Some Arabic Trivia


Some things I learned about the Arab language while reading Barbara Whiteside’s Sugar Comes From Arabic:

most Arabs would pronounce America, [am REEK ka]

Ramadan (the Arab month of daylight fasting and abstinence) comes from a word that means “to be burned/scorched”; seems Muhammad held the first Ramadan during a hot month– which is doubly difficult, since the days are longer in the Summer

Over the years, the Muslim month of Ramadan slowly moves through the West’s calendar year, coming full circle every 32 years

the Ramadan fasting-month ends with a three day celebration called ‘Eid’l Fitr [ah EED’l  FIT’r]

In Arabic, Palestinians are called “Philisteenie” [fill a STEEN ee]

Egyptians call Egypt “Masr” [which, itself, derives from a verb meaning “to civilize” or, basically, “to Egyptianize”]

Hegira is pronounced more like “Hij-rah” in Arabic

the answer to most any conversational type question [“How are you?”   “How was the trip?”, etc] begins very frequently with “Praise be to God…”  [“…I am good.”  “…it was fine.”, etc].  In Arabic this is, “Al Hamdu lillaah…”

“alcohol” comes from Arabic and means “the essence,” and just like in English can apply to drinking or rubbing alcohol

“Kareem” (boy’s name) means “noble, kind, high-minded”

A more precise translation of the city name of Mecca would be “Makkah”

Alchemy comes from the Arab word for chemistry, “al keemiya”

Artichoke comes from the Arabic “al kharashoof”

“Latifah” means “friendly, pretty, gentle”

Two Arabic Farewells:  “Ma’a Salaamah” (“go with safety”), and “Allaah Ma’aak” (“God be with you”)

Muhammad = “Praised, Praiseworthy”

Arabs often answer a “thank you” or a request with, “No problem!” (“Mish Mooshkilah!”)

the girl’s name “Noor” means “Light”

Arabs call Paris, “Barees”

Harry Potter is widely read, but his name in Arabic is “Hary Bootr”

The word guitar comes from Arabic (“Khee tah rah”) [with the “kh” sound being that back-of-the-throat-clearing sound]

“Hassan” means “handsome, good”

“Assalaamu alaykum” means “Peace be upon you.”

“Open sesame!” comes from the Arabic, “Iftah, yaa simsim!,” from the story “Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves”

The Arabs introduced sugar [SOOK ar] to the West

“Nasir” means “helper, protector”

The Arab word “Sahara” is synonymous with “desert;” Sahara is their word for desert

“Shaquille” means “well-formed, handsome”

“Checkmate” comes from “Shaykh maat” which means “the King is dead” [Shaykh and “Sheik” come from the same root, “Sheik” meaning “chief” or “religious leader/scholar”]

“Mumtaz!” means “Wonderful!”

Gilbraltar means “Tariq’s Mountain” [“Jabal Tariq”] in Arabic; Tariq, a Berber military leader from North Africa, opened up the Spanish peninsula to Arabization in 711 AD

“Ali” means “exalted”


Related Post:  My Language Obsession


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