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Does anyone know the Kongo word for striped? I'm trying to find out whether the word zebra came from this language, via Old Portugese, in the 1400s. Are there older versions of the language? Dbfirs 13:18, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
I hope I do understand your question. One of the words for "strip" in Kikongo is zeba. Karl Lam, Dictionnaire kikongo-français, pp. 1154-1155 gives for zeba in French the following definitions: détacher, lâcher, dénouer, devenir mou, tendre (viande); souple, ni raide, ni dur (p. ex. des ressorts); être lâche, se relâcher (p. ex. des ressorts); être dans le besoin, misère; être faible, sans force, délicat (personne); être facile, aisé, ni sévère, ni difficile (jugement, etc.). Now, does the Portugese zebra comes from the Kikongo zeba? I don't know. But it seems that the Kikongo zeba derives from the Egyptian nbi (nebi) which means to melt (p. ex. metal)? About the Egyptian word, see Raymond Faulkner, A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian, p. 129. --Lusala lu ne Nkuka Luka (talk) 21:50, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for your research into the word. I don't know any Old Portugese so I've no idea whether they were likely to introduce the "r" to make zebra. The Oxford English Dictionary has researched this without coming to any firm conclusion, so I will just have to accept that the origin of zebra is lost in the mists of time, though I rather like the theory of a Kikongo source. Dbfirs 19:05, 29 October 2009 (UTC)