Coffee as a last name

Paul Johnston paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Tue Dec 4 20:44:07 UTC 2007

Doesn't the source for "Cuffee" have open o in at least some of the
West African source languages?  Also, Turner's transcription in
Gullah has the low back rounded vowel, which stands for /^/ in other
English dialects, but is close enough to mid back rounded vowels to
undergo transfer to that class.  The presence of the noun "coffee"
and the drink's color might have helped.

Paul Johnston
On Dec 4, 2007, at 9:45 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: Coffee as a last name
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---------
> At 12/4/2007 12:39 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>> I've also known black people
>> surnamed "Coffee," which may be derived from "Cuffee," but that's
>> only
>> a WAG.
> I suspect there is evidence for this in the literature on slavery in
> colonial times, perhaps particularly in the immediate Revolutionary
> period, when blacks (at least in the North) thought "freedom for all"
> included them, and adopted the white custom of using two names.
> Joel
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