What Mr. Simmons said: Stylization, pitch, and the voicing of others on the Gullah Geechee cultural heritage tour


  • John K. McCullough University of South Carolina




sociolinguistics, sociophonetics, Gullah Geechee, prosody, falsetto, stylization


This article discusses the use of stylized voicing, specifically falsetto phonation, in Gullah Geechee during a cultural heritage tour in Charleston, South Carolina. Gullah Geechee, a minority creole language spoken by descendants of formerly enslaved persons in the American Southeastern coastal Lowcountry, is analyzed in the study using participant observation and sociophonetic data collection. The research finds that the stylized pitch-shifting is a productive component of the guide’s ethnolinguistic repertoire, used for multiple indexical functions, including constructing authenticity and performing stylized double-voicing. The data shows the complex social meaning of this feature related to speech genres, performance, perceptions of authenticity and authority, and the ethnolinguistic repertoire of a minority language commodified for outsider consumption. The study also links Gullah Geechee prosodic indexicality with its related variety, African American English.

Author Biography

  • John K. McCullough, University of South Carolina
    PhD candidate, Linguistics Program, University of South Carolina




How to Cite

McCullough, John K. 2023. “What Mr. Simmons Said: Stylization, Pitch, and the Voicing of Others on the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Tour”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 8 (1): 5544. https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v8i1.5544.