You May Already Speak My Language

September 14, 2009  |  Articles

Good Morning Folks,

I took a few days off after writing up the interview with Armin … Remember you guys still have up till the 30th of September to go to bodalgo.com and get a free 1 month premium subscription… thats 1 month free auditioning at Europe’s only Voiceover Marketplace.

Ramadan is winding down… and the last days are upon us… Muslims hold the last 10 days as the holiest of the holiest month in the year so we spend a little more time in worship (yes in addition to the 5 daily prayers) and so my time is a bit scarce.

A conversation I had with a friend of mine about Languages and how many words in our lexicon are derived from words from other languages was the inspiration for this post. One of the things we has spoken (my friend and I) about was the  surprising possible source for the English term So Long came to mind as some believe that the Northern expression was imported into britain by soldiers serving in Malayan-speaking countries. Malayan salutation, Salang, a corruption of Arabic Salaam = peace. This expression is of course used in all english speaking countries but this is one of the proposed origins for this salutation.

So I decided to go to our trusty old Wikipedia and see how many more Arabic words where incorporated into the English language… and here is a short compilation of some of those words.

A

admiral
أميرالبحار, amīr al-bihār commander of the seas.
adobe
الطوب aṭ-ṭūb, the bricks.
albacore
الباكورة al-bakūra, perhaps from bakūr, premature.
albatross (or algatross)
الغطاس al-γaṭṭās (or al-ghaṭṭās), the diver.
alcohol
الغول – الكحول in the literature of late European alchemy, the quintessence of an earthly substance. See kohl in this list. The idea of “quintessences of earthly substances” and the use of “alcohol” to denote quintessences are developments in European alchemy in the 14th century. From the 1500s on, the denotation of “alcohol” narrowed down to “quintessence of wine” or “spirit of wine”, i.e., ethanol, CH3CH2OH, as the term “alcool vini” (quintessence of wine) got shortened to “alcool” or “alcohol”. The term alco(h)ol vini supplanted the original quinta essentia vini, “fifth essence of wine”.
alcove
قبة – طاقة al-qubba, “the vault”.
alembic
الإنبيق al-anbiq, “still” (the distillation device), from Greek ambix, stem ambik-, “cup”.
algebra
الجبر al-jabr, the restoring of missing parts. This word is reported to have entered Middle English in the sense of ‘the setting of broken bones’. The modern mathematical sense comes from the title of a book, al-kitāb al-muxtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-jabr wa-l-muqābala, “The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing“, by the 9th-century Muslim mathematician Muḥammad ibn Mūsa al-Xwārizmī. The appellation al-xwārizmī means literally “the Khwārizmian”, referring to Khwārizm, now Khiva, in Uzbekistan. Another legacy of this mathematician is that his appellation gave rise to the word algorithm الخوارزمية.
algorithm or algorism
الخوارزمي al-xwārizmī, the Khwārizmian. Appellation of the Persian scientist, Muḥammad ibn Mūsa al-Xwārizmī, who wrote the first book on algebra. See algebra in this list
alidade
عضادة , عِضَادة . A surveying instrument.
alizarin
العصارة al-ʕaṣārah, the juice. A dye.
alkali
القلي from qalā, to fry, to roast. ‘Alkali’ originally meant a saline substance derived from the ashes of plants.
alfalfa
al-fisfisa, fresh fodder
amalgam
الملغم al-malgham.
amber
amber/anbar, yellow
apricot
البرقوق al-birquq
arsenal
دار الصناعة dār aṣ-ṣināʕa, house of manufacturing
artichoke
الخرشوف al-xurshūf or from ardi chawki meaning “land thorn”. Choke شوك is Arabic for thorn.
assassin
حشاشين ḥashshāshīn, Arabic designation of the Nizari branch of the Ismā’īlī Shia Muslims during the Middle Ages.
attar
عطر itr/utur, perfume,aroma. [6]
aubergine
الباذنجان al-bādhinjān, from Persian bâdinjân ultimately from the Sanskrit vatin gana.
azimuth
السموت as-sumūt, the paths
azure
الزورد al-lazward, ‘lapis lazuli’ – from Persian.

B

barding (archaic term for horse armour)
bardaʿah, packsaddle -any of various pieces of defensive armor for a horse covering, from Persian.
benzoin
لبان جاوي labān jāwī, “frankincense of Java”. Benzoin is an organic chemical solvent extracted from a resin of an Asian tree.
bonito
bainīth.
burnous/burnoose
برنوس burnūs, from Latin byrrhus

C

caliber
قالب qâlib, ‘mould’, derived from Arabic.
camphor
كافور kafur.
carafe
غراف‎ gharrāfa, see decanter.
caraway
كراوية karāwiya
carob
خرّوب xarrūb, (1) locust; (2) carob bean
carrack
qarāqīr plural of qurqur
cipher
صفر sifr, zero
civet
zaba’d
coffee
قهوة qahwa, itself possibly from Kefa, Ethiopia, where the plant originated.
cotton
قُطْن qutun
crimson
الكرمزي qirmazi, related to the qirmiz, the insect that provided the dye.
curcuma
From Arabic word kurkum =saffron, turmeric.
coffin
From Arabic kaffan كفن

D

dragoman
ترجمان tarjumān, from Aramaic turgemānā, in turn from Akkadian.

