There are several theories about the origin of the word samba. One of them claims that samba came from the word Zumba or Zamba, both coming from Arabic, from when the Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century. Another theory says it originated from one of many African languages, possibly the Kimbundu, where sam means give and ba means receive or thing falls.
In Brazil, folklorists suggest that the word samba is a corruption of the Kikongo word Semba, translated as umbigada in Portuguese, meaning "a blow struck with the belly button".
One of the oldest records of the word samba appeared in Pernambuco magazine's O Carapuceiro, dated February 1838, when Father Miguel Lopes Gama of Sacramento wrote against what he called the samba d'almocreve – not referring to the future musical genre, but a kind of merriment (dance drama) popular for black people of that time. According to Hiram Araújo da Costa, over the centuries, the festival of dances of slaves in Bahia were called samba.
In the middle of the 19th century, the word samba defined different types of music made by African slaves when conducted by different types of Batuque, but it assumed its own characteristics in each Brazilian state, not only by the diversity of tribes for slaves, but also the peculiarity of each region in which they were settlers. Some of these popular dances were known as bate-baú, samba-corrido, samba-de-roda, samba-de-Chave and samba-de-barravento in Bahia; coco in Ceará; tambor-de-crioula (or ponga) in Maranhão; trocada, coco-de-parelha, samba de coco and soco-travado in Pernambuco; bambelô in Rio Grande do Norte; partido-alto, miudinho, jongo and caxambu in Rio de Janeiro; and samba-lenço, samba-rural, tiririca, miudinho, and jongo in São Paulo.
In Argentina, Brazil's neighbor to the south, there is a dance called "Zamba", a name which seems to share ethymological origins with the Samba, though the dance itself is quite different.
Read more about this topic: Samba
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