieve, Cheshire, J, Cambridge University Press, English Around the World: Sociolinguistic Perspectives, 39 595-608, 1991.
  • Topic marking particles in creoles and Chinese dialects: Escure, Genevieve, Byrne, F. and Caskey, A, University of Chicago Press, Focus and Grammatical Relations in Creole Languages, II 339-350, 1990.
  • Topic structures as language universals: Escure, Genevieve, Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, 33(2) 159-176, 1988.
  • Belizean Creole: Escure, Genevieve, Holm, J, John Benjamins & Julius Groos Verlag, Central American English, 29-70, 1983.
  • Decreolization in a creole continuum: Belize: Escure, Genevieve, Highfield, A. and A.Valdman, Karoma Press, Historicity and Variation in Creole Studies, 27-49, 1981.
  • Linguistic variation and ethnic interaction in Belize: Creole/Carib: Escure, Genevieve, Giles, H. and Saint-Jacques, B, Oxford:Pergamon Press, Language and Ethnic Relations, 101-116, 1979.
  • Creole and Dialect Continua: Standard Acquisition Processes in Belize and China (PRC). Escure, Genevieve, Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, Creole Language Library, vol.18, Author, 1997.
  • Visiting Fellow, Japan, October 1, 2007 - December 31, 2007
  • McKnight Research Award, University of Minnesota, 2003 - 2006
  • NEH Fellowship: Study of Garifuna, January 2001 - June 2002
  • Gordon L. Starr Award for Student Advising, University of Minnesota, June 1995
  • Gordon L. Starr Award for Student Advising, University of Minnesota, June 1993