Words R Us
- Gullah (gul)
Gullah developed on the Sea Islands off the coast of the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida throughout the 18th and 19th centuries among slaves and escapees from the coastal plantations. They developed a language that combined grammatical, phonological, and lexical features of the non-standard English varieties spoken by white slaveholders and farmers in that region of the United States along with those from numerous Western and Central African languages. The vocabulary of Gullah comes primarily from English, but there are numerous words of African origin.
Some of the early slaves spoke a Guinea Coast Creole English (also called West African Pidgin English) before being brought to the Americas. Guinea Coast Creole English was one of many languages spoken along the West African coast during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries as a language of trade between Europeans and Africans and among multilingual Africans. It seems to have been prevalent in British coastal slave trading centers such as James Island, Bunce Island, Elmina Castle, Cape Coast Castle and Anomabu.
In the 1830's an initative of the U.S. Government sent thousands of former slaves back to Liberia, thus re-introducing many terms into the language now known as
or Liberian English.
While there are now just a handful of people who speak Gullah, there are several million speakers of Kolokwa which up until recently has been strictly spoken. We are working to document Kolokwa using the resources which are available for Gullah.