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A DICTIONARY OF AFRICANISMS—SOME NOTES Gerard M. Dalgish The Dictionary of Africanisms is a lexical index of terms from African languages that have entered the vocabulary of the English-speaking world. It also includes Africanisms that are not yet so widespread as to be recorded in standard dictionaries of English, but are nevertheless well-known or reasonably common among English speakers in Africa, or fairly familiar to Africanists, and thus may someday come to be part of the general vocabulary. Moreover, the dictionary is an attempt to present a representative view of the African continent through its contributions to the English language. Such contributions in the form of lexical entries come from all aspects of life: social, religious, economic, cultural and political organizations, concepts and titles; zoological, botanical, agricultural, geographical and geological terms; clothing, food, drinks, and crafts; Afroamerican terms relating to the emerging interest in black cultural identity; and others. The emphasis of the Dictionary ofAfricanisms is on the influence of African languages of the sub-Saharan area (the areas commonly referred to as West, Central, East, and Southern Africa) on the English language. Lexical items from each of the four major language families of Africa are included: NigerCongo (West African and the numerous Bantu languages); Nilo-Saharan (notably Nilotic languages of Central Africa); Afro-Asiatic (Ethiopie and Chadic languages ); and Khoisan ("Hottentot," "Bushman," etc.). The dictionary intends to cover lexical items in English that have originated in any of these languages. In addition to these Africanisms, the Dictionary of Africanisms includes lexical items that are of ultimate African origin but have come into English via non-African languages. Conversely, the Dictionary of Africanisms also includes items that originated in non-African languages but passed into English via African languages. Thus, the Dictionary of Africanisms covers those items in English that have originated in or passed through an African language. Many of the approximately 3,000 entries are accompanied by illustrative quotations from a variety of English sources, including novels (by black, white, African, and non-African authors), text and reference books, political tracts, travel books, local African newspapers and magazines, as well as mainstream publications such as the New York Times, London Times, Scientific American, Time, and others, drawing on the extensive files of C. L. Barnhart, Inc. Such quotations indicate the degree to which a lexical item has penetrated mainstream English, but they also breathe life into our understanding of the term, while furnishing additional details not supplied in the definition. The Dictionary ofAfricanisms provides pronunciations for new or unfamiliar entries; common or familiar words like banjo and chimpanzee are not pronounced . The pronunciations are rendered in a broad transcription based on the IPA system. The etymologies in the Dictionary of Africanisms include a description of the prefixes (where applicable), roots, suffixes, and other parts of speech related to the entry. In addition, comparative and historical data in the form of cognate forms from related languages are given whenever possible. 100 Gerard M. Dalgish101 Many of the entries can be grouped into non-rigorous, but nonetheless interesting semantic categories. An appendix to the book will list such items, with the area(s) in Africa where each term is used, so that the reader may compare cross-African terms for related items. For the purposes of this article, several such semantic categories are given below, with a few truncated sample entries. Terms of Personal Address and Reference baba /'baba/, ? term of (respectful) address for an elder male; father. Crowds of young Africans filled the streets to cheer Mr. Kenyatta, 72 years old, as "Baba Was Taifa" — "The Father of the Nation." New York Times, 5/28/63, ? 2 'Women could not do work like that, mam . . . ' 'Women are no good at all, are they, baba?' Joyce Cary, An American Visitor, 1963, ? 9 [ ut I know. I the old one, I the wise one, I the Isanusi!" R. Haggard, King Solomon's Mines, 1885, ? 110 J- [ < Nguni is(i) - singular noun pfx + -anuse, -anusi ~ (uku)nuka smell ~ Swahili nuka give off a smell, nusa smell out] pembe /'pembei/, ? white clay for coating the body in dances and rituals associated with death or sorrow (in central and western Africa). This dance was part of an obedience ritual . . . [The dancers] wore feather head-dresses or raffia caps and their bodies were covered with white clay, or pembé. J. Paudrat in M. Huet, Dance, Art and Ritual ofAfrica, 1978, ? 193 [ < Lingala or ? < another Bantu language of central Africa] sasabonsam /,sasa'bounsam/, ? a mythical, evil forest-dwelling monster of the Ashanti, a tall creature with long legs and feet which point both ways. He spoke about . . . Sasabonsam, who lives in the forest and eats children; when he runs out of other people's children he is driven to eat his own. Times (London), 8/10/77, ? 14 [ < Akan sasabonsam ? < säsä to haunt + obonsám devil] Warfare; Weaponry; Crime askari /a'skari:/, ? policeman, soldier, guard or watchman (in East Africa). The askari . . . from our field station helped me with my load while lighting the way with his flashlight. National Geographic, 4/78, ? 