Bunda - Bounda - Booty

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by tom_in_bahia, Jul 31, 2007.

  1. tom_in_bahia Senior Member

    Teixeira de Freitas, BA, Brasil
    South Florida/Phoenix-Tucson/the Adirondacks. Native of North American English
    This seems like a strange title for a thread, but I have a theory that I would like to prove or disprove and the internet has not proved resourceful to achieve this goal.

    Bunda - Brazilian Portuguese
    Bounda - Haitian Creole
    Booty/Boody - BVE (and Contemporary Standard American English)

    Clearly the BP and HC words for "rear" or "butt" are related and almost pronounced identically, which to me is not enough to prove their relation, in general. Nevertheless, slave diaspora from West Africa clearly proves the mass human movement from West African sovereign states and colonies to Brazil and subsequently to the Caribbean and the Southern US. I do not know which African Language these words come from, but my guess would be one from the region Côte D'Ivoire/Nigeria (perhaps Yoruba?).

    The thing I don't know for sure is the relationship with BVE "booty/boody" - if there is one. Online and in dictionaries, the etymology of the word booty has been attested as the corruption of "body" by African descendent populations in the Southern US. I don't know if I accept that, as I've never seen an example that proves this connection in an etymological dictionary or resource. Today, our vowel medial d/dd/t/tt are consistently being pronounced as a tap/flap in SAE and the BVE word does not have a nasal in the first syllable. In this way, I would accept the theory that booty is an approximation or relation between "body" in English and /bunda/ (?) in the original West African language it came from. Perhaps, the proximity in body (pronounced with a /d/) with bunda was enough to make that connection in early undereducated/illiterate people.

    We know other words traveled with the slave populations. I think the BP word for Okra, quiabo is related to the French/HC gumbo. Also, the (now derogatory) SSE word pickaninny (and pikny [sp?] in Jamaican English for child) comes originally from the Portuguese “pequeninho”, or little one.
  2. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Angola. It's a word from Kimbundu (search it here; follow the link to bundo).

    Or pequenino. I was surprised, even saddened, when I found out that the English word is derogatory. We say it every day, and to anyone. But I suppose it may have been used condescendingly in the past.
  3. albondiga Senior Member


    Is it really such a stretch just to say that it moved from its meaning of the bounty that a man would get when he plunders (as in a pirate's booty) to something else that a man might try to capture by whatever means possible? ;)

    This is how I've always thought of the development of this word, in any case...


    a) Think of "the goods" (as in "she's got the goods"); not exactly the same, but worth mentioning...

    b) also, consider the British "boot" (for what we American's call a "trunk"; i.e, the place in the back of the car where goods are stored).. "booty" could theoretically be just a diminutive form of the word referring to such a place at the back end where some sorts of goods are stored (this might be a bit of a stretch though, because it's American slang we're discussing here... still, thought I'd mention it...)
  4. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    Bunda meaning buttocks is common to several Bantu languages, Kimbundu from Angola,Duala from Cameroon among others. There is even a Duala proverb found in Haitian Creole. Duala speakers translate it to Duala-English as " money na hand back na ground" na=in bunda=back(side) Haitian " l'argent na main bounda na terre" also known in Dominican Spanish/other half of the same island (proverb said to be of Haitian origin) "dinero en mano culo en tierra". As for the American usage I think Albondigas definition is the logical one. As for okra it is also called gumbo in the US. quingombó/quimbombó/gombo in Spanish. Bantu languages ngombo.

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