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African Languages and American English

Borrowed words and elements from African languages are commonplace in American English used in the United States. Some sources date from the Atlantic slave trade, while others stem from multilingualism in Africa.

Commonplace African-Derived English Words

Banana, banjo, bogus, chimpanzee, cola, gumbo, mumbo jumbo, tote, yam—these are just a few commonplace African-derived English words. Enslaved children, women, and men first spoke them in the Americas. Today, their voices echo throughout the community of American English speakers. They came from Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Senegal, and The Gambia. They spoke Akan, Efik, Fula, Ga, Hausa, Ibibio, Igbo, Kikongo, Kimbundu, Mandingo, Mbundu, Swahili, Temna, Tshiluba, Twi, Wolof, and Yoruba. These languages span the continent from the Atlantic ...

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