[Ads-l] Cap/Kap - "joke, not be serious, (hence: lie), ritualized joking tradition of Native Black Americans"

Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Wed Apr 21 21:48:20 UTC 2021

As the host of that radio show, I would love to read your research on "to
cap" and "ki(t|n)chen (hair at the nape of the neck)."

When preparing for episodes, I look for and review substantial prior work
by others, if there is any, and I check it against my own library and
digital archives, and historical, primary online sources.

I most certainly welcome any dated, printed citations from the historical
record you have found that can shed light on those terms.

Best wishes,

Grant Barrett
co-host/co-producer, "A Way with Words"

On Fri, Apr 9, 2021 at 11:53 AM Z Sohna <zrice3714 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Some years ago, I researched the Native Black American *cap/kap* meaning
> "to joke, tease, to not be serious (hence, to lie)". It is also a noun,
> meaning "a joke, teasing, something said without being serious (hence, a
> lie)". It is also used among Native Black Americans to refer to their
> ritualized joking tradition.
> I noted that it is derived from the Wolof *kaf* "to joke, to tease, to not
> be serious; a joke, teasing". (Among both populations, it is a noun, as
> well as a verb.)
> I noticed however that on the *A Way with Words* podcast, it was instead
> attributed to "the 1500s when you might "cap" an anecdote, quotation, or
> verse as part of a verbal jousting game".
> The same podcast (inexplicably) attributed the Native Black American
> *kichin* "nape, tightly coiled, spiral hairs at the nape or temples" to the
> Scottish *kinch* "kink, noose", instead of the Kikongo *kichingu* "nape"
> and the Kikongo *kiʒiŋgu* "coil, spiral". It also wrongfully attributed the
> Native Black American *shank* "any crude knife or machete" to *shank* (as
> in English) "a person's leg" or (as the podcaster stated:) "something
> pointy" - instead of the Kikongo *zangu* "machete, knife". The podcaster
> also attributes shank to "prison slang" despite its universal use among
> Native Black Americans (he doesn't mention the population at all, but
> instead mentions "prison"). The term *shank* also appears in an early issue
> of *American Speech* (it would take me some time to find that exact issue
> but I can, if needed), in which its use is mentioned in the southeastern
> United States - but certainly NOT as "prison slang".
> Among Native Black Americans, *shank* also means "to cut, to slash, to
> stab", from the Kikongo *zanga* meaning "to cut, slice".
> In all of these cases, the African origin(s) was neither discussed nor
> disclosed - which is bewildering since the progenitors of this very same
> population were trafficked from the African continent.
> Regards,
> Zola Sohna
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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