Tree bahk or 3.0 Bark: Linguistic identity and the sociophonetic variation of rhotics in Gullah Geechee

John McCullough


The current study examines the speech of a Gullah Geechee personality who exhibits conscious shifts between sociolinguistic “styles” when speaking for an outsider audience. Her conscious use of this style shifting indexes specific identities, some for extracommunity consumption and some for demarcation of Gullah Geechee community membership. This ability to shift between lectal levels indicates a high degree of metadiscursive awareness, which is often not shared by the overt prestige status quo. This co-occurrence of style-shifting alongside both a creole continuum and cline of postvocalic r-lessness shows that singular features can co-index larger patterns of sociophonetic and discursive identity formation.


sociolinguistics; sociophonetics; style-shifting; creole languages; Gullah Geechee

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