546 [ < Swahili < Arabic askari] impi /'impi:/, ? Zulu regiment; any armed band. Suddenly I noticed the girl I had rescued advancing toward me with an impi of six armed men. Atlantic, 11/63, ? 99 104A Dictionary of Africanisms [ < Nguni, regiment, military — Luyia tsimbia army] kiboko /ki'boukou/, ? heavy, strong whip made of hippopotamus hide. The report includes accounts of . . . Naguru Prison in Kampala, run by President Amin's Public Safety Unit. Flogging with the kiboko, once used by slavers, was standard. Manchester Guardian, 5/29/77, ? 3 [ < Swahili, hippopotamus < ki- singular noun pfx + -boko (root for) hippopotamus ] koboko /kou'boukou/, ? a heavy, strong whip used in Nigeria. A large number of the springy whips known in Nigeria as Koboko have been ordered and soldiers will be assigned to administer beatings, some reports said. New York Times, 9/26/77, ? 2 [? < KIBOKO] kondo /'kandou/, ? gang of armed thugs in Uganda and East Africa; one of such thugs. Kondos shot through the glass from his veranda and hit him in both legs. Then he was shot in the arm and then through the stomach. New York Times (Mag. Sec), 11/16/80, ? 79 [ < Swahili, war, strife, difficulty] — kondoism, ? panga /'paerjga/, ? a large, machete-like knife used for heavy work (in East Africa). "Are they, so to speak, carrying any — how shall I say? — persuasive instruments ?" I asked. . . . "Yes siree," declared the young man. "Pangas, and sharp ones." New Yorker, 8/14/54, ? 23 — v. to cut with a panga. As soon as Kenya got Uhuru, we would all be pangaed! Punch, 3/30/66, ? 465 [ < Swahili] shifta /'Jifta/, ? outlaw, bandit, or insurgent (in eastern Africa). East African poaching is carried out by Somali shifta (raiders) . . . Adrian Phillips likened the ruthless shifta to "highly organized and militaristic bands of pirates." Science News, 11/17/79, ? 348 [ ? < Somali, said to mean wanderer; ? < Amharic sift — saffma he rebelled] tsotis /'tsoutsi:/, ? a black hoodlum or street thug in urban South Africa, often . . . flashily dressed. They are terrorized every day by the tsotsis, the young thugs who stab in the back, rob, and leave the dead jammed upright. Maclean's, 9/20/76, ? 35 [ < Nguni ukutsotsa (past tense, -tsotsile) to dress in exaggerated clothing; thought to be ultimately < English zoot suit] Gerard M. Dalgish105 Drugs, Medicines; Diseases ibogaine /'i:bou,gein/, ? a colorless, crystalline compound producing hallucinatory effects, derived from iboga. There was no doubt about it: the Man from Maine had turned to massive doses of Ibogaine as a last resort . . .He had developed a tendency to roll his eyes wildly during TV interviews ... his thought patterns had become strangely fragmented ... H. Thompson, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72, 1972, ? 152 [ < iboga ( < Mpongwe, species of bush) + -ine chemical sfx] muti /'mu:ti:/, ? medicine; spells; herb(s) used in healing (in souther Africa). "Muti" for money — the money "presumably Kruger sovereigns" was the motive for murder. Times of Swaziland, 6/22/73, ? 1 [ < Nguni mu- singular noun pfx + ti (root for) tree, bush ~ Swahili mti tree, bush] olduvai /'oulda.vai/, ? a succulent plant, the bayonet aloe (Sansevieria) notable for its healing medicinal properties. Nomadic peoples in the Rift use Olduvai, as have two generations of Leakeys following accidents during field excursions. It is certainly preferable to anything the twentieth-century pharmaceuticals can offer. R. Leakey & R. Lewin, People ofthe Lake, 1978, ? 55 [ < Maasai ol- singular noun pfx + duvai (root for) this plant] o'nyong-nyong /ou'nyonnyorj/, ? a virus-caused disease similar to dengue. The symptoms of infection by the o'nyong-nyong virus [are] feverish paroxysms , pains in the bones and muscles and swollen joints. New Scientist, 12/14/61, ? 670 [ < an East African language, ? < a Nilotic language; but cf. Swahili (ki)nyong'onyo (anything causing) tiredness, weakness, fatigue] Additional categories are given below, with a few examples of entries listed in parentheses. An appendix in the Dictionary of Africanisms will contain these categories and entries so that the reader may readily discover related terms. Secret Societies; Societal Systems; "Cults" (Bwiti, Gelede, Ifa, Maji-Maji, MauMau ); Former Kingdoms (Azania, Dahomey, Ghana, Zimbabwe); Games (bao, dolos, oware); Archaeology (Gumban, Magostan, Sangoan); Festivals (lncwala, Kwanza, Madaraka Day); Foods (aboloo, akara, fufu, gar(r)i, injera, matoke, moamba , pili-pili, ugali, uputhu); Drinks (akpeteshie, chibuku, gavine, konyagi, pombe, tej); Music and Dance (balafon, gom-gom, griot, patha-patha, sanza, Watusi ); Chiefs and Titles (Asantehene, Fon, jumbe, Mwalimu, Mzee, Ndlovukazi, Oni, Ras); Money and Commerce (butut, cedi, chai, dash, magendo, mali, naira, zaire, and abbreviations or symbols of currencies, as B for birr, C, C for cedi, etc.; Languages and Pidgins (Chilapalapa, Fanagalo, Ge'ez, Kisetla); the numerous Zoological , Botanical and Geographical terms (chimpanzee, chitemene, fonio, gesho, magadi, nyika, tsama, zingand). ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 100-105
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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