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date: 13 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Gullah (also known as Geechee or Sea Island Creole) is an African American Language (AAL) variety spoken along the coast and Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia. However, the nature of the relationship between Gullah and other AAL varieties has remained a topic of contention. The earliest statements of the Creolist Hypothesis postulated that African American Vernacular English (AAVE) derived from a Gullah-like plantation creole that decreolized following the breakdown of the plantation system. This theory challenged earlier statements of the Dialectologist (or Anglicist) Hypothesis, which contended that AAVE derived from British English sources, like other English dialects. While most linguistic attention to the Gullah-AAVE connection has been directed at the past, some recent work has also considered the contemporary relationship between these varieties. In this chapter, we reflect on theories about Gullah’s origins and its role in the emergence and continuing development of AAVE.

Keywords: Gullah, Geechee, African American Vernacular English (AAVE), Creolist Hypothesis, Dialectologist (Anglicist) Hypothesis, African American Language (AAL)

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