Salikoko Mufwene mufw at MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU
Thu Jun 15 19:05:02 UTC 2000

     I met Fred Cassidy at a conference of the Society for Caribbean
Linguistics in Aruba in 1980. I was then testing the new waters of creole
studies, kind of retooling myself after graduate training in semantics and
syntax and marginal training in language contact through a reading course.
Fred was one of few people who spoke to me after my presentation and
suggested I pay more attention to subtle semantic distinctions between
constructions that appear synonymous at first glance. His example, as I
remember, was the important distinction between /mi don taak/ and /mi taak
don/ in Jamaican Creole.

     Fred was very helpful to me in subsequent years when we met at
conferences, like in Jamaica in 1984, in Barbados in 1992, and recently in
London in 1997. He paid careful attention to my presentations, my answers
to questions, and to the often-agressive questions I asked other
presenters. (At least that's impression he gave me.) He taught me the value
of collaborating with colleagues who do not share my positions and to
realize that sometimes the differences in our views are not as big as they
seem. In 1997 he even suggested that one specific such a colleage and I
should perhaps get together an write an essay on those specific issues
where we disagree, at least as an exercise in articulating our positions
clearly to each other and bridging our differences. I hope this so-far
nameless and esteemed colleague of mine and I will some day make the time
to honor Fred with such an essay.

     In 1992 I had the privilege of having a paper of mine published in the
Festschrift to him. As much as I hailed his contribution to the debate on
the development of Gullah, I just couldn't resist the congenital impulse of
disputing some of his positions. Fred wrote me about my paper, with thanks,
and promised to address those issues I raised. Nobody else to whose
Festschrift I have contributed has ever written me and I was touched by
Fred's cooperative reaction. What a fine teacher he must have been to those
who were even closer to him! It is a shame he did not have the time, no
live longer enough to say his last words on those issues.

     Like many other scholars, I have been influenced by Fred's work. Every
time I open it, I discover something that the earlier state of my
mind/knowledge was not ready to process on earlier occasions. He was
eclectic and so receptive to new ideas. He was so supportive of younger
scholars. His encouragements meant a world to me.

    Well, Fred, you are gone and have left us so sad. On the other hand,
look what important legacy you have bequeathed all of us with. DARE is only
part of a long litany of accomplishments. I am very grateful and I'll miss


Salikoko S. Mufwene                        s-mufwene at
University of Chicago                      773-702-8531; FAX 773-834-0924
Department of Linguistics
1010 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

More information about the Ads-l mailing list