possible antedating of Melungeon/Malungeon?

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sun Apr 20 05:14:53 UTC 2003

>The OED has 1840 (but spelled "malungeon" in the cite).
>... An investigative reporter wrote an article which said
>      [The word was used in the September 26th, 1813 minutes of the Stoney
> Creek church of Virginia. Sister Susanna Kitchen brought a complaint to
> the church against Sister Susanna "Sookie" Stallard for "harboring them
> Melungins."]
>... As a secondary issue, the writer claims that the word is from the
>Kimbundu language spoken by the Mbundu nation in Angola in the 1600's and
>originally meant "watercraft" and that the "shipmates" who were brought to
>the US used the term to refer to themselves.

One would need to review the primary document, I suppose ... probably

Portuguese etymological dictionaries do show "malungo" (= "comrade" or so)
as definitely from Kimbundu, the exact form and meaning of the ancestral
Kimbundu word apparently uncertain however. I have no Kimbundu reference
book available to me.

I'm not convinced about "melungeon" however: the "g" is not the same "g" as
in "malungo". Origin from "melange" seems phonetically and semantically
believable, and "melange" is old in English, so you don't need to involve
any Frenchmen. My own wild guess, however, is "Melungeon" < "Mulatto" +

-- Doug Wilson

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