International Encyclopaedia
of the Histories of Anthropology

Turner, Lorenzo Dow (1890-1972)

Coordinated by Alcione M. Amos

Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Lorenzo Dow Turner (1890-1972) was the first African American linguist whose research started in the early 1930s when he interviewed Gullah speakers. His interest in Gullah, the language spoken by African Americans living in the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia, led him to many years of research and his book, Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect (1949). His extensive fieldwork continued in the 1940s in Brazil, when he worked with the people of the Candomblé houses of worship (terreiros), primarily in Bahia, and in Africa in the 1950s when he researched mostly in Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Turner’s work had an impact well beyond the field of linguistics, and became important in African American history, Afro-Brazilian cultural history, transatlantic history, the area of Creole Studies, and anthropology.

Keywords: Linguistics | Cultural anthropology | Linguist/Philologist | Nigeria | Sierra Leone | Brazil | United States of America | African-American studies | Cultural history

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