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Encyclopedia > Gullah language
Gullah
Spoken in: United States 
Region: coastal regions from North Carolina to Florida; Sea Islands; small clusters in New York City [1]
Total speakers: 250,000[1]
Language family: English-based creoles
 Gullah
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2: cpe
ISO 639-3: gul

  Official language(s) English Capital Raleigh Largest city Charlotte Area  Ranked 28th  - Total 53,865 sq mi (139,509 km²)  - Width 150 miles (240 km)  - Length 560[1] miles (901 km)  - % water 9. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... The Sea Islands are an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. ... New York, NY redirects here. ... Current distribution of Human Language Families A language family is a group of related languages said to have descended from a common proto-language. ... An English-based creole language, or English creole for short, is a creole language that was significantly influenced by the English language. ... A creole language, or simply a creole, is stable language that originated from a non-trivial combination of two or more languages, typically with many features that are not inherited from any parent. ... ISO 639-1 is the first part of the ISO 639 international-standard language-code family. ... ISO 639-2 is the second part of the ISO 639 standard, which lists codes for the representation of the names of languages. ... ISO 639-3 is in process of development as an international standard for language codes. ...

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The Gullah language (Sea Island Creole English, Geechee) is a creole language spoken by the Gullah people (also called "Geechees"), an African American population living on the Sea Islands and the coastal region of the U.S. states of South Carolina and Georgia. Image File history File links AmericaAfrica. ... Image File history File links AmericaAfrica. ... An African American (also Afro-American, Black American, or simply black) is a member of an ethnic group in the United States whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Africa. ... African American history is the history of an ethnic group in the United States also known as Black Americans. ... Military history of African Americans is that of African Americans in the United States since the arrival of the first black slaves in 1619 to the present day. ... The Atlantic slave trade, started by the Portuguese[1], but soon dominated by the English, was the sale and exploitation of African slaves by Europeans that occurred in and around the Atlantic Ocean from the 15th century to the 19th century. ... Slave sale in Easton, Maryland The history of slavery in the United States began soon after Europeans first settled in what became the United States. ... See also: American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968) The civil rights movement in the United States has been a long, primarily nonviolent struggle to bring full civil rights and equality under the law to all Americans. ... Prominent figures of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. ... The Jim Crow Laws were state and local laws enacted in the Southern and Border States of the United States and enforced between 1876 and 1965 and affected African Americans and many other races. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... The word Maafa (also known as the African Holocaust or Holocaust of Enslavement) is derived from a Kiswahili word meaning disaster, terrible occurrence or great tragedy. ... For the automotive term, see redline. ... A.U.M.P. Church AME Church National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. ... Haile Selassie I Rasta, or the Rastafari movement, is a religion and philosophy that accepts Haile Selassie I, the former Emperor of Ethiopia, as God incarnate, whom they call Jah. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... Islam (Arabic:  ) is a monotheistic religion based upon the teachings of Muhammad, a 7th century Arab religious and political figure. ... The Doctrine of Father Divine are the teachings of the late Father Divine (d. ... Ifá is a system of divination that originated in West Africa among the Yoruba people. ... 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Gullah is based on English, with strong influences from West and Central African languages such as Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Mandinka, Wolof, Bambara, Fula, Mende, Vai, Akan, Ewe, Kongo, Umbundu, and Kimbundu. The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...  Western Africa (UN subregion)  Maghreb[1] West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. ... Yoruba (native name ede Yorùbá, the Yoruba language) is a dialect continuum of West Africa with over 22 million speakers. ... Igbo is a language spoken in Nigeria by around 18 million people (1999 WA), the Igbo, especially in the southeastern region once identified as Biafra. ... Hausa is the Chadic language with the largest number of speakers, spoken as a first language by about 24 million people, and as a second language by about 15 million more. ... The Mandinka language, sometimes referred to as Mandingo, is a Mandé language spoken by some 1. ... Wolof is a language spoken in Senegal, the Gambia, and Mauritania, and it is the native language of the ethnic group of the Wolof people. ... Bambara, also known as Bamanankan in the language itself, is a language spoken in Mali by as many as six million people (including second language users). ... The Fula language is a language of West Africa, spoken by the Fula people from Senegal to Cameroon and Sudan. ... The Mende language is a major language of Sierra Leone, with some speakers in neighboring Liberia. ... Vai language is a language of Liberia. ... The Akan language belongs to the Kwa language family. ... Ewe (native name , the language) is a Kwa language spoken in Ghana and Togo by approximately three million people. ... Kongo or Kikongo is the Bantu language spoken by the Bakongo people living in the tropical forests of Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo and Angola. ... Umbundu is a language spoken by the Ovimbundu people in the central highlands of Angola. ... Kimbundu is one of the most widely spoken pre-colonial languages in Central Africa. ...

