Pop quiz: What's a word you use a hundred times a day — that doesn't show up in the dictionary?
Give up? Mmhmm.
You got it! Mmhmm is a small word that's often used unconsciously. But it can actually tell us a lot about language, bias and the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Once upon a time, English speakers didn't say "mmhmm." But Africans did, according to Robert Thompson, an art history professor at Yale University who studies Africa's influence on the Americas.