From Ara­bic

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE -

WITH­OUT al-ge­bra there would not be physics, with­out al-gorithms there wouldn’t be com­put­ers, and with­out al-ka­line there wouldn’t be chem­istry. Wel­come to the world of Ara­bic used in the English lan­guage.

It was Is­lam that paved the way to the up­heavals in the his­tory of sci­ence. Ara­bic words were first used in the English lan­guage as early as the 14th cen­tury A.D. when Is­lam be­gan to gain im­por­tance and change the his­tor­i­cal land­scape of the world as it spread in all di­rec­tions from the Ara­bian penin­sula where Prophet Muham­mad preached Is­lam. English and Euro­pean ex­plor­ers dis­cov­ered com­plex math­e­mat­ics and the prac­tice of medicine by Arabs in coun­tries like Iraq, Egypt and Saudi Ara­bia dur­ing that time.

The biggest ben­e­fi­ciary of this knowl­edge is medicine and to­day, there are thou­sands of Ara­bic terms used in this branch of sci­ence. In fact, the med­i­cal text­book writ­ten by Ira­nian physi­cian and philoso- pher Ibnu Sina or Avi­cenna (9811037) is still be­ing re­ferred to to­day. The works of third cen­tury Greek physi­cian Galen, trans­lated into Ara­bic and later into Latin and English, are also still in use to­day. Over time, more Ara­bic words were im­ported, ex­pand­ing the English lan­guage vo­cab­u­lary be­yond medicine.

Re­cent and on­go­ing re­ports about wars and atroc­i­ties in coun­tries in the Mid­dle East con­tain nu­mer­ous Ara­bic terms, and words like ji­had, in­tifada, fe­day­een, fatwa, as­sas­sin, Sul­tan, Caliph and Emir are reg­u­larly used.

Other ben­e­fi­cia­ries come, among oth­ers, from the fields of nav­i­ga­tion, ar­chi­tec­ture, lit­er­a­ture and as­tron­omy.

There are many Ara­bic di­alects. Clas­si­cal Ara­bic – the lan­guage of the Qur’an – was orig­i­nally the di­alect of Mecca in what is now Saudi Ara­bia. An adapted form of this, known as Mod­ern Stan­dard Ara­bic, is used in books, news­pa­pers, on tele­vi­sion and ra­dio, in mosques, and in con­ver­sa­tion be­tween ed­u­cated Arabs from dif­fer­ent coun­tries (for ex­am­ple at in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ences).

Lo­cal di­alects vary, and a Moroc­can might have dif­fi­culty un­der­stand­ing an Iraqi, even though they speak the same lan­guage.

Some of the words be­low are bor­rowed di­rectly from Ara­bic, but most of them have taken the scenic route, through Span­ish, Ital­ian, and/ or French, or through Turk­ish, Per­sian, or Urdu, and even through He­brew or Latin. This pro­duces a good deal of phono­log­i­cal de­for­ma­tion, as does the di­alect vari­a­tion within Ara­bic.

Here are some nouns ac­com­pa­nied by a pro­nun­ci­a­tion guide and mean­ings.

1. Cipher (‘ sye-fur) – en­coded mes­sage

2. Nadir (‘ nay-deer or ‘nay-der) – low­est point

3. Loofah (‘ loo-fah) – sponge from a gourd 4. Kis­met (‘ kiz-met) – fate 5. Fakir ( fuh-‘keer or ‘faykur) – holy beg­gar

6. Macramé (‘ mack-ruh-may) –

Bai Bithaman Ajil: A con­tract to the sale of goods on a de­ferred­pay­ment ba­sis.

Ara­bic loan­words in English are words acquired di­rectly from Ara­bic or else in­di­rectly by pass­ing from Ara­bic into other lan­guages (usu­ally one or more of the Ro­mance lan­guages) and then into English. Some of these loan­words are not of an­cient Ara­bic ori­gin, but are loan­words within Ara­bic it­self, com­ing into Ara­bic from Per­sian, Greek or other lan­guages.

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