Welcome to “Learning English”a daily 30 minutes program from the Voice of America.I am Jonathon Evans. And I am Ashley Thompson. This program is aimed at English learners, so we speak a little slower and we use words and phrases especially written for people learning English.
Today on the program you will hear from Bryan Lynn，Phil Dierking and Alice Bryan. Later Steve Ember will present our American history series : The Making of a Nation. But first here is Bryan Lynn.
Many Food Names in English Come From Africa
On a recent program, we told you stories of English words borrowed from other languages. Today, we will tell you about words English has taken from African languages.
Many of these words entered English as a result of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
Joseph E. Holloway is a historian of African-American history. In his paper African Crops and Slave Cuisine, he explains the way many crops from Africa reached North America.
Drawing of a ship carrying enslaved Africans during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
Slave ships carried these crops as food for enslaved Africans during the long voyage. The foods included rice and other grains, okra, yams, different kinds of beans and peanuts.
And, as we will discuss today, some of the food names later became part of the English language.
Let's start with the yam. The yam was the most common food fed to enslaved Africans on ships traveling to the Americas. Yams are long, starchy vegetables with white, reddish or purple flesh.
What many Americans call a yam is actually a sweet potato. American supermarkets are largely responsible for the confusion; they often mark yams as sweet potatoes.
The word yam is of West African origin. Two languages spoken there have similar versions of the word. In Fulani, the word is nyami and it means "to eat." In Twi, the word is anyinam.
Portuguese and Spaniards brought yams to the Americas through Guyana and Brazil. Yams later became common throughout the Caribbean.
In the late 1500s, the Portuguese changed the word to inhame; the Spanish changed it to iñame. Its first usage in English was igname. By the mid-1600s, the English spelling had changed to y-a-m.
And today, in Jamaican Patois – an English-based language with African influences – the word nyam still means "to eat."
Another vegetable with an African name - and origin - is okra. Okra is a tall, green plant whose pods are eaten as a vegetable. It is often used in soups and similar dishes. The original word was okuru, from the Igbo language of Nigeria.
Okra reached the Caribbean and the United States in the 1700s. Not long after, the vegetable was introduced in Europe.
In the American state of Louisiana, okra has been used for centuries to thicken stews and soups. During colonial times, African, European and Native American cultures mixed to form what would become Creole culture. Today, okra is still a key part of Creole cooking, especially its most famous dish: gumbo. Interestingly, the word gumbo once meant simply "okra." The original word was ki ngombo, from Mbundu, a language of Angola.
Our next food name with African origins is goober. The American English word goober once commonly meant peanut. The word was used throughout the American South in the 19th century, with the first known English usage in 1833.
As Holloway's paper explains, "Union soldiers fighting on southern soil during the Civil War found southern peanuts both tasty and filling." They even made a song about it called "Eating Goober Peas."
The original word, nguba, is the same in two Bantu languages: Kikongo and Kimbundu*.
Today, in American English, goober is rarely used to mean peanut. More often, it is used informally to mean "a foolish or simple person."
The word banana is believed to come from Wolof, a West African language of Senegal, Gambia and Mauritania. In Wolof, the word is banaana. Some research also links the word to bana, from the Mande language of Liberia in West Africa.
Many historians say bananas probably first grew in Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea around 6,000 years ago. Recent research shows that Africans began harvesting this fruit at least 4,500 years ago. How the fruit reached Africa from Asia is more of a mystery, although many reports say Arab traders may have brought them there. One Arabic word for finger or toe is banan.
In the late 1500s, Portuguese and Spanish colonists took the fruit with them from Africa to the Americas and brought along its African name. The Portuguese began banana plantations in the Caribbean islands and Brazil.
Then, in 1633, an herbalist in Britain sold the first banana to reach Europe at his store.
Along with food names, English has borrowed other kinds of words from African languages. One example is jumbo.
In English, the word jumbo is an adjective that means "very large for its type."
Today, the word can be found in many places where products are sold: supermarkets, online stores and even restaurants.
In Washington, D.C., for example, Jumbo Slice is the name of a popular late-night pizza place that sells very, very large pieces of pizza.
The word came into popular American usage in an interesting way. Jumbo was the name of an African bull elephant that was a zoo animal and a circus performer.
Historical accounts say Jumbo was captured as a baby elephant in East Africa in 1861. His captors brought him to France and sold him to a botanical garden. He lived there in unhealthy conditions.
Later, the London Zoo purchased Jumbo. He became a main attraction there. In 1882, the zoo sold him to a famous American circus.
Jumbo was reportedly a very calm animal. At his largest, he stood 3.6 meters tall. After his death, his name became a synonym for "huge."
