Code Switch: Word WatchEach week, we take a look at a word or phrase that's caught our attention, whether for its history, usage, etymology, or just because it has an interesting story. This week, we look into how we came to call cannabis "marijuana," and the role Mexico played in that shift.
Code Switch: Word Watch
Construction of the Panama Canal
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Signs marking the entrance to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota make it clear when you're literally "off the reservation," but the figurative meaning of the phrase has shifted over time.
Scottish explorer Mungo Park was among the first Europeans to view the Mandinka tribe's masked dancers who were known as Maamajomboo. He translated the word as "mumbo jumbo.' This 1797 illustration from Park's book, "Travels In The Interior Districts of Africa" shows a view of Kamalia village in Mandinka country.