Arabic words in English

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Hani, May 10, 2007.

  1. Jeremyhfht Registered Senior Member

    As I said, you know what I meant. I used stole for emphasis. As "loans" tend to never be repaid language wise.
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  3. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    I think you'll find the repayment is the persistence of the word in the language, any language.
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  5. Jeremyhfht Registered Senior Member

    *throws arms up in the air* Oh screw it! *walks off*
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    It's just dialect. Every language community has the right to invent its own words. At least in English anyway, I suppose the French don't feel that way about Quebecois words.

    The Spanish word for "now" is ahora. In Mexico the diminutive form ahorita has been coined to mean "right now." When I used that word in Spain the Spanish people giggled and said, "Oh those Mexicans, they're always in such a hurry. They don't know how to slow down and enjoy life."

    Anyone familiar with the American racist stereotype of Mexicans will fall over laughing, as I did.
    "Prepone" is a logical formation. Prae- and post- are both proper Latin prefixes on ponere, "to put." If the Romans never coined the word praeponere... well then I guess they had Spaniards in charge of their schedules and just never needed it.

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    But the etymology of "prequel" is whimsical fragmentation. "Sequel" is from Latin sequella, a noun formed from the verb sequi, "to follow." To remove the S and leave the Q is to chop up the root word arbitrarily. A true antonym of "sequel" would be something like "precedel."

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  8. putzimen Registered Member

    Fraggle Rocker, Hani, I'm responding five years too late, hope you guys are alive and well! Stumbled upon this tonight, while scouting for something else, but i don't think it's too late to say i enjoyed it. A civil exchange, very erudite, and marked by extreme self-deprecation on both sides! Wanted to respond on various counts, beginning from the issue of loanwords -- and what a great point somebody made about loans having to be repaid!

    Fact is, I would have read and moved on -- there are all these platforms for fraternising, but they never seem to work, in fact descend into hatespeak so fast that you want to move on. Something about this made me want to stick on and talk. I really don't even know if this is a live thing and if anybody will read what i write! But what the heck...

    Too much influenced by one of those arabic words beginning with "al-" right now, if you people are still out there, I'll tell you a small (insignificant) story about "prepone". Meanwhile, from India, all the best to China, Arabia, the West, and all the little people and little places that survived all these centuries of being "civilised".
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I don't know about all of the rest of the members who posted on this thread, but I'm still here after 12 years, and I'm still the moderator of the Linguistics subforum (about five years in that position).
    Many of our members originally fell in from a Google search and decided to stay. That's how I got here, although in those days it was DogPile or one of the other search engines.

    One of the most important jobs of the moderators is to violate everyone's right to free speech and delete posts with words, images or notions that would get this website blocked by servers in schools and corporate offices, or by parents looking over their kids' shoulders.
    Civility of course is a voluntary way to accomplish the same thing. People like you might not stick around to join a discussion if it gets too nasty.
    You'll find that here too, but we try to keep it under control. Trolling is a violation of the rules and I stick to the basic definition of the word:
    Stalling the forward motion of a discussion by veering off topic or starting a flame war. Humor is always okay, of course.
    Linguistics is not one of our most popular subfora, but it gets enough traffic to remain interesting. It often goes into academic detail.
    We have several members in India. Which state do you live in, and what is your regional language?

    The basic meaning of "civilization" is simply "the building of cities." This was the second Paradigm Shift in our history, following the Agricultural Revolution, which both allowed and required us to A) stop being nomads, B) stop worrying about a food shortage so we no longer had to regard other tribes as rivals for scarce resources, and C) invite those other people to live with us (because economies of scale and division of labor make a community more productive per capita) in larger groups.

    Building cities took this a step farther and required overcoming our instinctive pack-social organization, in which everyone has cared for and depended on everyone else from birth, and learning to live in harmony and cooperation with total strangers.

    So as far as I'm concerned, the effective meaning of the word "civilized" is "being nice to people you don't know because it's the right thing to do."
  10. Xotica Everyday I’m Shufflin Registered Senior Member

    A minor beef. In Arabic, the word sahwa is used to describe a sudden insight of reality.

    During the Iraq War, the American military and fourth estate translated the Arabic word sahwa as "awakening"... as in Sahwa al Anbar = The Anbar Awakening.

    Used in the context above however, I've always felt that a more precise English translation of sahwa would have been either epiphany or revelation.
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Americans are not big on precision in language. The meanings of "awakening," "epiphany" and "revelation" are similar enough that as far as we're concerned they overlap. Most of us couldn't even explain the difference and a lot of us don't even realize that there is a difference.

    After all, we're the people who invented a device that attaches to our guitars for producing vibrato, and we call it a tremolo arm. If we can't get the language of rock'n'roll right, something that's near and dear to our hearts, then the language of politics in some distant foreign country is a hopeless task.

    Besides, we're a secular civilization and both "revelation" and (especially) "epiphany" have very strong religious overtones.
  12. Saint Valued Senior Member

    Is Allah an English word too? Means God?
  13. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    My favorite is the Spanish "ojalá que" which means 'I hope that' followed by whatever one hopes for. It derives from 'O Allah', or an invocation to god. Arrived in Spain from the Moorish invasion.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 27, 2012
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    No. It is only used when discussing Islam, or when quoting the speech of Muslim people. If you use it in any other context, people will assume that you are a Muslim. It is regarded as a foreign name: the Arabic translation of "God."

    In English, the word/name "God" is most commonly used, even by those of us who regard God as just a metaphor, legend, fairytale, etc. Christian people also frequently call him "the Lord," sometimes "the Almighty," "the Father" or "our Father," and especially when speaking directly to him in prayer, simply "Father."

    In some Christian congregations he is known as "Jehovah." This is the Latin transliteration of the Hebrew name "Yahweh" יהוה, with arbitrary vowels inserted because in Hebrew (as in all the Afroasiatic languages including Amharic, Arabic, Egyptian, etc.) vowels are not phonemic and have no effect on meaning, and therefore are not written. "Jehovah" was pronounced "Ye-ho-wah" in Classical Latin, but today we pronounce it "Je-ho-va," a name the ancient Hebrews would not recognize. No one knows which vowels they might have used, and in fact they would have deliberately attempted to use the wrong ones because they believed it was a horrible sin to say God's name aloud and he would have killed anyone who did so. Apparently "Yahweh" is not the correct pronunciation because no one has ever been reduced to a pile of ashes for speaking it.

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    El and the longer form eloh are also Hebrew words meaning "God," and they invoke no punishment. The component "-el" in Hebrew names means "God," as in Micha-el: "Who resembles God?" Isra-el: "Triumphant with God" or "Wrestles with God," Jo-el: "Yahweh is God," and Ezeki-el: "God will strengthen." Eloh is the same word as Arabic allah, with vowels substituted almost randomly in the Afroasiatic linguistic tradition. In the older classical dialects of those languages both names begin with a glottal consonant which is no longer pronounced.

    The Rastafarians use a shortened version of Jehovah/Yahweh and almost always refer to God as Jah. They did not invent this, you can see it in the ancient Hebrew exclamation, Hallelujah, "(may you all) praise God."

    Note the accent on the third syllable, pronounced o-kha-LA. The Portuguese have it too, spelled Oxalá and pronounced o-sha-LA.

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