Sea-Island Dialect of South Carolina

About the Project

How did Lorenzo Dow Turner (1890?1972), the first professionally trained African American linguist, discover the speaking pattern of the Gullah people was actually a Creole language, heavily influenced by the languages of West Africa? Transcribe his 1930s and 1940s interviews with the Gullah people to learn more about their living conditions, beliefs, and American experience.

Until the 1930s in the United States it was believed that African Americans had not retained knowledge of the culture and languages of their ancestors. Scholars dismissed Gullah, the language spoken in the Sea Islands, as ?baby talk? or simply ?bad English.? All that changed by the breakthrough research of Professor Turner. Through pioneering research he proved that Gullah was a Creole Language with words and a distinctive grammar derived from African languages and that African Americans had retained some African customs, especially in naming their children.

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