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LORENZO DOW TURNER'S (1949) Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect is a priceless source of insight and material on Gullah from the first half of the twentieth century. Gullah is also known as Geechee in Georgia and elsewhere. Consequently, the name of the language and of the associated culture is rendered as Gullah Geechee or Gullah/ Geechee today. I mostly utilize Turner's (1949) term in what follows for ease of comparison. Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect features at its core an extensive vocabulary which Turner mapped to a variety of West African languages. Unlike sources before or since, this corpus of lexical items is presented in professional phonetic transcription and contains a wealth of etymologies. It has been influential in documenting lexical Africanisms, but further linguistic details have been rarely investigated. Portions of the vocabulary have been considered in general discussions of the African component of Gullah and in relation to other Caribbean and Atlantic creole languages (Cassidy 1980 et seq., Hancock 1980). It continues to play a critical role in tracing African naming practices in Gullah and African American English historically (Baird & Twining 1991, Holloway 2005). The historian Michael Gomez has found that "some 274 [of the names in Turner's study] have a possible Muslim connection" (2010: 122). This is linguistic evidence for his argument that Muslims were important as founders of African American communities in the early South. Turner (1949) treats the sounds of Gullah in relation to West African languages at considerable length. Most of his discussion focuses on consonants and vowels. Phenomena such as stress, tone, and syllable structure are given fairly short shrift. These phonological components are significant, however, in gauging the precise degree of African linguistic influences in the Gullah lexicon. Turner's use of phonetic transcription enables advanced investigations into, for example, the syllable structure of the West African source languages and cultures and the Gullah names. Such analysis can help to illuminate Turner's generalization that "[t]he sounds of Gullah show many striking resemblances to those of several West African languages." Salikoko Mufwene (1985) has uncovered certain vowel and consonant patterns in Turner's collection of Gullah personal names that show restructuring of the African base as an impact of English. Thus, we know that West African phonology is not matched one-to-one in Gullah. On the other hand, given Turner's general argument and his meticulous linguistic effort, one might expect that African retentions should permeate other aspects of the phonology of Gullah vocabulary besides personal names.

March 22
The Black Scholar
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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