These sentences are examples of how Gullah was spoken in the 19th century:Uh gwine gone dey tomorruh."I will go there tomorrow."We blan ketch 'nuf cootuh dey."We always catch a lot of turtles there."Dem yent yeddy wuh oonuh say."They did not hear what you said."Dem chillun binnuh nyam all we rice."Those children were eating all our rice."'E tell'um say 'e haffuh do'um."He told him that he had to do it."Duh him tell we say dem duh faa'muh."He's the one who told us that they are farmers."De buckruh dey duh 'ood duh hunt tuckrey."The white man is in the woods hunting turkeys."Alltwo dem 'ooman done fuh smaa't."Both those women are really smart."Enty duh dem shum dey?"Aren't they the ones who saw him there?"Dem dey dey duh wait fuh we."They are there waiting for us."
- Fo God mek de wol, de Wod been dey. De Wod been dey wid God, and de Wod been God.
- In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Here are a few Gullah words with African origins. The language or country of origin is listed in parentheses whenever possible:
[Taken from "The Water Brought Us," by Muriel Miller Branch]
A'min - Amen (Wolof)
be - to cultivate, to clean, to remove debris (Temme)
bid', bidi - small bird, small chicken (Kongo)
buckra - white man (Ibidio)
da (dada) - mother, nurse, or elder woman (Ewe)
dash away - to get rid of a bad habit
dayclean - dawn
de - to be (Igbo)
differ - a quarrel
e - pronoun for he, she, it
eh - yes (Igbo)
fanner - a large shallow basket made of wild grass and palmetto, used to thresh rice from its hull.
hudu - to cause bad luck to someone (Via)
kuta - tortoise, turtle (Mende)
nyam, nam - to eat
nanse - spider (Temme)
nana - elderly woman, grandmother (Twi)
oona, hoona - you, singular or plural, from the word "ona," meaning one or a single person
plat-eye - a prowling ghost or evil spirit
shut mout' - secretive or withdrawn
tata - father (Kongo)
tote - to pick up (Kongo)
toti frog - frog (Via)
uni - you, your (Ibo)
yam - sweet potato (Mende)
It was developed among Africans as a way to communicate with people from other tribes and Europeans. For years, people thought Gullah was poor English. In the 1930s, African-American scholar Lorenzo Dow Turner studied Gullah on the Sea Islands. He determined that this language is made up of English and over 4,000 words from many diffThe similarity in the languages is an example of the connection between West Africans and the people from the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia.erent African languages.