But as early as the 1820s, jumbo was a slang term used to describe a big, clumsy person, animal or thing. Language experts say the word may come from the word nzamba – a word that now means "forest" in Kongo, a language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo and Angola.
Some accounts define the word nzamba as "elephant," though this may be an outdated meaning.
Join us again soon to learn the history of English words borrowed from other languages.
I'm Phil Dierking.
And I'm Alice Bryant.
Alice Bryant wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
山药一词起源于西非。这里说的两种语言有相似的版本。在富拉尼，这个词是nyami，意思是“吃” 。 而在Twi，这个词为anyinam。
十六世纪后期，葡萄牙人把这个词改为“ inhame”；西班牙人则把它改为“iñame”。在英语中，这个词的第一个用法为失望的。到十七世纪中叶，英语拼写已改为“y - a - m”
在美国路易斯安那州，几世纪以来，秋葵一直被人们用来增稠炖菜和汤。在殖民时期，非洲、欧洲和美洲土著文化混合在一起，形成了克里奥尔文化。如今，秋葵仍然是克里奥尔烹饪的一个关键部分，尤其是它最著名的一道菜:秋葵。有趣的是，gumbo这个词曾经只有“秋葵”这个意思。最初这个词是 ki ngombo，它源自姆邦杜，一种安哥拉语言。
原单词nguba在两种班图语言中是相同的：Kikongo 和 Kimbundu。
但是早在十九世纪二十年代，jumbo就是一个俚语，用来形容一个大而笨拙的人、动物或事物。语言专家说，这个词可能来自nzamba这个词 - 在刚果语中意为“森林”。刚果语是刚果民主共和国，刚果共和国和安哥拉地区使用的语言。
Words in This Story
voyage – n. a long journey to a distant or unknown place especially over water or through outer space
flesh – n. the soft part of a fruit that is eaten
origin – n. the point or place where something begins or is created
pod – n. a long, thin part of some plants that has seeds inside
peanut – n. a nut with a thin shell that grows under the ground and that can be eaten
herbalist – n. a person who grows, sells, or uses herbs to treat illness
circus - n. a traveling show that is often performed in a tent and that typically includes trained animals, clowns and acrobats
botanical – adj. of or relating to plants or the study of plants
attraction – n. something interesting or enjoyable that people want to visit, see, or do
synonym – n. a word that has the same meaning as another word in the same language
slang - n. words that are not considered part of the standard vocabulary of a language and are used informally in speech, especially by a particular group of people
*Kikongo is spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo and Angola. Kimbundu is a language of Angola. Both are from the Bantu language group.
American Slaves Resist, Rebel, Escape
From VOA Learning English, welcome to The Making of a Nation, our weekly program of American history for people learning American English. I’m Steve Ember in Washington.
We have been talking about the Compromise of 1850. In September of that year, the United States Congress passed five bills that sought to settle the issue of slavery. All five became law after the president signed them.
Owning another human being was legal in many parts of the U.S. at that time. Most American slaves or their ancestors originally came from Africa. Many slaves worked for white landowners in cotton
or tobacco fields. Some, like Phoebe Boyd of Virginia, worked in the family’s home.
“Had to clean up, and set the table, tote in the eating.”
That recording comes from the Voices from the Days of Slavery Project at the U.S. Library of Congress. Ms. Boyd was speaking in 1935, remembering her childhood as a slave. She said she had to clean up, set the table, carry the food, and, afterwards, prepare the bed.
Harriet Smith of Texas was another former slave. She said in a 1941 recording that she did not go to school.
“Nuh huh. Uh, uh, they didn't know nothing about reading and writing. All that I knowed they teach you is mind your master and your mistress.”
Aunt Harriet, as she was called, said she did not know anything about reading or writing. She said she was taught only to obey the slave owners.
Slaves were considered property, like farm animals or furniture. Slave owners could do anything they wanted with their slaves — including separate them from their families, sexually abuse them, hurt or even kill them.
Harriet Smith said her owners treated her well. But she heard about slaves who were mistreated.
“Yes, I know of times they, when, when they mistreated people, they did, and I hear our folks talk, you know, about them whipping, you know, till they had to grease their back to take the holes from the, the back.”
Some slaves were beaten so badly, she said, they had to repair the holes in the their backs with grease.
By 1804, all Northern states had banned slavery. But northern whites still did not accept blacks as their equals.
And slavery was still legal in Southern states for most of the 1800s. Slave owners there said they needed slaves to work on large farms or for other economic reasons.
But other Americans said slavery was immoral. Or that it gave the South the unfair competitive edge of low-cost labor. The Compromise of 1850, then, attempted to balance the desires of those who supported and those who opposed slavery.
