Welcome! My name is Maciej Widawski /pron. MAH-chey vee-DAHF-skee/ and I am a linguist specializing in language variation, description and education. This page explains in some detail my main academic and professional endeavors. Specifically, it provides information about my interests, qualifications, appointments, research, publications, and teaching. You can access it by using the navigation tools above. You can also check out my other webpage and my profiles on the UKW's Department of English Linguistics and the Chronicle of Higher Education webpages for more information. If you would like to contact me, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My work encompasses three interconnected disciplines: sociolinguistics, descriptive linguistics, and applied linguistics. As a sociolinguist, I study language in social context, especially language variation and language contact. As a descriptive linguist, I work with language description and documentation, particularly on the lexical level. As an applied linguist, I am concerned with fieldwork data collection and language education, especially teaching the structure of English to speakers of other languages. My main contribution to these two fields lies in documenting and explaining language variation -- informal, social, ethnic, geographical, occupational, generational -- and demonstrating its linguistic value and cultural importance in educational contexts.
My research agenda has so far comprised twenty projects involving such themes as ethnic variation in American English, informal lexicon of main varieties of English, and learner dictionaries. My particular forte is informal language, and I am perhaps one of the few scholars worldwide specializing in slang, the most informal yet also socioculturally revealing type of vocabulary. My projects have been funded externally by such grant programs as the Fulbright Foundation and Santander Universidades, and have allowed me to do research at such academic centers as the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University. The results of these projects have yielded eighteen books including Yinglish (2012) and The Dictionary of Spanish Loanwords in American Slang (2015).
A representative example of my research is one of my most recent books, African American Slang: A Linguistic Description (Cambridge University Press, 2015 [reprinted in 2019]). It explores patterns of form, meaning, theme and function of African American slang, showing it to be rule-governed, innovative and culturally revealing. The comprehensive description is based on a large database of contextual citations from thousands of contemporary sources including literature, print media, music, film, TV and oral data collected during field work in the U.S. The book also includes a glossary of 1,500 representative slang expressions, defined and illustrated by 4,500 usage examples. Combining scholarship with user-friendliness, this is an insightful and practical resource for students and researchers interested in sociolinguistics and ethnolinguistics. You can view some of its contents here.
My teaching experience is extensive. I have worked both at small, teaching-intensive colleges such as WSB University, and at large research universities such as the University of Gdansk, and I feel comfortable teaching both small-sized classes and large-audience lectures. Content-wise, I have taught diverse linguistic courses at the B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. levels, chiefly aimed at non-native speakers of English, especially prospective teachers or translators. These have included core courses on linguistic structure -- such as phonetics, phonology, morphology, or introduction to linguistics -- and more specialized courses which draw upon my area of research -- such as a fieldwork course on data collection and documentation which allows students to try their own hand at gathering and using data from the field as well as my “flagship” lectures on informal and geographical varieties of English which have broad appeal, especially for international students. The latter courses also include seminars on language in a sociocultural and ethnic context which take the form of interactive dialogue with students and inspire them to write their theses on linguistic phenomena connected with their current interests.
As for my administrative experience, I have performed a number of functions both in large institutes and smaller departments. I served as Deputy Director of the Institute of English at the University of Gdansk and was involved in most aspects of administrative work including monitoring the scholarly progress of faculty, developing curriculum, supervising admissions, and developing research cooperation with other academic centers. At UG, I also served as Director of Department of Sociolinguistics and Lexicography. My role included organizing research seminars, evaluating and mentoring younger colleagues, expanding the curriculum, enlarging the departmental library, and representing the Department outside the academia. My most recent administrative role has been Director of the Department of English Linguistics at the UKW University in Bydgoszcz. It is similar to my previous roles and -- to avoid repeating all duties -- essentially involves overseeing the daily progress of the department toward achieving its goals and facilitating its long-range development within the context of the university vision.