Contents

African origins

Like other Atlantic creoles, Gullah derives from the Guinea Coast Creole English (also called West African Pidgin English) that developed along the West African coast in the 1600s and 1700s as a way for Africans to communicate with Europeans and with members of other African tribes with whom they traded. Gullah strongly resembles the Krio language of Sierra Leone, a major West African English-based creole, Bahamian Dialect, Jamaican Creole, and Belizean Creole. West African Pidgin English, also called Guinea Coast Creole English, was the lingua franca of commerce along the West African coast during the era of the Atlantic slave trade. ... West African Pidgin English, also called Guinea Coast Creole English, was the lingua franca of commerce along the West African coast during the era of the Atlantic slave trade. ... Krio is a creole language native to the Krios, a community of about 250,000 descendants of freed slaves living in Sierra Leones capital city of Freetown. ... Bahamians speak an English creole or a dialect of English, known in the Bahamas as Bahamian Dialect. ... Jamaican Creole, also known locally as Patois/(Patwa) or simply Jamaican, is an English/African-based language --not to be confused with Jamaican English nor with the Rastafarian use of English-- used primarily on the island of Jamaica. ... Belizean Kriol, Kriol, or quite simply Belizean, is one of the main branches of Central American Creole English, closely related to Miskito Coastal Creole, Colón Creole, and San Andrés and Providencia Creole. ...


Some African-derived words commonly used in Gullah are: cootuh ("turtle"), oonuh ("you"), nyam ("eat"), buckruh ("white man"), pojo ("heron"), swonguh ("proud"), benne ("sesame"), and biddy ("baby chick"). Species  Pseudemys alabamensis  Pseudemys concinna  Pseudemys floridana  Pseudemys gorzugi  Pseudemys nelsoni  Pseudemys peninsularis  Pseudemys rubriventris  Pseudemys suwanniensis  Pseudemys texana Pseudemys is a genus of pond turtles also known as Cooter Turtles. ... Genera See text. ... Binomial name Sesamum indicum L. Sesame (Sesamum indicum) is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum. ...


Lorenzo Turner's research

In the 1930s and 1940s an African American linguist named Lorenzo Dow Turner did a seminal study of the Gullah language. Turner found that Gullah is strongly influenced by African languages in its sound system, vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure, and semantic system. Turner identified over 300 loanwords from various African languages in Gullah and almost 4,000 African personal names used by Gullah people. He also found Gullahs living in remote sea-side settlements who could recite songs and story fragments and do simple counting in the Mende, Vai, and Fulani languages of West Africa. Turner published his findings in a classic work called Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect (1949). His book, now in its 4th edition, was most recently reprinted with a new introduction in 2002. Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... A loanword (or loan word) is a word directly taken into one language from another with little or no translation. ... The Languages of Africa is a seminal 1963 book of essays by Joseph Greenberg, in which he sets forth a genetic classification of African languages that, with some changes, continues to be the most commonly used one today. ...


Before Lorenzo Turner's work, mainstream scholars viewed Gullah speech as substandard English, a hodgepodge of mispronounced words and corrupted grammar uneducated black people developed in their efforts to copy the speech of their English, Irish, Scottish, and French Hugenot slave owners.[citation needed] But Turner's study was so well researched and so convincingly detailed in its presentation of evidence of African influences in Gullah that academics soon reversed course. After Turner's book was published in 1949, scholars began coming to the Gullah region on a regular basis to study African influences in Gullah language and culture.


Gullah verbs

The following sentences illustrate the basic verb tense and aspect system in Gullah:

Uh h'ep dem -- "I help them/I helped them" (Present/Past Tense)
Uh bin he'p dem -- "I helped them" (Past Tense)
Uh gwine he'p dem -- "I will help them" (Future Tense)
Uh done he'p dem -- "I have helped them" (Perfect Tense)
Uh duh he'p dem -- "I am helping them" (Present Progressive)
Uh binnuh he'p dem -- "I was helping them" (Past Progressive)

African grammar influence

These sentences illustrate African grammatical and syntactical influences in 19th century Gullah speech. Note the literal, word-for-word translations into English used here in order to show the influence of African sentence structure:

Da' big dog, 'e bite'um -- "That big dog, it bit him" (Topicalization)
Duh him cry out so -- "It is him cried out that way" (Front Focusing)
Uh tell'um say da' dog fuh bite'um -- "I told him said that dog would bite him" (Dependent Clauses with "Say")
De dog run, gone, bite'um -- "The dog ran, went, bit him" (Serial Verb Construction)
Da' duh big big dog -- "That is big big dog" (Reduplication)

Sample Sentences

These sentences are examples of how Gullah was spoken in the 19th century:

