The popular creole language that is mostly preferred by the African-American natives in the coastal regions of the American states of South Carolina, Georgia and northeast Florida has finally gained the academic recognition that it deserves. The Sea Island Creole English and Geechee was a basic survival tool for the slaves before the civil war that enabled them to communicate in their daily routine. It is similar to other English-based creole languages spoken in West Africa and the Caribbean Basin.
Gullah is more of an oral language than a written language. The language is solely based on a speaker’s abstract thought and hence does not forge the basic rules of English grammar into it. Thus, this language has been solely passed on orally across generations. Due to this unique feature, Harvard University has recognized it as a crucial part of history. It is the first of its kind in the Ivy League school and has been inducted as part of the African Language Program within the Department of African and African American Studies. The inclusion of this program, along with 44 other language programs, gives the students a chance to accurately portray different communities. This further enables the students in carrying out developmental work in the Gullah community.
The program is being promoted under the supervision of a Charleston native and performance artist, Sunn m’Cheaux. He is also fluent in Geechee, a derivative of Gullah, and as an activist, constantly strives to preserve the Gullah and Geechee culture. His teaching methods are inspired by the fact that he is also an artist who has to constantly shuttle between Charleston, Los Angeles, and New York. His primary intentions at the Ivy league school is to explain students the use of literal and figurative language and also explains the approach that is required to understand the Gullah language. The curriculum mainly developed by M’Cheux himself also includes video chats between students and native speakers.
On the same note, Gullah has also been recognized in various Charleston County School District where teachers are being trained in Gullah and Geechee languages.