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Gullah in the diaspora: Historical and linguistic evidence from the Bahamas

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The status of Gullah and Bahamian Creole English (BahCE) within the Atlantic English creoles and their historical relationship with African American Vernacular English (AAVE) have long been a matter of discussion. It was assumed that Gullah and BahCE are ‘sister’ varieties sharing an immediate ancestor in the eighteenth-century creole English spoken on plantations in the American South. We present historical and linguistic data, including a statistical analysis of 253 phonological, lexical, and grammatical features found in eight Atlantic English creoles, to show that Gullah and BahCE are indeed closely related — so closely in fact that BahCE must be considered a ‘diaspora variety’ not of AAVE but of Gullah.

Keywords: African American Vernacular English (AAVE); Bahamian Creole English; Gullah; historical and sociohistorical approach; lexicostatistics; loyalists

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-12-01

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