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

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sun Oct 23 18:45:51 UTC 2011

It is strange that Wright refers to "African" as
a language.  Elsewhere he iterates the argument
that blacks in America can't have an "African"
heritage because they did not (where they came
from) refer to the continent as "Africa" and had
come from various regions with various
cultures.  (In support of his 2002 thesis that
"African-American" is incorrect and outdated, "Black" is correct and in.)


At 10/23/2011 11:22 AM, Salikoko Mufwene wrote:
>I don't think the Niger River was known to the
>Romans or even earlier to the Greeks. They
>traded with Mediterranean Africa and knew of the
>Sudan and Ethiopia (not as defined politically
>since the 19th century!), thanks to trade along
>the Nile River and along the Red Sea, but not as
>well as they knew (the northern part of) Egypt.
>The statement that "Ger, or Geir, is African for
>_river_" is ridiculous. What does "African" mean
>linguistically, even from the point of view of
>language families. It's like saying the Rhine is European for river.
>On 10/23/2011 9:46 AM, Damien Hall wrote:
>>It seems as if yesterday's discussion has put
>>paid to this suggestion (particularly Jon's
>>contribution, for me).  And yet I can't help
>>noticing that no-one has called Wright on his
>>specific suggestion that 'Ger, or Geir, is
>>African for _river_'.  'African'?  This, to me,
>>was the crowning proof that the writer needed to do more research.
>>Damien Hall
>>University of Kent (UK / Royaume-Uni)
>>Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, 'Towards a New Linguistic Atlas of France'
>>Projet de recherche: 'Vers un Nouvel Atlas Linguistique de la France'
>>English Language and Linguistics, School of European Culture and Languages
>>Section de Langue et Linguistique Anglaises,
>>Faculté de la Culture et des Langues Européennes
>>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>Salikoko S. Mufwene                    s-mufwene at uchicago.edu
>The Frank J. McLoraine Distinguished Service
>Professor of Linguistics and the College
>Professor, Committee on Evolutionary Biology
>Professor, Committee on the Conceptual&  Historical Studies of Science
>University of Chicago                  773-702-8531; FAX 773-834-0924
>Department of Linguistics
>1010 East 59th Street
>Chicago, IL 60637, USA
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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