Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 18:06:29 +0200
From: David Sutcliffe
Subject: Congaree Swamp; Gullah

Dear List,

I have been working on the Ex-Slave Recordings (recordings of African
Americans born before the Civil War)and on other sources of earlier
African American Vernacular English (AAVE). I already have enough
evidence to suggest very strongly that there was a Gullah-like variety
in widespread use in the South, during the 19th century.

Now, I've come across the writings of ECL Adams which recreate the AAVE
in use in or near the Congaree Swamp in central South Carolina, in the
earliest years of the 20th century. The Congaree Swamp is around 150
miles inland from the Gullah Coast, and yet surprisingly the dialect
is/was evidently very Gullah-like. In fact (judging from Adam's
evidence) it is/was linguistically half way between AAVE as we know it
and Gullah. So it seems to provide the missing link that many linguists
have assumed was not there.

I'd be very interested in hearing more about this Congaree speech, if
subscribers have more information (my only source is excerpts from Adams
in Harold Courlander's African American Anthology).

I'd also be glad to hear of any other evidence for a 19th century
Plantion Creole (or semi-creole) outside the Gullah area as such, or in
fact of any survival of archaic AAVE forms of any nature in the
continental United States.

Thanks, in anticipation

David Sutcliffe
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Rambla 30-32
08002 Barcelona