March 20, 2010
The Dialect. First, what about the accent you hear there? That regal way of speech? You're in South Carolina, of course--but the speech you hear is barely "Southern". Most likely, experts say, it's a blend: of Gullah spoken by African Americans, and of English spoken by Europeans, over 300 years ago. Linguists love it, and you still hear it in the streets, especially "South of Broad".
The Dance. It was popularized by a song and its accompanying footwork, "The Charleston," by James P. Johnson in the Broadway musical "Runnin' Wild" in 1923. Like the unique Charleston dialect, the Dance goes way back, too. It's been traced to descendants of slaves who lived on islands off the coast of Charleston and in the city itself. Thought to have been first performed locally around 1903.
Posted by JD Hull at March 20, 2010 03:59 AM