Shelome Gooden

  • Professor
  • Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research in the Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Related Fields

I am a native speaker of Jamaican Creole and according to my grandfather, a descendant of the Igbos.  I am a Creolist and Sociolinguist by trade and the main thrust of my research is the prosody of Caribbean Creoles varieties. I guess I should confess that I was a syntactician in a former life (pre graduate school), and in some sense I must have always been interested in the structure of Creole languages, because here I am now looking at higher level phonological structure in these varieties....the 'syntax' (grammatical structure) of intonational melodies.  I was first introduced to structural differences between Jamaican Creole and Standard Jamaican English by my Grade 4 primary school teacher, Eric McKenzie, who asked his class of mostly 9 yr olds to compare sentences in the 2 languages. More than 12 years later I would do a first degree in Linguistics at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus in Jamaica where I had the opportunity to learn from pioneers in the field of Creole Linguistics and later on complete both an MA and PhD in Linguistics at The Ohio State University.

Thesis: The long held belief that Creole languages constitute a typological class on purely structural grounds has been debunked (see discussions in Mufwene 2000; Winford 2003; DeGraff 2003, 2005 among many others). Similarly, Creolists no longer adhere to the notion that Creole formation is a necessarily unique set of circumstances that led to a special set of characteristics, hence the view towards L2 acquisition for example.  Even though most of these discussions are centered around morphosyntactic aspects of the languages, these advances appear to be forgotten when it comes to the prosody. My research on prosody addresses some of these issues.

Courses Taught

LING 1578/2578 Phonetics and Phonemics 
LING 1579/2579 Phonology 
LING 3579 Advanced Phonology  
LING 1273 Aspects of Sociolinguistics  
LING 1235 Pidgins and Creoles 
LING 2274 Language Contact

Education & Training

  • PhD in Linguistics The Ohio State University
  • MA in Linguistics, The Ohio State University
  • BA in Linguistics, University of the West Indies (Mona, Jamaica)

Representative Publications

 (2020). S. Gooden, A. Soudi, K. Park, V. Kinloch. Cultural and Linguistic Diversity: A multifaceted approach. In A. Murrell, J. Petrie and A. Soudi (eds). Diversity Across Disciplines: Research on People, Policy, Process and Paradigm. Information Age Publishing. pp.131-144.

 (2019). S. Gooden. In the Fisherman’s Net. Language Contact in a sociolinguistics context. In R. Blake & Isabelle Buchstaller (eds). The Routledge Companion to the Work of John R. Rickford. Routledge.pp.17-25. Invited.

 (2018). L-F. Lai and S. Gooden. The spread of raised (ay) and (aw) in Yami: From regional distinctiveness to ethnic identity marker. Journal of Linguistic Geography 6 (2). pp.125–44, doi:10.1017/jlg.2018.8

(2017). The Caribbean – Trinidadian and Jamaican (with Kathy-Ann Drayton, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Trinidad). In Listening to the Past (Raymond Hickey, ed). Cambridge University Press. pgs.414-443 

(2015). African American Language: Pittsburgh and the Lower Susquehanna Valley (with Jennifer Bloomquist, Gettysburg College). In the Oxford Handbook of African American Language. Sonja Lanehart, Jennifer Bloomquist & Lisa Green (eds). Oxford University Press.

(2014). “Aspects of the Intonational Phonology of Jamaican Creole”. In Prosodic Typology Volume II: Intonational Phonology of Understudied and Fieldwork Languages. Sun-Ah Jun (ed). Oxford University Press.

(2011). (Editor with Clancy Clements). Benjamins Current Topics 36- Language Change in Creole Languages: Grammatical and Prosodic Considerations. John Benjamins.

(2009). Tone Inventories and Tune-Text Alignments. (first author with Kathy-Ann Drayton and Mary Beckman). In Language Change in Creole Languages: Grammatical and Prosodic Considerations. Studies in Language. 33:2, pgs.  396-436.    

Research Interests


This aspect of my research focuses primarily on synchronic descriptions of the phonology of Caribbean English lexified Creoles and secondarily on putative West-African substratum influences on these systems. My dissertation research discussed the acoustic-phonetic (F0) differences between segmentally identical reduplicated words in Jamaican Creole. I show that these are stress-based differences which allow for prosodic disambiguation of these words.  Since then my interest has turned to the prosodic typology of (Caribbean) Creoles whose prosodic systems are said in some cases to combine (putative) lexical tone and stress. I examine word level aspects of prosody in my work on the Acoustic Properties of Stress in Jamaican Creole, and phrase level aspects of prosody in work on the Intonational Phonology of Jamaican Creole. I am currently involved in a collaborative project with Kathy-Ann Drayton considering cross-Creole comparisons between Jamaican Creole and Trinidadian Creole. In a 2009 paper with Mary Beckman, we take the controversial view that the prosodic properties of Caribbean Creoles are not too disimilar from prosodic properties of several non-creole languages we survey.


I am also interested in the sociocultural aspects of language use in African-diaspora language varieties.  So far, I have only looked at AAVE in Pittsburgh and reported on this in collaborative work with Maeve Eberhardt. The initial report appears in the Penn Working Papers in Linguistics 13:2. The main focus of the research is on issues related to language use as a reflection of ethnicity and local Pittsburgh identity. In a separate project I have begun to look at the prosody and intonational phonology of the variety. A very preliminary report appears in Lanehart (2009), chapter 8.


As a graduate student, I designed a funded research program to gain a better understanding of morphosyntactic variation in the tense-aspect system of English-based Creoles. I focussed on Belizean Creole as the intial data was made available to me by Don Winford and I later conducted my own fieldwork in Bermudian Landing and in Belize City, Belize (Central America). I consider theoretical and analytical issues in a narrative/discourse approach to tense-aspect while taking into account the aktionsarten of verbs. A very early version of the results appears in the Penn Working Papers in Linguistics 8:3 and a more full-bodied discussion appears in the English World Wide journal (29:3).


Site visits:  Belize and Jamaica
Consultant Work: Kikuyu, Trinidadian Creole, Vincentian Creole
Database work: Sranan, Belizean Creole, AAVE

Research Cluster