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"Vibranium" is a coined word in English, based on the word "vibration", which in turn has a Latin base.

I am blindly assuming that when it was originally found in Wakanda, that's not what it was called. It may likely have had some similarly coined name in their language (based on Xhosa, IIRC, in the film anyway) meaning "power metal" or something.

Many years later, when other scientists got ahold of samples, they named it "Vibranium", and odds are the Wakandan scientists thought "Yeah, that's actually a pretty good name" and started using it in their research papers, and eventually it became the colloquial word for it.

I can't think of another example of what I mean other than "Maize...what you call 'corn' " from the old Mazola commercials, but I'll lay odds there's a linguistic term for when another country's term becomes the standard, even in the item's original country.

So the question is, has the original, historic term for Vibranium ever been named?

Probably more a question for the comics than the movie, but odds are it's the same answer.

  • 6
    As an aside, the phenomenon you're referring to is just called lexical borrowing; The fact that the language already has a similar-meaning word is largely irrelevant. Sometimes the native expression is supplanted completely (e.g. beef in English from Norman bœf), but sometimes they live happily together: cf. English windpipe and trachea or kingly and royal. – errantlinguist Mar 15 '18 at 17:59
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    Yeah, I know there's plenty of tech words like "computer" where the (usually) English word becomes the standard. In those cases, a native term isn't as common, as they're "new" things. The japanese word for "Rush hour" is pronounced "rashawa". France has (had?) been attempting to use french terms and not "garbage words" for such things, but I've no idea now successful it's been. – VBartilucci Mar 15 '18 at 18:04
  • I'm not familiar with the Black Panther comics, but IRL it's plausible that the unrefined ore might still be called by the native Wakandan word while the finished alloy might be called vibranium, so if anyone knows mentions of ore in the comics, that'd be a good place to start looking. – errantlinguist Mar 15 '18 at 18:35
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Isipho

When interrogated by Everett Ross, Klaue reveals that the Wakandan name for Vibranium was Isipho

Klaue: What do you actually know about Wakanda?
Ross: Um... Shepherds, textiles, cool outfits.
Klaue: It's all a front. Explorers searched for it for centuries. El Dorado, the Golden City. They thought they could find it in South America, but it was in Africa the whole time. A technological marvel. All because it was built on a mound of the most valuable metal known to man. Isipho, they called it. The gift. Vibranium.

Black Panther (2018)

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