Afro-Seminole Creole

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Afro-Seminole Creole

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-10-24, 14:50

Afro-Seminole Creole is a variety of Gullah, maintaining a lot of archaic features that have been lost from Gullah by now due to language shift towards American English. The advisor for my master's thesis, Prof. Ian Hancock, did a lot of important research on this language, and I have some notes about it from a seminar he taught while I was taking it in grad school.

In current usage, "Seminole" refers to a Native American group originally from Florida, now mostly living in Oklahoma due to the government of the US forcing them (and Native Americans in general) to leave their homelands for Oklahoma. The members of this group traditionally speak (or spoke) one or more languages from the Muskogean family, particularly Creek and Mikasuki. In the late 18th century, many black Americans (including both escaped slaves and freed slaves) lived with and married some members of this group; these Americans are known as Black Seminoles, have their own culture, and are the speakers of Afro-Seminole Creole. They live mainly in Texas, Oklahoma, Mexico, and the Bahamas and also speak English and/or Spanish; Wikipedia also lists Florida, but my advisor says they no longer live in Florida due to the forced migrations. My advisor said that Seminole originally referred to the Black Seminoles and comes from a Creek word (he said [simalones] but that this went through some more sound changes before it ended up in English as Seminole), which in turn comes from the Spanish term cimarrones (plural of cimarrón 'runaway, wild one'; Wikipedia considers this step of the etymology more speculative).

In the variety of Afro-Seminole Creole spoken in Texas, at least from what I understand, the ergative 1SG and 3SG pronouns (used as subjects only with transitive verbs, i.e. verbs that take direct objects) are [a] and [ i ] respectively. Apart from that, the pronouns are as follows: [mi], [yu], [əm], [wi], [hənə], and [dɛm].

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