University of South Carolina Press

Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect

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A unique creole language spoken on the coastal islands and adjacent mainland of South Carolina and Georgia, Gullah existed as an isolated and largely ignored linguistic phenomenon until the publication of Lorenzo Dow Turner's landmark volume Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect. In his classic treatise, Turner, the first professionally trained African American linguist, focused on a people whose language had long been misunderstood, lifted a shroud that had obscured the true history of Gullah, and demonstrated that it drew important linguistic features directly from the languages of West Africa. Initially published in 1949, this groundbreaking work of Afrocentric scholarship opened American minds to a little-known culture while initiating a means for the Gullah people to reclaim and value their past. The book presents a reference point for today's discussions about ever-present language varieties, Ebonics, and education. For readers today the book offers important reminders about the subtleties and power of racial and cultural prejudice.

In their introduction to the volume, Katherine Wyly Mille and Michael B. Montgomery set the text in its sociolinguistic context, explore recent developments in the celebration of Gullah culture, and honor Turner with a recounting of his life and scholarly accomplishments.

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