Friday, May 19, 2006

Arabized English

I enjoy trying to figure out the roots of commonly used words in Jordan. It started when I was at school, when fellow students were extolling the virtues of a car called a Jimce. I never really knew that they were talking about until I was standing at a red light one day (many years later), looking at a GMC truck. Gee Em See. Read as one word it is Jimce. Wow. That is what they were talking about!

Young army recruits used to be transported in trucks called Kontintals. Only latter I learned that Kontintal is actually an Arabized form of the word Continental. The army folks use many English words which were inherited from the time of Glubb Pasha. These include foteeck (fatigues), jerikan (Gerry Can), munawara (maneuver) and tarmeej (from the verb Rammaja, retirement of age).

There are many words that are less than obviously of English origin. Here are some of my favorites, from the more obvious to the less:

  1. Benshar (flat tire): Puncture.
  2. Baleh. Used or unsold clothes. These come in bales (note that transliterating does not occur correctly if you don’t know proper pronunciation. Thus the silent e at the end of bale gains a sound, thus baleh.
  3. Stokat (plural of stock, unsold merchandise, particularly clothes).
  4. Lumbah. Lamp.
  5. Bugjeh. Package.
  6. Qit. Cat.
  7. Shilin (shilling; an old English monetary denomination).
  8. Ta'ariefeh. Tariff.
  9. Rutoush: Retouch.
  10. Kazoz (aerated soft drink). Actually, a gaseous drink.
  11. My all time favorite. Balgham. Transliterated from phlegm (pronounced flem).

Sorry for the silliness.

30 Comments:

At 9:39 PM, Blogger salam said...

some rather new terms:
fannashet:I finished
vawwadet:I made it void
shyyaket:I checked
cansalet:I cancelled
and my favorite:mdapress:depressed!

 
At 10:10 PM, Blogger Roba said...

Silliness? :P I think this topic is one of the most fascinating things in the world, especially when dealing with newer terminology which different generations just do not understand, such as "Mdaprasseh" (I'm depressed), "Sayavet" (I just saved).
Oh, I just realized Salam is aware of them- so it's not a generation thing any longer!
It's fascinating.

 
At 10:15 PM, Blogger salam said...

Hey Roba,are you implying I am from an older generation?12 year age difference don't qualify as a generation..za3alteeni:(

 
At 10:19 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Salam: Thanks for the additions. Mdapreseh is new to me, although if I had heard it I probably would have figured it out.

Roba: Ta'ariefeh is a fascinating case, because it is an English word with an Arabic root. The final meaning (a five fils coin) is different from the original Arabic word.

 
At 11:31 PM, Anonymous Ohoud said...

A very interesting video depitecting this was shown by the Royal film comission on Jordan T.V.

Here's the link to the movie, called "Arabizi"

http://www.film.jo/pages.php?menu_id=160

Its 25 minuits, I found it quite successfull!

 
At 11:48 PM, Anonymous bakkouz said...

yes, i agree with khalaf, what i know is that Tariff is derived from Ta'rifah not the othe way around... If i am not mistaken that is.

 
At 11:53 PM, Anonymous Khalidah said...

Silliness?
Come on Khalaf, this is a great post and I agree with the girls ..

Salam, you are right .. this age difference does not qualify as a whole generation gap .. Roba .. we are good friends and get along despite this difference as I am the same age as Salam :)

some of the terms to add on your list:

tmaknaket: worked in mechanics
makina: machine
disbarator: distributer
bakaks: back axe
mkandash: has Air Conditioning
msastam: working according to a system
atmaskar: apply maskara
makyage: make up
atmakyaj: wear makeup
manakeer: manicure

If I remember anything else .. I will add them :D

 
At 1:28 AM, Anonymous Batir Wardam said...

This is a great post Khalaf. For the first time I related Bugjeh with package. I think there are many more "treasures" to be found. I will try to list them and add another "bugjeh" of words to this post!

 
At 2:13 AM, Blogger Arrabi said...

Salam Khalaf,
by the way, some of the words you've mentioned come actually from Formal Arabic and not English:
1- Qit: is the formal arabic name for Cat and it comes from the ancient Arabic name for Fox. Check Lesan Al-3arab at (http://www.alwaraq.net). This dictionary was written around 1200AD, which PREDATES old english by 300-400 years. To your credit, the dictionary does say that some think that this word is not Arabic originally (e.g. it was borrowed to Arabic around 1500-2000 years ago).

