Fascinating story about an early linguist and the search for an African song he recorded in the 1930s.
Dr Lorenzo Turner, working as a professor and a linguist in the 1930s, graduated from Howard, Harvard and the University of Chicago. Although he didn't actually study linguistics for his courses, he studied the discipline in various places including London. Dr Turner was the one man who recognized that the Gullah people of South Carolina and Georgia were actually not "stupid, child-like imbeciles" but were in fact speaking a language that included over 3,000 words from somewhere in Africa. But which country out of all that provided slaves for the New World was the ancestral home of this rice-growing, island dwelling people? "The Language You Cry In" documents Dr Turner's struggle to identify the origin of this people's speech. He made meticulous notes and kept valuable data which, while it didn't yield up the answer to the mystery during Turner's lifetime, gave the researchers who came along afterward enough clues to be able to find the exact place outside of Sierra Leone where the slaves whose descendants were the Gullah came from.
This discovery is very dramatic, and the documentary shows the research struggle in a vivid manner. The film travels from the Sea Islands to Sierra Leone and back. Even more compelling is footage of the woman who sings an African song for the present day linguist who has found it amongst Dr Turner's notes. I don't want to spoil the story for you, but believe me there is a moment of incredible poignancy and triumph when the ethno-musicologist and the linguist finally come to an end of their African field work.
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