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Turner, Lorenzo Dow



Lorenzo Dow Turner was born in Elizabeth City, N.C. in 1895. He earned his B.A. in 1914 from Howard University; in 1917, he received an M.A. in English from Harvard University. He received his doctorate in English from the University of Chicago in 1926 while simultaneously serving as chairman and professor of the Department of English at Howard from 1917 to 1928. He held the same positions at Fisk University in Nashville from 1929 to 1946. In 1946 he accepted a professorship in the English department at Roosevelt University in Chicago, where he remained as professor of English and lecturer in African Cultures until his retirement in 1970. Turner was professor emeritus at Roosevelt until his death at age 77 in 1972.

Turner's professional and academic interests encompassed both English and linguistics. A noted scholar of African languages and linguistics, he learned numerous West African languages, mastering five of them. He was a noted authority on Gullah, a South Carolina islander's language. His most significant research went into his Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect (University of Chicago Press, 1949). For this he traced thousands of words found in Gullah and in other dialects of the Southeast to their African origins. His field work for this study took him to the Sea Islands off the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia (1932-33), to Brazil (1940-41), London (1936-37), Paris (1937), and British and French West Africa (1951).

Turner's professional publications include:Anti-slavery sentiment in American language prior to 1865 (1929); Africanisms in the Gullah dialect (1949); The Krio language of the Sierra Leone (1963)

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Lorenzo Dow Turner Papers

Identifier: 023
Abstract Lorenzo Dow Turner served as Professor of English and lecturer in African Cultures at Roosevelt University College in Chicago. The Papers document Turner's extensive educational training, his long teaching career first at Fisk University and then at Roosevelt University, his exhaustive linguistic research, and the revolutionary theories on black speech development in America that he pioneered. Of special interest are cassette tapes including copies of the original sound recordings made by...
Dates: 1915-1973