G

gazelle
غزال ghazāl
gerbil
See jerboa in this list; the word “gerbil” is a European created diminutive of “jerboa”, but the words refer to distinct species.
ghoul
غول ghūl
giraffe
زرافة zarāfa
Guitar
From Arabic قيثارة Guithara

H

harem
حريم harīm, forbidden thing or place
hashish
حشيش hashīsh, Cannabis
hazard
الزهر az-zahr, chance, name of the pieces used in the game of ‘nard,’ or ‘tawola.’ It can also represent a type of flower.
henna
حنة hinna

I-J

ifrit
عفريت Ifreet an ancient demon.
jar
جرة jarrah, large earthen vase
jasmine
from French. jasmin, , from Arabic yas(a)min ياسمين
jinn
Also (Genie) in Arabic is الجن al Jinn Another creation from fire which humans cannot physically see.
jerboa
جربوع jarbūa. See also gerbil in this list.

K

kohl
الكحل al-kuhl, kohl. Powdered stibnite, used for millennia to decorate the eyes and as an eye medicine. (Stibnite is an ore of the element antimony.)

L

lacquer
lakk.
lilac
from Arabic lilak, from Pers. lilak, variant of nilak “bluish,” from nil “indigo”
lime
ليمه leemah “citrus fruit,” a back-formation or a collective noun from ليمون laymun “lemon”
loofah
from the Egyptian Arabic word lūfa لوفه.
lute
العود al-ʕūd, “the oud”, a forerunner of the guitar.

M

mafia
Perhaps mahyas, “aggressive, boasting, bragging.” ; but the OED suggests another Arabic derivation, from Sicilian marfusu (‘scoundrel’), from Spanish marfuz (‘traitor’) from Arabic marfud (‘outcast’).
magazine
مخازين makhāzin, storehouses,
mascara
uncertain origin; possibly from مسخرة maskhara “buffoon” or from an unknown language. In modern Arabic maskhara means to ridicule
mattress
مطرح matrah, (1) spot where something is thrown down; (2) mat, cushion
mocha
مخا al-muxā (or al-mukhā), city of Mocha, Yemen
mohair
مخير muxayyar, having the choice
monsoon
موسم mawsim, season
mummy
موميا mūmiyyā, embalmed corpse (ultimately from Persian).
muslin
derived from the name of the Iraqi city of موصل Mosul, where cotton fabric was manufactured

N

nunation
from the Arabic name of the ‘n’ sound: nuun نون . Medical term: overly frequent or abnormal use (as in stammering) of the sound of the letter n.

O

orange
From Arabic word نارنج naranj, from Sanskrit via Persian.

P

popinjay
ببفا babaγā Parrot.

Q

qat / khat
قات kat The plant Catha edulis.

R

racquet or ‘racket’
راحة rāhah, palm of the hand
realgar
rahj al-ghar,[6] a mineral
ream (quantity of sheets of paper)
رزمة rizma, bale, bundle
rice
“riz”, from Arabic رز.

S

safari
from Swahili safari, journey, in turn from (Arabic: سفر‎, safar).
safflower
عصفر , أصفر asfar, yellow .
saffron
زعفران zaffarān (or zaffarān), species of crocus plant bearing orange stigmas and purple flowers.
sash
شاش shāsh, wrap of muslin. See muslin in this list.
sequin
صقع sikka, die, coin
sherbet, sorbet, shrub, syrup
شراب sharāb, a drink
soda
perhaps from سوادة suwwāda, سويد suwayd, or سويدة suwayda, a species of plant
sofa
suffa, stone ledge
sumac
summāq “سمَاق”, from Aramaic.
sesame
From Arabic simsim سمسم

T

tabby (fabric)
عتابي ʕattābī (9attābī), deriv. of (al-)ʕattābiyya, quarter of Baghdad where watered silk was first made, named after a prince, ʕattāb
tahini
طحين ṭaḥīn, flour, which derives from the Arabic verb for “grind”
talc
طلق ṭalq, from Persian.
tamarind
تمر هندي tamr-hindī, date of India
tangerine
First oranges imported into Europe were from Tangier, Morocco.
tare
tarḥa, a discard (something discarded)
tariff
تعريفة taʕrīfa (or ta9rīfa), act of making known; notification
tazza
طشت ṭašt, round, shallow, drinking cup made of metal. Amer. Heritage Dict.

Z

zenith
سمت الرأس samt ar-ra’s, zenith, vertex
zero
صفر sifr, cipher, zero.

So if you lasted as long as reaching the letter Z then maybe you can leave a comment and include words who’s origin are in your native language (if your native language isnt english) and was incorporated into English and is now part of the popular lexicon.

Thanks for visiting Taji’s Voice Emporium… we try to broaden your world a little with each article.

taji