2- Bogjeh: This comes from an ancient formal Arabic word "Boqjah", which is often used in ancient Arabic texts to describe a bunch of clothes wrapped together. Ibn Khaldoun used it in his "Muqademah" book, which was written in 1380AD - again, preadting English.

3- Balgham: This is also an ancient Arabic Medical term which is also listed in Lisan Al-Arab (again, you can confirm by searching alwaraq.net website). Its use by Arabic doctors predates the language of English. I won't be surprised if the European Languages took it from us during our golden age.

As for the rest, I think it's true and very funny :-) keep in mind that many of these terms were taken from French & German and not just English (e.g. Kazoz).

 
At 3:05 AM, Anonymous rami said...

Khalaf:

Makeena: from Italian (same pronounciation)

Baranda: Veranda

Banyo: from french, twist your tongue enough and maintain the pronounciation.

Dush: from Douche, in french.

Kanabayeh: from Canape in french.

Wanait (pick-up truck in Saudi): 1-8 = 1.8 liters.

...etc.

Many of those words entered the Arab language at stages, first it was Italian imports that had no arabic alternative names, then French imports, and now Anglo-Saxon influence. There are no Japanese words even though we import much from them (well, except for Toyota Diana maybe :) ).

 
At 3:13 AM, Anonymous rami said...

...and kazoz from kazoza in Italian :)

 
At 3:59 AM, Blogger moi said...

I enjoyed reading this as I didn't know some of these words had different origins (like benshar!). It's interesting to note that most of these are used in "slang" Arabic, not classical, right?

And omg Salam, Jordanians say "mdapresseh"??!!! I'm going to be on the look out for these next time I'm in Jordan, lol. Some of the ones you mentioned remind me of the way Arab Americans speak here (esp the older ones who weren't born and raised here). Like "barraket" meaning "i parked" and some others I can't remember at the moment.

 
At 5:43 AM, Blogger issam said...

funny. In the States, Arab Americans use a lot of verbs in Arabic fashion:
Beraket the car: I Parked the car
Kaloudat: The weather is cloudyt
My favourite is that they call each others cousins. They always say walahi ya cousin.As ya ebin Alam.

 
At 6:48 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Khalidah: LOL girl. I think you need a new car!

Ohoud: Thanks for the link to the movie. I think it was quite funny, although the sound quality could be better.

Arrabi: Thanks for the info. I found it fascinating, especially the Qit and Balgham ones. As in ta'arifeh, these words have probably migrating through the language in more than one stage.

Batir, Rami, Moi and Issam: Thanks!

 
At 7:11 AM, Blogger Jason said...

Nice post. Tariff definately comes from Arabic into English as do a number of other financial terms, such as check (suk). Maybe they come back into the original langauge with a slightly transformed meaning.

Another cool term is the English magazine (as in a place of storage) which comes from the Arabic "makhzan", usually used in English as a military term. There are tons of these but I can't remember them now.

Language shows how cultures generally don't clash but actually interact and influence each other. I remember in grad school reading a peice about a Spanish Christian guy in the Middle Ages complaining because all the youth of his day were neglecting their "native" Latin in favor of studying Arabic, and the overall superiority of materials and learning in Arabic at the time.

Little gems like this show the bankruptcy of linguistic and cultural purists. Thanks for bringing this up.

 
At 12:06 PM, Blogger Rambling Hal said...

This was a great post, I loved reading all those words! But makyage is not from make up, it's from maquillage, in French.

I tried to think of my own words to add to the list, but forget it, I didn't know half of the ones that were already there!

 
At 8:04 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Jason: Thanks for the comment. I am glad I wrote this post simply because I have learnt so much from the feedback. I agree that attempting to enforce linguistic purity is both silly and futile.

Hal: Welcome back.

 
At 1:43 AM, Anonymous Rami said...

I think someone should collate all the nouns/vocabs of non-Arabic origin into a booklet. It will be an eye opened to users of the language.

 
At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Rebecca said...

One of my favorites is
Telflooni = call me

 
At 10:31 PM, Blogger Ziad said...

The other day I was talking to a Jordanian friend in Arabic, and I said something that contained the word "hills" as in تلال.

He looked at me and said: "what is hilal?!" I said: "what do you mean what is hilal?! HILAL! (with wavy hand gesturing) HILAL! Hilaaaa.... and then I realized what had happened inside my brain, and we both laughed our hearts out :)

 
At 10:50 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Ziad: Good one. I hope that this only happens after a few beers.

 
At 10:37 PM, Blogger etlamatey said...

