The Frank J. McLoraine Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Linguistics and Humanities Collegiate Division

Office: Wieboldt 411
Phone: (773) 702-8531

Dr. Mufwene currently works on language evolution, focusing on language speciation (including the emergence of creole language varieties, of African-American English, and of indigenized Englishes), on the phylogenetic emergence of language, and on colonization, globalization, and the vitality of languages (including language birth and death). He is also exploring ways in which economics bears on language vitality and language influences economic development. His earlier work was on structural aspects of Gullah, of Caribbean English creoles (chiefly Jamaican and Guyanese Creoles), and of African American English, as well as the morphosyntax of Bantu (especially Kituba, Lingala, and Kiyansi). He was trained in lexical semantics and lexicography (the focus of his earliest scholarship), in syntax, and in language contact. He has been at Chicago since January 1992.

Recent Publications 


• 2001. The ecology of language evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chinese translation, at Commercial Press, Beijing, August 2012.
• 2001. English translation and revisions of Robert Chaudenson: Des îles, des hommes, des langues, under the title Creolization of language and culture. London: Routledge. (co-translators: Sheri Pargman, Sabrina Billings, & Michelle AuCoin.)
• 2005a. Polymorphous linguistics: Jim McCawley's Legacy, lead editor, co-edited with Elaine J. Francis and Rebecca S. Wheeler. MIT Press.
• 2005b. Créoles, écologie sociale, évolution linguistique: cours donnés au Collège de France durant l'automne 2003. L'Harmattan (Paris).
• 2008a. Globalization and language vitality: Perspectives from Africa, co-edited with Cécile B. Vigouroux. Continuum Press.
• 2008b. Language evolution: Contact, competition, and change. Continuum Press.
• 2014a. Colonisation, globalisation, vitalité du français, co-edited with Cécile B. Vigouroux. Odile Jacob (Paris).
• 2014b. Iberian imperialism and language evolution in Latin America, edited volume, University of Chicago Press.
• 2017. Complexity in language: Developmental and evolutionary perspectives, lead editor, co-edited with Christophe Coupé& François Pellegrino. Cambridge University Press.
• in press. Bridging Linguistics and Economics, co-edited with Cécile B. Vigouroux. Cambridge University Press.
• in preparation. Ecological linguistic perspectives on language endangerment. Springer.
• in preparation. The Cambridge handbook of language contact, lead editor, with Anna María Escobar. Cambridge University Press.
Refereed Scholarly Articles:
• 2010. "Second language acquisition and the emergence of creoles." State-of-the-art article. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 32.1-42.
• 2011. "An ecological account of language evolution! Way to go!" Commentary on Luc Steel's 'Modeling the cultural evolution of language.'" Physics of Life Reviews 8.367-368.
• 2011. "Transmission, acquisition, parameter-setting, reanalysis, and language change." A response to Jürgen Meisel. Bilingualism: Language and Acquisition 14.152-155.
• 2012. "Individuals, populations, and timespace: Perspectives on the ecology of language." (Co-authored with Cécile B. Vigouroux.) Cahiers de Linguistique 38.2: 111-138.
• 2015. "Modeling the emergence of creole vernaculars," co-authored with Francesca Tria, Vito D. P. Servedio, & Vittorio Loreto. PLoS ONE DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0120771 (Main article, 11pp; Supporting information, 23pp).
• 2015. "L'émergence des parlers créoles et l'évolution des langues romanes: faits, mythes et idéologies." Études Créoles 33.1-29.
• 2016. "Ecologia da língua: algumas perspectivas evolutivas." Ecolinguística: Revista Brasileira de Ecologia Linguagem 2.18-40.
• 2016. "Language evolution, by exaptation, with the mind leading." New Horizons in Evolutionary Linguistics. Journal of Chinese Linguistics Monograph Series 27: 155-186. Guest-edited by Gang Peng.
• 2017a. "Individuals, populations and timespace: Perspectives on the ecology of language Revisited." Language Ecology 1.75-103 (co-authored with Cécile B. Vigouroux).
• 2017b. "Language vitality: The weak theoretical underpinnings of what can be an exciting research area." Language 93.e-202-e223.
• 2017c. “It’s still worth theorizing on LEL, despite the heterogeneity and complexity of the processes (Response to the commentators).” Language. Perspectives 93.e306-e316.
• 2018. “‘Socio-Cultural Transmission’ in Language Evolution? Comment on ‘Rethinking [the] Foundations of Language from a Multidisciplinary Perspective’” by Tao Gong, Lan Shuai, & Yicheng Wu. Physics of Life Reviews.
• 2019. “The legacy of Braj B. Kachru through World Englishes and Culture Wars.” World Englishes, 1-8.
Other Scholarly Articles:
• 2010. "Globalization and the spread of English: What does it mean to be Anglophone?" English Today 101.57-9.
• 2012. "English as a lingua franca: Myths and facts." Journal of English as a Lingua Franca 1-2: 365-370.
• 2014. "The case was never closed: McWhorter misinterprets the ecological approach to the emergence of creoles.” Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 29: 157-171.
• "Creoles and pidgins do not have inadequate lexica: A response to Peter Mühlhäusler." Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 30.142-158.
Chapters in Books:
• 2012a. "The emergence of complexity in language: An evolutionary perspective." In Complexity perspectives on language, communication, and society, ed. by Ángels Massip-Bonet & Albert Bastardas-Boada, 197-218. Springer Verlag.
