The Gullah Culture
Gullah History & Culture
Gullah, is a name for the people, a language, and the culture of the coastal regions of South Carolina, Georgia and it’s surrounding Sea Islands. In Georgia, the people and culture are known as “Geechee”. The Gullah language continued to flourish due to the isolation of many plantation communities and secluded Sea Islands. Because the sea islands were only accessible by boat until the 1950’s, the Gullah language continued to perpetuate.
Derived from English dialects along with African roots, the Gullah language has been spoken for generations and many continue to speak the language today. Like many of the first slaves in this country, a great part of the speech patterns reveal a similar correlation to the languages spoken on the Western Coast of Africa. It is believed that one particular country and language, which draws a direct correlation to the Gullah language, is Sierra Leone and the spoken language of Krio.
Many of the words are similar to those spoken in English. However the variations come from intonations in pronunciation, shifts in consonant sounds and spelling omissions. Here are some examples:
chillun (translation: children)
‘leb’n (translation: eleven)
mout’ (translation: mouth)
box-up (translation: closed tightly).
Here is an example of the spoken Gullah language formed in a sentence using some of the above words:
‘e mout’ all box-up! (translation: His mouth has a sullen expression.)
De chillun full’up wid baa’beque. (translation: The children filled their stomachs up with barbecue.)
In honor of an American heritage that has yet to be thoroughly discovered and begging to be preserved, we at Lillie’s of Charleston have named many of our products using Gullah expressions. We wish to expose the world to all of Charleston’s and the surrounding Low Country's flavor!
Historical Reference Links:
Family Across the Sea (Copyright of South Carolina Educational Television, 1990)