By Luana M. Graves Sellars

You’re Welcomed by Sonja Griffin Evans

To speak a language is to take on a world, a culture.”

Martinique-born Philosopher Frantz Fanon.

Gullah Geechee is a rich culture with its own language. The language has been around for hundreds of years and continues to be spoken today. As a result of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Gullah people have cultural language and connections to several areas of the Caribbean, including the Bahamas and Jamaica.

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The Gullah New Testament

If you heard someone speaking Jamaican Patois, which is also a Creole based language the tonality and dialect, could be hard to decipher. The language is a combination of a variety of African words from various countries as well as English. As an English Creole based language with West African influences, the sound is similar, yet unique to the culture. The words were blended between English and African languages and in some cases shortened. Considered an ingenious form of communication, during slavery, plantation owners considered the language as ignorant and broken English, when in fact, it was deliberately made to be a way that the Gullah could communicate amongst themselves and in some cases pass coded information without being understood by their masters.

The following videos give you the opportunity to actually hear what the language sounds like. The first one has a side by side interpretation of the language so that you can hear what it sounds like as well as see the difference in how words are spelled. The second link will teach you how a Gullah conversation sounds like.

Gullah Language Video and a Gullah Greeting.

Click here to listen to some common Gullah sayings and phrases

There are a lot of common English words with Gullah origins : Gumbo, Tote, Jukebox, Kumbaya, Yam, Jitters, Phony, Guber, Tater, Nana

Here’s a few Gullah words and phrases:

How are youWha goin on

He, she, his, hers or it – E


Look hereLook Ya

Hot Hawt

Someone who lives in an area or been hereBeenya

Someone who is new to an area or not from around hereComeya

Gender-neutral way of describing someone that you don’t remember – Dem Boi

Come here – Kumbayah

Be quiet – Tie yuh mout : as in tie your mouth

Where is he ? – Wah side e is : as in What side is he?

Child/Children – Chillun

Woman – Ooman

Sister – Tittuh

White man – Buckrah

Talk – Krak teet

Dawn – Day Clean

Going – Gwine

Eat – Nyam / Nam

Vegetable – Wegitubble

Those – Dem

Stupid – Chupid

Ask him – Ax’um

Fish – Fush

Bird – Bidi

Small Bird – Bidibidi

For more Gullah words, click here.

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