• 2012b. "From genetic creolistics to genetic linguistics: Lessons we should not miss!" In the Proceedings of the 34th Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, Special Session on Pidgins, creoles, and mixed languages, ed. by Sarah Berson et al, 65-86.
• 2012c. "Driving forces in English contact linguistics." In English as a contact language, ed. by Daniel Schreier and Marianne Hundt, 204-221. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• 2012d. "What Africa can contribute to understanding language vitality, endangerment, and loss." In Proceedings of the 6th World Congress of African Linguistics, Cologne, 17-21 August 2009, ed. by Matthias Brenzinger & Anne-Maria Fehn, 69-80. Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.
• 2012e. "Gullah." In The Mouton world atlas of variation in English, ed. by Bernd Kortmann & Kerstin Lunkenheimer, 141-155. Mouton de Gruyter.
• 2013a. "Language as technology: Some questions that evolutionary linguistics should address.' In In search of Universal Grammar: From Norse to Zoque, ed. By Terje Lohndal, 327-358. John Benjamins.
• 2013b. "The origins and the evolution of language" (Ch. 1), The Oxford handbook of the history of linguistics, ed. by Keith Allan, 13-52. Oxford University Press.
• 2013c. "Kikongo-Kituba." Atlas of Pidgins and Creoles, vol. 3, ed. by Susanne Michaelis, Martin Haspelmath, et al., 1-13 Oxford University Press.
• 2013d. “The ecology of language: Some evolutionary perspectives.” In Da fonologia à ecolinguística: um caminho dedicado à linguagem (Homenagem a Hildo Honório do Couto), ed. by Elza Kioko N. N. do Couto, Davi Borges de Albuquerque, and Gilberto Paulino de Araújo, 302-327. Brasíia: Thesaurus.
• 2013e. “What African linguistics can contribute to evolutionary linguistics.” In Selected Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Conference on African Linguistics: Linguistic Interfaces in African Languages, ed. by Olanike Ola Orie and Karen Wu, 52-67. Somerville, MA: Casadilla Press.
• 2014a. “Language ecology, language evolution, and the actuation question.” In Language contact and change: Grammatical structure encounters the fluidity of language, ed. by Tor Afarli & Brit Maelhum, 13-35. John Benjamins.
• 2014b. “Latin America: A linguistic curiosity from the point of view of colonization and the ensuing language contact.” In Iberian imperialism and language evolution in Latin America, ed. by Salikoko S. Mufwene, 1-37. University of Chicago Press.
• 2014c. “Globalisation et vitalité du français: vieux débats, nouvelles perspectives” (co-authored with Cécile B. Vigouroux). In Colonisation, globalisation et vitalité du français, ed. by Salikoko S. Mufwene & Cécile B. Vigouroux, 7-44. Paris: Odile Jacob.
• 2014d. “Globalisation économique mondiale des XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles, émergence des créoles, et vitalité langagière.” In Langues créoles, mondialisation et éducation, Proceedings of the 13th colloquium of the Comité International des Etudes Créoles, Mauritius 2012, ed. by Arnaud Carpooran & Yannick Bosquet-Ballah. St. Louis, Mauritius: Creole Speaking Unit, pp. 23-79.
• 2014e. “The English origins of African American Vernacular English: What Edgar Schneider has taught us.” In The evolution of Englishes: Empirical and theoretical perspectives on world Englishes, ed. by Sarah Buschfeld, Magnus Huber, Thomas Hoffmann, & Alexander Kautzsch. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Pp. 350-365.
• 2015. "Des langues et des récits dans l'espèce humaine: une perspective évolutive." In Corps en scènes, ed. by Catherine Courtet, Mireille Besson, Françoise Lavocat, Alain Viala, 127-137. CRNS Editions.
• 2015. "The emergence of creoles and language change." In The handbook of linguistic anthropology, ed. by Nancy Bonvillain, 348-365. Routledge.
• 2015. "The emergence of African American English: Monogenetic or polygenetic? Under how much substrate influence?" In The Oxford handbook of African American language, ed. by Sonja Lanehart, 57-84. Oxford UP.
• 2015. "Creole and pidgin language varieties." In International encyclopedia of behavioral and social sciences, 2nd edition, ed. by James Wright, 133-145. Elsevier.
• 2015. "Race, racialism, and the study of language evolution in America." Language variety in the South: Historical and contemporary approaches, ed. by Michael Picone & Katherine Davis, 449-474. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.
• 2016. "Évolution différentielle du français: une interprétation écologique." In La méthode et enjeux, ed. by Annette Boudreau, 211-235. Saint-Nicolas, Quebec: LesPResses de l'Université de Laval.
• 2016. "A cost-and-benefit approach to language loss," in Endangerment of languages across the planet, ed. Martin Pütz & Luna Filipovic, 116-143. John Benjamins.
• to appear. "Genetic creolistics as part of evolutionary linguistics," in The handbook of historical linguistics, ed. Brian Joseph, Richard Janda, & Barbara Vance.
• to appear. "The evolution of language as technology: The cultural dimension," in Beyond the meme, ed. William Wimsatt & Alan Love. University of Minnesota Press.
• to appear. "Language evolution from an ecological perspective." In Handbook of ecolinguistics, ed. Alwin Fill & Hermine Benz. Routledge.
Review Articles:
• 2010. "The role of mother-tongue schooling in eradicating poverty: A response to Language and Poverty," eds. Wayne Harbert et al. Language 86.910-932.
• 2013. “Simplicity and complexity in creoles and pidgins: What’s the metric?”, A response to Simplicity and complexity in creoles and pidgins, ed. by Nicholas Faraclas & Thomas B. Klein, Journal of Language Contact 6.161-179.

 Except for the books, most of these publications and more can be downloaded from Professor Mufwene's personal website by clicking on the Goodies link. 

• Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1979