7 Words You Didn’t Know That Came From Ebonics


Many people think of Ebonics as “black slang,” while linguists refer to the dialect as “AAVE,” or African-American Vernacular English. According to author Clara Schwarz, 80-90 percent of African-Americans today can speak fluent Ebonics.

Did you know that Ebonics comes from a mixture of Creole, Western Guyanese dialects and even Irish vernacular?

Contrary to popular belief, Ebonics does span across racial borders in contemporary American culture. Much of the White-American population in the rural, southern United States, speaks in specific dialects that are extremely similar to Ebonics.

1. Be: In Ebonics, linking verbs are replaced with “be.” This tendency formed when slaves began to learn English, and still folllowed grammatical rules of Niger-Congo languages.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUFsQ5lTo6g&w=584&h=390]

2. Boo Boo: Means “a stupid way of acting” in Bantu.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OBlgSz8sSM&w=584&h=390]

3. Cool: “Calm or controlled,” stems from Mandingo suma word ‘slow.’

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGwZ7MNtBFU&w=584&h=390]

4. Hip: Derived from the Wolofi word “hipi,” meaning to be aware. ex: adj. hip, or n. hippy, hippies, hip-hop music.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6y_4_b6RS8&w=584&h=390]

5. Swagger: Comes from the Mende word “suwangc,” meaning to be proud of.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZWoEdNGvk4&w=584&h=390]

6. Jitterbug: In Mandinko, a “jito-bag” is someone who enjoys dancing often.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIgZ7gMze7A&w=584&h=390]

7. Tote: Means “Carry,” and stems from the Kongo and Swahili roots “tota” and “tuta.”

This post orginially appeared at Neon Tommy.