Uh gwine gone dey tomorruh. -- "I will go there tomorrow."
We blan ketch 'nuf cootuh dey. -- "We always catch a lot of turtles there."
Dem yent yeddy wuh oonuh say. -- "They did not hear what you said."
Dem chillun binnuh nyam all we rice. -- "Those children were eating all our rice."
'E tell'um say 'e haffuh do'um. -- "He told him that he had to do it."
Duh him tell we say dem duh faa'muh. -- "He's the one who told us that they are farmers."
De buckruh dey duh 'ood duh hunt tuckrey.--"The white man is in the woods hunting turkeys."
Alltwo dem 'ooman done fuh smaa't. -- "Both those women are really smart."
Enty duh dem shum dey? -- "Aren't they the ones who saw him there?"
Dem dey dey duh wait fuh we. -- "They are there waiting for us."

Gullah storytelling

The Gullah people have a rich storytelling tradition strongly influenced by African oral traditions, but also informed by their historical experience in America. Their stories include animal trickster tales about the antics of "Buh Rabbit", "Buh Fox", "Buh Wolf," "Buh Gator," "Buh Partridge," etc.; human trickster tales about clever and self-assertive slaves; and morality tales designed to impart moral teaching to children. The trickster figure Reynard the Fox as depicted in an 1869 childrens book by Michel Rodange. ... Brer Rabbit is a fictional character, the hero of the Uncle Remus stories derived from African American folktales of the Southern United States. ... Brer Fox is a fictional character from the Uncle Remus folktales adapted and compiled by Joel Chandler Harris. ...


Several white American writers collected Gullah stories in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The best collections were made by Charles Colcock Jones, Jr. from Georgia and Albert Henry Stoddard from South Carolina. Jones (a Confederate officer during the Civil War) and Stoddard were both planter class whites who grew up speaking Gullah with the slaves (and later, freedmen) on their families' plantations. Another collection was made by Abigail Christensen, a Northern woman whose parents came to the Low Country after the Civil War to assist the newly freed slaves. Ambrose E. Gonzales, another writer of South Carolina planter class background, also wrote his own original stories in 19th century Gullah, based on Gullah literary forms. Gonzales' works are still well remembered in South Carolina today. Ambrose Elliott Gonzales (May 27, 1857 - July 11, 1926) was born in Paulo Parish, South Carolina. ...


The linguistic accuracy of these writings has have been questioned because of the authors' social backgrounds, but these works provide the best information we have on the Gullah language as it was spoken in its more conservative form during the 19th century.


A Gullah story

This story, called "Buh Lion an Buh Goat," was first published in 1888 by story collector Charles Colcock Jones, Jr.:


Buh Lion bin a hunt, an eh spy Buh Goat duh leddown topper er big rock duh wuk eh mout an der chaw. Eh creep up fuh ketch um. Wen eh git close ter um eh notus um good. Buh Goat keep on chaw. Buh Lion try fuh fine out wuh Buh Goat duh eat. Eh yent see nuttne nigh um ceptin de nekked rock wuh eh duh leddown on. Buh Lion stonish. Eh wait topper Buh Goat. Buh Goat keep on chaw, an chaw, an chaw. Buh Lion cant mek de ting out, an eh come close, an eh say: "Hay! Buh Goat, wuh you duh eat?" Buh Goat skade wen Buh Lion rise up befo um, but eh keep er bole harte, an eh mek ansur: "Me duh chaw dis rock, an ef you dont leff, wen me done long um me guine eat you." Dis big wud sabe Buh Goat. Bole man git outer diffikelty way coward man lose eh life.


Translation: Buh Lion was hunting, and he spied Buh Goat lying down on top of a big rock working his mouth and chewing. He crept up to catch him. When he got close to him, he watched him good. Buh Goat kept on chewing. Buh Lion tried to find out what Buh Goat was eating. He didn't see anything near him except the naked rock which he was lying down on. Buh Lion was astonished. He waited for Buh Goat. Buh Goat kept on chewing, and chewing, and chewing. Buh Lion couldn't make the thing out, and he came close, and he said: "Hey! Buh Goat, what are you eating?" Buh Goat was scared when Buh Lion rose up before him, but he kept a bold heart, and he made (his) answer: "I am chewing this rock, and if you don't leave me (alone), when I am done with it I will eat you." This big word saved Buh Goat. A bold man gets out of difficulty where a cowardly man loses his life.


Gullah language today

The Gullah language is spoken today by about 250,000 people in coastal South Carolina and Georgia. Although some scholars argue that Gullah has changed little since the 19th century, it is clear that at least some decreolization has taken place. In other words, some African-influenced grammatical structures that were present a century ago are no longer found in the language today. Nonetheless, Gullah is still decidedly a creole language and still quite distinct from English. The South Carolina Low Country is a term used to describe the states coastal counties, generally south of Charleston. ...


