Michael Aceto

East Carolina University


The Triangulation of Language Contact in the Anglophone Atlantic Region:
West Africa, the West Indies, and North America

This paper will examine linguistic and cultural links among the historical southern North American colonies/states, the Anglophone Caribbean, and West(ern) Africa. I will present and evaluate several competing theories about the directionality of influence among the following triangular points: 1) the general area of Charleston, South Carolina, and the Sea Coast Islands; 2) the West Indies, especially Barbados; and 3) West Africa, particularly the Guinea Coast. Some scholars suggest that the English-derived Creole languages of the Caribbean influenced the emergence of Gullah on the Sea Coast Islands of South Carolina and Georgia; others suggest Caribbean creoles influenced the emergence of Krio, a language of Sierra Leone spoken on the historic Upper Guinea Coast of West Africa. Some suggest Gullah influenced Krio; and yet others propose that the English-derived creoles of the Americas were significantly influenced by an early form of restructured English spoken somewhere on the Upper Guinea Coast/modern Sierra Leone (Hancock 1986, 1987) or the Lower Guinea Coast/modern Ghana (McWhorter 1997, Aceto 1999). Cassidy (1980, 1994) focused on the connections between Barbadian English and Gullah for understanding the possible historical relationships between an early form of Bajan (assumed to have had more creole-like features than are typically heard on the island today) and Gullah-speaking areas. Hancock (1980, 1986) suggests that Gullah (among other English-derived creoles of the Americas) was influenced by the formation of an early variety of Krio. Recently, Huber (fc.) has suggested that Gullah influenced the formation of Krio in Sierra Leone.

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    Representative Dialects." In G. G. Gilbert, ed., Pidgin and Creole Languages (pp. 264-334). Honolulu: University of Hawaii.
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McWhorter, John. 1997. "It happened at Cormantin: Locating the origin of the Atlantic English-based creoles." Journal of Pidgin and
    Creole Languages 12: 1-44.