The earliest Gullah/AAVE texts : a case of 19th century mesolectal variation

  • The earliest known extensive texts in Gullah (and perhaps African American Vernacular English as well) to appear in print were published in The Riverside Magazine for Young People in November, 1868, under the title "Negro Fables" (p. 505-507). These are four animal stories, which the editor of the magazine, Horace Elisha Scudder, described in his column only as having been "taken down from the lips of an old negro, in the vicinity of Charleston" (see Appendix for the editor´s comments and the full text of the stories).2 The Story-Teller was evidently a genuine "man of words" (Abrahams, 1983), a true raconteur who could artistically embellish a simple traditional account (perhaps further embellished by the transcriber) in a variety of ways. That he commanded a certain range of Gullah is evident from particular signature features in the texts, but the absence of other typical Gullah features and the presence of shared Gullah/African American Vernacular English usages, together with the periodic appearance of standard English forms, demonstrate that these texts provide perhaps the earliest actual documentation (apart from early tertiary comments, cited e.g. in Feagin, 1997, p. 128-129) of register variation or style/code-switching among Gullah speakers. ...

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Author:Rudolph C. Troike
Parent Title (English):Journal of Pidgin and Creole languages : JPCL
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2008/11/03
Year of first Publication:2003
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2008/11/03
Page Number:71
First Page:159
Last Page:229
Dewey Decimal Classification:4 Sprache / 49 Andere Sprachen / 490 Andere Sprachen
Licence (German):License LogoArchivex. zur Lesesaalplatznutzung § 52b UrhG