For generations, outsiders stigmatized Gullah speakers, regarding their language as a mark of ignorance and low social status. As a result, Gullah people developed the habit of speaking their language only within the confines of their own homes and local communities, and avoided the possibility of being seen speaking it in public situations outside the safety of their home areas. Ironically, the prejudice of outsiders was probably a factor in helping preserve the language. Social stigma is severe social disapproval of personal characteristics or beliefs that are against cultural norms. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was raised a Gullah speaker in coastal Georgia. When asked why he has little to say during hearings of the court, he told a reporter that the ridicule he received for his Gullah speech as a young man caused him to develop the habit of listening rather than speaking in public.[1] The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C., (large image) The Supreme Court of the United States, located in Washington, D.C., is the highest court (see supreme court) in the United States; that is, it has ultimate judicial authority within the United States... Clarence Thomas (born June 23, 1948) is an American jurist and has been an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States since 1991. ...


But in recent years educated Gullah people have begun promoting use of Gullah as a symbol of cultural pride. In 2005, Gullah community leaders announced the completion of a translation of the New Testament into modern Gullah, a project that took more than 20 years to complete.


Gullah New Testament

This passage is from the New Testament in modern Gullah:


Now Jedus been bon een Betlem town, een Judea, jurin de same time wen Herod been king. Atta Jedus been bon, some wise man dem dat study bout de staa dem come ta Jerusalem fom weh dey been een de east. And dey aks say, "Weh de chile da, wa bon fa be de Jew people king? We beena see de staa wa tell bout um een de east, an we come fa woshup um op. Wen King Herod yeh dat, e been opsot fa true. And ebrybody een Jerusalem been opsot too. E call togeda all de leada dem ob de Jew priest dem and de Jew Law teacha dem. E aks um say, "Weh de Messiah gwine be bon at?" Dey tell King Herod say, "E gwine be bon een Betlem town een Judea."


Translation: Now Jesus was born in Bethlehem town, in Judea, during the same time when Herod was king. After Jesus was born, some wise men that studied about the stars came to Jerusalem from where they were in the east. And they asked, "Where is the child, who was born to be the Jewish king? We saw the star which told about him in the east, and we came to worship him. When King Herod heard that, he was truly upset. And everybody in Jerusalem was upset too. He called together all the leaders of the Jewish priests and the Jewish Law teachers. He asked them, "Where will the Messiah be born?" They told King Herod that, "He will be born in Bethlehem town in Judea."


Notes

  1. ^ a b Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (2005). Sea Island Creole English. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Ethnologue. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.

2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the Anno Domini era. ... March 1 is the 60th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (61st in leap years). ...

External links

Further reading

  • Geraty, Virginia Mixon (1997) "Gulluh fuh Oonuh: A Guide to the Gullah Language," Orangeburg, SC: Sandlapper Publishing Company.
  • Jones-Jackson, Patricia (1987) "When Roots Die: Endangered Traditions on the Sea Islands," Athens: University of Georgia Press.
  • Joyner, Charles (1984) "Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community," Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
  • Montgomery, Michael (ed.) (1994) "The Crucible of Carolina: Essays in the Development of Gullah Language and Culture," Athens: University of Georgia Press.
  • Turner, Lorenzo Dow (2002) "Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect," Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.
  • Wood, Peter (1974) "Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion," New York: Knopf.

Books in the Gullah language

  • Christensen, Abigail (1969) "Afro-American Folk Lore Told Round Cabin Fires on the Sea Islands of South Carolina," New York: Negro Universities Press.
  • Gonzales, Ambrose Elliott (1969) "With Aesop Along the Black Border," New York: Negro Universities Press.
  • Jones, Charles Colcock (2000) "Gullah Folktales from the Georgia Coast," Athens: University of Georgia Press.
  • Parsons, Elsie Clews (1923) "Folk-Lore of the Sea Islands, South Carolina," New York: American Folk-Lore Society.
  • Sea Island Translation Team (2005) "De Nyew Testament (The New Testament in Gullah)," New York: American Bible Society.
  • Stoddard, Albert Henry (1995) "Gullah Animal Tales from Daufuskie Island, South Carolina," Hilton Head Island, SC: Push Button Publishing Company.

Films in the Gullah language

Listen to the Gullah language


  Results from FactBites:
 
Britain.tv Wikipedia - Gullah language (1753 words)
The Gullah language is a creole language spoken by the Gullah people (also called "Geechees"), an African American population living on the Sea Islands and the coastal Lowcountry region of the U.S. states of South Carolina and Georgia.
Gullah is based on English, with strong influences from West and Central African languages such as Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, Mende, Vai, Akan, Kikongo, and Kimbundu.
Gullah strongly resembles the Krio language of Sierra Leone, a major West African English-based creole, Bahamian Creole, Jamaican Creole, and Belizean Creole.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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