Definitions starting with A

ID #1020

African Words

It is now clear that a great deal more African culture survived in the New World than had been believed until very recently. Along with their customs, the Bahamians' African ancestors brought words for their customs, such as ASUE for a system of saving money, or WORRY for a certain game, or GOOMBAY for a kind of drum. Some of these words became a part of general English, such as banjo (BANJA), YAM (NYAM) or OKRA . Others remained part of the regional English of the Bahamas, usually not understood by people from other places. African loan words in this second category include the names of various foods such as ACARA, AGIDI, FUFU, and MOI-MOI. Others are everyday words such as JOOK, BENNY or YINNA, or exclamations like BLOO-JOOM! Some folktale characters retained their African names, such as BOOKY , IANANSI, BAMAKANSA, U-SANGE-WILEY, and the monster YEHO. Some African personal names have been preserved, such as CUFFEY, CUSHIE and QUAKOO. Until the end of the last century, Bahamians still referred to ethnic groups in Africa such as the MUNDINGO, ANGOLA, IBO, EGBA, and YORUBA, and even today many Bahamians know the terms CONGO and NANGO. Many other African words survive in disguise, such as POOR JOE, CUSS-CUSS and SHAKERS; these seem to be English words, but are actually African words which have been altered by folk etymology. Other African words or phrases have been translated word for word into English, such as SEED meaning 'tight curl of hair' or the expression GIVE ME FIVE. Finally, the range of meaning of some African words has affected the range of meaning of their English equivalents in the Bahamas, such as RED and YALLER used in reference to colors that British and American speakers would call orange, pink, brown, or tan.

Tags: Encyclopedia definition, folk etymology

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Last update: 2011-10-23 03:45
Author: Holm and Shilling, DBE, 1982
Revision: 1.12

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