Have you ever heard of Gullah English?


Oh yeah, it is time to talk about languages and it makes me feel really good. Y’all know how much I love communications and how interested in language I have been since I was a little boy. So, this time I will highlight this amazingly distinct English-based language called Gullah. So, to set us off, read the summary of what I am talking about and enjoy the beauty of this language.


The Gullah language is what linguists call an English-based creole language. Creoles arise in the context of trade, colonialism, and slavery when people of diverse backgrounds are thrown together and must forge a common means of communication. According to one view, creole languages are essentially hybrids that blend linguistic influences from a variety of different sources. In the case of Gullah, the vocabulary is largely from the English “target language,” the speech of the socially and economically dominant group; but the African “substrate languages” have altered the pronunciation of almost all the English words, influenced the grammar and sentence structure, and provided a sizable minority of the vocabulary. Many early scholars made the mistake of viewing the Gullah language as “broken English”, because they failed to recognize the strong underlying influence of African languages. But linguists today view Gullah, and other creoles, as full and complete languages with their own systematic grammatical structures. 

For further information, click on The Gullah.

Something that I personally consider important to point out is that for many years, this original language had not been considered a language and the first scholar to make a serious study of the Gullah language was the late Dr. Lorenzo Turner, who published his findings in 1949. As a Black American, Dr. Turner was able to win the confidence of the Gullah people, and he revealed many aspects of their language that were previously unknown. Dr. Turner found that Gullah men and women all have African nicknames or “basket names” in addition to their English names for official use; and he showed that the Gullah language, like other Atlantic Creoles, contains a substantial minority of vocabulary words borrowed directly from African substrate languages.

51T3Z6cvxTL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ Lorenzo Dow Turner portrait

You might be asking yourselves where you can find it now and is that a way I could practice it and learn more about it? And that’s the answer right here. You can definitely schedule a visit to the The Gullah Museum.


By now you might be anxious to hear that and see this language put into practice. You should get your headphones and set them up because you are about to hear one of the most fantastic languages I’ve ever gotten in touch with. However, before you watch the video focused on the language itself, get to know a little more about their tradition and history.

Oh yeah, and did you know that Gullah has influenced directly the Black Music that we know today? It did! But I would like to invite you now to watch this video below. You finna watch a video that is more focused on the language itself.

Wow, now you know what I am talking about. Who would imagine that the English Bible was used and seen as a book of freedom by the slaves? That is fascinating to me. Hope you are enjoying it. Well, but you know it is time to dash off and for us to finish this post, I would like to share this last video with you. Enjoy it and have an awesome day!

Don’t be a stranger!! Come back as often as you can. English Black Friday is for you to learn English through Black American culture, music, comedy, and so much more. For more about Black English and its history, click on African American Vernacular English.

This is a bonus video for you:

Thank you for coming out and showing your support.
This material has been selected, adapted, analyzed, and put together by Rodrigo P. Honorato.

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