Structure dataset 13: Gullah

This language is described more fully in survey chapter 13.

Gullah, also known as Geechee, is primarily an oral and rural phenomenon. It is largely confined to a corridor along the coast of Southeastern North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Northeastern Florida in the United States. There is a small diaspora elsewhere in Florida and in Texas. Gullah is in a continuum relation with surrounding varieties of American English. It is not part of any official census and functions primarily in a close-knit community so that it is difficult to come up with precise speaker numbers. There are quite certainly no more than 10,000 monolinguals, but perhaps as many as a couple hundred thousand persons with some competency in the language in addition to varieties of English. The basilectal end of the spectrum is the default lect documented in APiCS. Linguistic material for the default lect description is taken mainly from Turner (1949) but also from Cunningham (1992) and the 2005 New Testament translation (De Nyew Testament). Data from the works of Hopkins (1994), Mufwene (2004), and Weldon (2003) were used as well, supplemented by examples from the author’s field research.


I am grateful to the APiCS editors for critical peer commentary and to the Faculty Development Committee at Georgia Southern University for financial support to participate in the First APiCS Conference (5-8 November 2009).

Glossed text (66.8KB, application/pdf)
No. Feature Value Details Source
No. Feature Value Details Source


Pulmonic Consonants
Place → Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
↓ Manner Bilabial Labio­dental Linguo­labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Retroflex Alveolo-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal
/ Epiglottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p   b mb t   d ɖ c ɟ k   g
Sibilant affricate t͡ʃ d͡ʒ
Non-sibilant affricate
Sibilant fricative s z ʃ
Non-sibilant fricative ɸ β f v h
Approximant ɹ l j
Flap or tap ɾ
Lateral affricate
Lateral fricative
Lateral approximant
Lateral flap


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back Close Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open ihigh front unrounded vowel nasalized high front unrounded vowel uhigh back rounded vowel nasalized high back rounded vowel ɪlowered high front unrounded vowel ʊlowered high back rounded vowel ehigher mid front unrounded vowel nasalized higher mid front unrounded vowel ohigher mid back rounded vowel nasalized higher mid back rounded vowel əmid central unrounded vowel ɛlower mid front unrounded vowel ɛ̃nasalized lower mid front unrounded vowel ɔlower mid back rounded vowel ʌlower central unrounded vowel ɔ̃nasalized lower mid back rounded vowel æraised low front unrounded vowel alow central unrounded vowel nasalized low central unrounded vowel ɑlow back unrounded vowel ɒlow back rounded vowel

Special segments

Other segments
 k͡p  voiceless labial-velar plosive
 g͡b  voiced labial-velar plosive


       Exists (as a major allophone)
       Exists only as a minor allophone
       Exists only in loanwords
No. Feature Value Details Source