No matter how many things you want to do, you can only do one thing at a time. -Gullah proverb
This week’s #WeeklyTongue is Gullah/Geechee, in light of US Independence day on the 4th. Gullah is also called “Sea Island Creole” by academics. It’s an English-based creole similar to Jamaican Patois, Trinidadian and other English-based Carribean Creoles. Gullah speakers are found on the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia. The Gullah are descendants of West African slaves. The Gullah and their language are referred to as Gullah in South Carolina whereas they’re called Geechee in Georgia. The Bible has been translated to Gullah too, yet they have little online presence.
Check out this beautiful video of Caroline speaking Gullah and English from our channel.
The Gullah are well known for their sweetgrass baskets and their storytelling. One of the stories explains why a cat doesn’t wash his face before breakfast and it goes something along the lines of this…
“Why Bro Cat na da wash e face of e eat e brekwas”
Bro rat fell into Bro Cat’s breakfast and Bro Cat wanted to eat him. Bro Rat saved himself by saying “Maan a nina way roun de edge ob de barrel fa lok ten an a skip an a faal een. Eef you hep me fa git outa ya, I let you eat me fa brekwas” = “Man, I was curious about what was inside the barrel and slipped and fell in. If you help me out, I’ll let you eat me”.
Once Bro Rat was out of the barrel, Bro Cat wanted to eat him but he said that Bro Cat would choke on his wet hairs, so he should sit in the sun to dry. In the mean time, Bro Cat should wash his face. While Bro Cat was washing his face, naturally Bro Rat ran away. This is why cat’s don’t wash their face before breakfast anymore. [Source: Gullah Culture in America]
The origin of the word Gullah is vague, but most historians agree that the Gullah language has African roots.
Here is an impressive collection of Gullah words. http://gullahtours.com/gullah/gullah-words This page has extra links that are worth looking at too! http://studysc.org/elementary/gullah-culture
Let’s celebrate the beauty of Gullah for this week’s #WeeklyTongue!