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Barracoon and the Language of Kossula

December 16 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm CST

“Derefo’ we makee de Affica where dey fetch us.” – Kossula, in Hurston’s Barracoon (68). 

In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston spent several months interviewing Oluale Kosssula, aka Cudjo Lewis, in Africatown, Alabama. She collected her notes into a manuscript, but when she sent it to a publisher, they wanted her to rewrite it “in language rather than dialect” (Hurston 2018:xxiv). Hurston refused, and it was not until eight decades later, in 2018, that Barracoon was finally published, with Hurston’s portrayal of Kossula’s speech intact.

In this talk, Leah Nodar, PhD Candidate in Linguistics at Purdue University, looks at Zora Neale Hurston’s orthographic choices in Barracoon and compares them to how she portrayed speakers of Black English from Florida and Louisiana in Mules and Men. The differences between the two books indicate unique pronunciations and grammar in Kossula’s English and show how he carried both his African origins and his American life in the way he spoke.

 For more information, please email Ms. Theris-Boone at, or call (251) 494-2172.


2023-12-16 13:00:00
01:00 pm - 02:00 pm CST
Event Category:
MAIN Meeting Room Fr-Sa
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Ben May Main Library
701 Government Street
Mobile, AL 36602 United States
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(251) 340-1535
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700 Government Street Mobile, Alabama 36602

(251) 340-1535

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