Politicians were not the only ones who struggled with the issue of slavery in the United States. Slaves, for example, had been fighting the system for some time.
Many slaves resisted their owners in small ways. They broke or hid tools. Or they worked slowly or claimed to be sick, even when they were not.
A few answered the violence of slavery with violence. They planned — but rarely succeeded — to kill their masters and escape.
A man named Nat Turner led one of the best known slave rebellions. Turner was born in 1800 in the slave state of Virginia. Unlike most slaves, he could read. He also believed that God had given him a special purpose.
In 1831, Turner saw what he described as a sign from above. The sign told him it was time to rebel against slavery. He gathered several men and, in the middle of the night, killed his master and his master’s family in their beds.
Turner and his men continued to another house, and then another. They killed every white person they found. Other slaves saw what was happening and joined Turner. By the end of the raids, 40 blacks had stabbed, beaten, or shot to death an estimated 55 whites.
A local white militia moved to stop Turner and his group. Almost all the attackers were captured quickly. Some were killed. Others were sold and sent away from their families.
But Nat Turner escaped capture. For a month he hid around his master’s farm. Finally someone found him. Turner was jailed, tried, sentenced, and hanged. After he died, his killers pulled off his skin and removed his head.
The historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr. studied Nat Turner’s slave rebellion. He wrote that blacks remembered Turner for his personal war against slavery, his violent methods, and his harsh treatment after death. But whites had a different reaction. Frightened white mobs killed another 200 blacks to answer the rebellion. Most of these blacks had no part in the rebellion.
After Nat Turner’s rebellion the state of Virginia passed stronger laws to control slaves. The legislation included bans on reading, gathering, and traveling.
Even with stronger laws in place, many slaves continued taking huge risks in an effort to win their freedom. From about the end of 1700s to the middle of the 1800s, thousands escaped slavery on what came to be called the "Underground Railroad."
The Underground Railroad was not a real railroad. It was a group of people, both blacks and whites, who secretly helped slaves escape to the North.
Members of the Underground Railroad helped slaves leave the places where they lived and worked. These “conductors” took the escaping slaves to a safe house or business, called a “station.”
“Stationmasters” hid the escaped slave. Then at night, a different conductor took him or her to another hiding place farther north. The process was repeated every day and night until the escaped slave was safe in a free state, or even in Canada.
A black woman named Harriet Tubman was perhaps the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. She had been born a slave around 1820. She worked first in a house, and then in the fields, for an owner in the slave state of Maryland.
Harriet Tubman was known for her bravery. One story people told about her happened when she was a teenage girl. An overseer — someone who controlled the slaves in the field — became angry with another slave. He threatened the man with a heavy weight.
Young Harriet stepped between the overseer and the other slave. The overseer threw the weight. It hit her in the head. For the rest of her life Harriet Tubman suffered from the injury. It caused headaches, strange dreams, and — from time to time — made her fall deeply asleep.
When Tubman was about 29, she suspected her owner would sell her. So she decided to escape instead. One night she secretly walked away. She walked over 200 kilometers, following the North Star. Eventually, she arrived in the city of Philadelphia in the free state of Pennsylvania.
A year later, Tubman returned to Maryland. She helped her sister and her sister’s children escape. Then she helped her brother and two other men. She helped her parents, who were over 70 years old. And she helped many others. In all, Tubman made as many as 19 trips to the South. She led about 300 slaves to freedom.
Tubman and her “passengers” were never caught. But if they had been, they would have been severely punished. Former masters were likely to beat, or cut off the hands of, escaped slaves.
The Compromise of 1850 made escaping slavery even harder. One of the bills Congress passed was the Fugitive Slave Act. It said anyone who helped a fugitive -- that is, an escaped slave -- would be fined. And, it said fugitive slaves must be returned to their owner, even if they had escaped to a free state.
Fugitive slaves had no right to a trial. Because they could not defend themselves in court, even freed blacks could be kidnapped and enslaved.
In 1852, a white woman published a book about slavery. She called it "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the book for one reason. She wanted to show how cruel slavery was. Fugitive slaves also published books about their experiences. The stories painted a picture of slavery that most people in the North had never seen. They were shocked. Public pressure to end slavery grew stronger.
Anti-slavery activists called Abolitionists wanted to free all slaves immediately. But even if that could be done, there was the question of what to do with the freed slaves. In many places, it seemed impossible that blacks and whites could live together peacefully and in freedom. The best answer, some people thought, was to free the slaves and help them return to Africa.
It was not a new idea. In the early 1800s, a group of leading Americans had formed an organization for that purpose. They called it the American Colonization Society.
In 1820, the Society began helping to send blacks to Africa.