Few linguists have analyzed the famous African American folktales published by Joel Chandler Harris, but most who have done so have strongly supported the authenticity of Harris's representation of the language used in the stories. Harris's use of Gullah in some of his stories, however, has escaped professional attention except by one linguist, Sumner Ives, who confirmed the phonological accuracy of the representation. The in-depth analysis undertaken here of one of Harris's “Daddy Jack” tales (1881), comparing the language used with other more modern sources, linguistic as well as literary, and with data on other creoles, demonstrates overwhelmingly that Harris's “constructed Gullah,” while slightly biased toward a “basilectal” version (as was Lorenzo Dow Turner's), is extraordinarily accurate in most respects, and should be recognized as the earliest extensive valid record of this variety.

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