The Tango - Origin of the Word

Term origins

More than a hundred and twenty years after its emergence Tango has still no certain theory about its birth as a musical type or about its term.

Our first popular music history writers looked for its etymology in Europe, from the spanish 'Tañir or a deformation of the quechua word tambo by the colonizers. Others state that the term belongs to the Portuguese language and that it would have reappeared at the slave plantations.

The pronunciation Tango, from African origin is a phonetic deformation of the name Shango, black God of the tempest who eats fire, wears lightening bolts and speaks with thunder.

In the Nago language of the black people from Nigeria, the name of that God is written Sango. The S sound is not as the French CH or the English SH. Opposite to what it is usually assumed, it is similar to a Spanish S, whistling sound, so that the articulation from SANGO to TANGO is made with a minimum degree of difficulty.


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