Sunday, August 24, 2008

"Mulungeons and Eboshins"

Ethnic and Political Epithets

by Wayne Winkler

Of all the mysteries surrounding the mixed-ethnic population known as Melungeons, one of the most emblematic is the mystery surrounding the origin of the word “Melungeon.” Many possible origins for the term have been suggested by various researchers over the years, ranging from a supposed Afro-Portuguese word, “Melungo” meaning (depending on the source) “shipmate” or “white person,” to the old English term “malengine,” meaning “cunning” or “full of guile,” to the Arabic “Melun-jinn,” meaning “cursed soul.” Historically, most researchers have opted for the French term “mélange” (“mixture”) as the root of the term “Melungeon.”

For the complete text of this lengthy but very interesting essay by MHS president Wayne Winkler, click here.

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