This article argues that we must revisit the African vocabulary of Gullah presented by Lorenzo Turner's 1949 Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect to uncover phonological patterns not discussed in the original source and to expand coverage to segmental, syllabic, and prosodic structure. Salikoko Mufwene has argued that English phonology dominates the West African personal names that comprise more than half of Turner's classic work, yet, as argued here, significant West African influences persist in Gullah, as well. Phonological patterns from Turner's West African material correspond to those of Gullah lexemes. Distribution of the palatal nasal, the absence of [ə] and [ʌ], and the inventory of syllable types occur in Gullah as unaltered Africanisms. Adjacent vocoids, nasal + obstruent sequences, labio-velar plosives, nasal vowels, and word prosody appear as partially restructured. African words used in conversation are shown to exhibit processes not found in the personal names. The high level of linguistic consciousness for personal names makes it likely that the maintenance of West African phonology is an act of sociolinguistic identity.

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Author notes

thomas b. klein, a native of Germany who took his doctorate from the University of Delaware, taught at Georgia Southern University for more than a decade. He specialized in Gullah/Geechee and other creole languages and Chamorro, the indigenous language of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. He translated Lorenzo Turner's original Gullah/Geechee recordings. Among other works, he was coeditor of Simplicity and Complexity in Creoles and Pidgins (with Nicholas Faraclas, Battlegridge, 2009). He died, after a long illness, on November 17, 2014.

michael adams is Provost Professor of English Language and Literature at Indiana University and president-elect of the American Dialect Society. His latest book is In Praise of Profanity (Oxford UP, 2016). E-mail: adamsmp@indiana.edu.