What language did slaves speak?
In the English colonies Africans spoke an English-based Atlantic Creole, generally called plantation creole. Low Country Africans spoke an English-based creole that came to be called Gullah.
Singing as a form of communication is deeply rooted in the African American culture. It began with the African slaves who were kidnapped and shipped across the Atlantic during the Middle Passage. Slaves from different countries, tribes and cultures used singing as a way to communicate during the voyage.
The language of African Americans has been given many labels over the past fifty years, including Black English, Ebonics, African American English (AAE), African American Vernacular English (AAVE), and, most recently, African American Language (AAL).
Slaves were challenged not only to learn the languages of their slave owners but to also create a form of speech uniquely their own. Thus, early in their North American experience, newly arrived slaves began to lay the foundation of a linguistic combination that would eventually be classified as black English.
Because of that, slaves were forced to speak English exclusively. The African words slaves did preserve were ones that could pass as English — words that could "mask their ancestry," as Rickford puts it. But because those words sound like English, they can be difficult to identify as coming from African languages.
Slaves were generally allowed a day off on Sunday, and on infrequent holidays such as Christmas or the Fourth of July. During their few hours of free time, most slaves performed their own personal work.
During their limited leisure hours, particularly on Sundays and holidays, slaves engaged in singing and dancing. Though slaves used a variety of musical instruments, they also engaged in the practice of "patting juba" or the clapping of hands in a highly complex and rhythmic fashion. A couple dancing.
They rank among the oldest living languages in terms of traceable records. Experts have estimated that Proto-Afroasiatic emerged in Africa between 12,000 and 16,000 years ago. My research focused on the almost 200 Chadic languages spoken west, south and east of Lake Chad in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.
African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is the variety formerly known as Black English Vernacular or Vernacular Black English among sociolinguists, and commonly called Ebonics outside the academic community.
A creole language, or simply creole, is a stable natural language that develops from the simplifying and mixing of different languages into a new one within a fairly brief period of time: often, a pidgin evolved into a full-fledged language.
What can I say instead of slaves?
- bond servant.
- indentured servant.
Today. Gullah is spoken by about 5,000 people in coastal South Carolina and Georgia.
The House Joint Resolution proposing the 13th amendment to the Constitution, January 31, 1865; Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789-1999; General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11; National Archives.
Anti-literacy laws made it illegal for enslaved and free people of color to read or write. Southern slave states enacted anti-literacy laws between 1740 and 1834, prohibiting anyone from teaching enslaved and free people of color to read or write.
Many slaves did learn to read through Christian instruction, but only those whose owners allowed them to attend. Some slave owners would only encourage literacy for slaves because they needed someone to run errands for them and other small reasons.
The majority of all people enslaved in the New World came from West Central Africa.
Sixteen to eighteen hours of work was the norm on most West Indian plantations, and during the season of sugarcane harvest, most slaves only got four hours of sleep.
Between the ages of seven and twelve, boys and girls were put to work in intensive field work. Older or physically handicapped slaves were put to work in cloth houses, spinning cotton, weaving cloth, and making clothes.
in which slaves obtained alcohol outside of the special occasions on which their masters allowed them to drink it. Some female house slaves were assigned to brew cider, beer, and/or brandy on their plantations.
Weekly food rations -- usually corn meal, lard, some meat, molasses, peas, greens, and flour -- were distributed every Saturday. Vegetable patches or gardens, if permitted by the owner, supplied fresh produce to add to the rations. Morning meals were prepared and consumed at daybreak in the slaves' cabins.
Did slaves have breaks?
According to George Washington, enslaved people at Mount Vernon had two hours off for meals during the day. The dinner break took place in the early afternoon. While enslaved workers at Mount Vernon labored throughout the year, there were regular days off as well as a few holidays.
Beginning in the 16th century, European merchants initiated the transatlantic slave trade, purchasing enslaved Africans from West African kingdoms and transporting them to Europe's colonies in the Americas.
Singing and dancing gave them a religious freedom. African American slaves used the simplest musical gadgets they used their voices, in addition to the clapping in their hands and stopping on the floor. The slaves used “each a part of their bodies once they danced," from their palms to their feet.
For Africans who wanted to escape slavery, songs had another important purpose as well. They could be used to communicate. Their songs, which are sometimes called spirituals, were passed from one group to another — and along with the songs came the code.
Singing was a traditional among most all African Americans. During the time of the Underground Railroad it was illegal to teach slaves to read and write, so for most slaves, singing was their main form of communication. Their songs were used to express what they believed in and cared about when they celebrated.