Thursday, January 29, 2009

Camp Song, Ecuador, and Sexy Koopa Shells

Found in an effort to determine how to spell the name of the song “Kumbaya,” though not in reference to the song itself so much as an adjective referring to all things hokey and falsely spiritual: the city of CumbayĆ”, Ecuador, which has no doubt suffered more than its share of American tourists bursting out into renditions of this campfire standard.

Additionally of note: The title of “Kumbaya” comes by way of Gullah, specifically for “come by here.” Gullah is sometimes also credited as giving English goober, as in the synonym for peanut, though the American Heritage Dictionary traces it further back to Bantu and likens it to the Kongo or Kimbundu word n-guba.

Something even better: Another word that comes to English from African languages, American Heritage Dictionary claims, is cooter, which I find hilarious. Only it’s not the use of the word I’m accustomed to but instead something that means “turtle” in certain regions of the southern United States. It goes on to say that cooter is related to the Mandingo word kuta, which also means “turtle.” Now I’m wondering if the cooter turtle could have some connection with the other “seaward” interpretation.

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