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Disguises - mumbo jumbo

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Gray
60873.  Sun Mar 19, 2006 4:10 pm Reply with quote

Nominal question only...

Question: Who would be taken in by mumbo-jumbo?
Answer: Only the most unruly wife.

Notes: Mungo Park, an 18th Century Scottish explorer, documented certain of the Mandingo African tribes in his travels around the continent and published them in 1799 in Travels In The Interior of Africa. In those tribes where the chief has many wives, the household can sometimes become a little 'tense and difficult' as they strive for seniority.

In this situation, the husband - or his friend - disguises himself in a terrifying 'monster suit' and enters the house after dark accompanied by a lot of screaming, nonsense-shouting and thrashing about. He seizes the 'main troublemaker' and ties her to a post, scourging her with the 'Mumbo Rod'.

The term may have been a corruption of ma-ma-gyo-mbo, 'magician who makes the troubled spirts of ancestors go away:' (ma-ma = grandmother; gyo = trouble; mbo = to leave)

Its current meaning of "big, empty talk" was first used in 1738, however, so it may well have been 'adapted to fit' something that was observed.

Poppycock comes from the Dutch pappe and kak meaning, literally, 'soft shit'. (kak is from the Latin cacare, to excrete).

The word bunkum dates back to the afternoon of Feb 25th, 1820. It is a simplified spelling of 'Buncombe', a small town in North Carolina where, on that afternoon, a less-than-keen Felix Walker, state representative for North Carolina was obliged to give a speech, mostly, he admitted, so that the name of the town could be mentioned on the capitol, and that would be good for them (read: him). Hence the pointless and empty verbiage that issues forth for many politicians is known as bunkum, after that event.

Other favourites for 'nonsense' include 'horsefeathers', 'piffle' (origin unknown) and 'twaddle' (originating from 'twittle twattle' in late Middle English).

Sources:
OED
Brewer's
http://www.ligali.org/terminology/word.php?id=39

 

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