Q: Did Latin's "niger" (black) originate from an African word for the Niger River?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sat Oct 22 21:14:03 UTC 2011

On Sat, Oct 22, 2011 at 12:14 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
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> Sender: Â  Â  Â  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: Â  Â  Â  "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject: Â  Â  Â Q: Did Latin's "niger" (black) originate from an African word for
> Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â the Niger River?
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> In <i>Black History and Black Identity</i> (p. 99), William D. Wright
> says:<br><br>
> <font size=3>“Yet the etymology, the root of the word Negro, has to be
> traced to Africa. That root is <i>Niger</i>, which was an ancient African
> word that found its way into Roman Latin. The word itself, in its usage
> in ancient Africa, had nothing to do with color or race, but was a
> reference to a river in Africa: the Niger River. Rome brought northern
> Africa under its domination, which also drew some central Africans under
> its domination, including those from the area of the Niger River.”
> <br><br>
> </font>And later (p. 100), Wright says:<br><br>
> <font size=3>“J. A. Rogers brought clarity to this etymological matter
> back in the 1950s: ‘The word comes from the River Niger, and Nigritae
> means the people from the River Niger. “Ni” probably means “great” and
> Ger, or Geir, is African for river. At first Niger had nothing more to do
> with black than the waters of the river itself. “Ater” was the Latin for
> black.’[10]” <br><br>
> </font>[Wright's footnote here is probably only for the quotation from
> Rogers, and not for the statement on p. 99.]<br><br>
> All true, partly true, or all false?<br><br>
> Joel</body>
> </html>
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> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Was Plato black? Was Cleopatra black? If these are questions meriting
attention, then I guess random claims WRT the etymology of Latin
_niger_  and the etymology of the name of the Niger River also merit

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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