Talking about Arabized English, let me ask you a question about Anglisized Arbi. I saw on wikipedia that the Arbi name for Jordan is Al-Mamlakah al-Urdunniyyah al-Hāšimiyyah. Does it mean that native Jordanians call their own country "Urdunn" instead of "Jordan" ('J' as in James)? Please enlighten.

 
At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Lotfy said...

This is fantastic to read, well people while the colonization time, mixed and they were kinda ignorant and this is something true, ottoman soldiers came and they somehow prohibited knowledge, moreover we have gained some cultural habits from them including words, i just like to post some words i dug for before:

rondella: Roundel
forseeling: false ceiling
kobbayeh: Cup
snobarsat: snooper set (just lol)
ajans: agency
komision: commission
okazyon: occasion
wanait (ksa): toyota pick up 1800 cc in the dark ages of seventies one eight --> wanait
this is what i recall for now,
if someone knows the meaning of the word ( ebsar, absar ) ebsar shu beddo... just post it, um digging for it years ago o ebsar shu ma3naha :)

Lithium

 
At 8:56 AM, Anonymous tommy said...

Balgham: This is also an ancient Arabic Medical term which is also listed in Lisan Al-Arab (again, you can confirm by searching alwaraq.net website). Its use by Arabic doctors predates the language of English. I won't be surprised if the European Languages took it from us during our golden age.

The English comes from the Greek: phlegma (related to the word flame). It arrived in English via Greek --> Latin --> French --> English. It is possible the Arabic word comes from the Greek also.

 
At 5:03 PM, Blogger Hiba said...

Great post! I am coming in a little late in this conversation, but what about vegetables and fruits? I think bandora is from the Italian pomodoro but what about artichoke? is it taken from the Arabic? anyone know?

 
At 11:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice post. I really enjoy studying language interactions. However, i think that some of them were made based on guessing.

Other people have commented on the incorrect linkage. Such as Qit to Cat and so on.

Oh well....

 
At 4:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

did someone want the meaning to ABSAR... i've found this somewhere.. let me know ehat you think... (fauzia)

The key to understanding the true import of this verse is the first utterance: Tell the believing women to lower their eyes. These words are rhetorically repeated here from the preceding verse 30: “Tell the believing men to lower their eyes.” Bar none, both sexes are asked to cast down the gaze or glance. Modesty, then, resides in the mind. All other external accoutrements suggested by the Quran are subservient to this inner, mental activity.

This is further reinforced by the adverbial clause: min absari. The verbal, absar comes from basira meaning the power of mental perception, discernment, clear thinking, etc. Therefore, the clause, min absari, appended to the lowering gaze action should mean that both men and women are asked by the Quran to divert our gaze from what is before their eyes and turn inward to inner discernment.

 
At 4:55 PM, Anonymous fauzia said...

did someone want the meaning of ABSAR??? i found this whilst browsing for it myself... Let me know what you think. (Fauzia)

The key to understanding the true import of this verse is the first utterance: Tell the believing women to lower their eyes. These words are rhetorically repeated here from the preceding verse 30: “Tell the believing men to lower their eyes.” Bar none, both sexes are asked to cast down the gaze or glance. Modesty, then, resides in the mind. All other external accoutrements suggested by the Quran are subservient to this inner, mental activity.

This is further reinforced by the adverbial clause: min absari. The verbal, absar comes from basira meaning the power of mental perception, discernment, clear thinking, etc. Therefore, the clause, min absari, appended to the lowering gaze action should mean that both men and women are asked by the Quran to divert our gaze from what is before their eyes and turn inward to inner discernment.

 
At 7:13 PM, Blogger Caught in the middle said...

Nice post! I enjoyed all the english arabic derivatives you established.... I think you just about covered all the ones I know in addition to many I do not...
There's el-bakaks el amami (translated to the front back axe: this one was printed in the driver's ed manual when I applied for my license.. not sure if the fixed it!) There's one I remember from geography when we were kids: an area called "el-jfour" (thats what it was called in the Jordanian textbook) somewhere in the desert (between jordan and KSA??? Geography was not my strongest subject so forgive me if I'm wrong abt the exact location...) Later I learned that el-jfour is really "H4" !!! It turns out that when foreign oil companies established themselves in the oil industries they named the pipelines passing through the area H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, etc... Hence el-jfour is the area where the H4 passes thru! I thought that was pretty interesting when I figured it out....

link to a blog i wrote that is semi relevant to yours about the whole "Ammani situation" :
http://taleofaderangedcity.blogspot.com/2008/09/invasion-of-snobs.html

 
At 3:07 AM, Blogger Amina said...

I am enjoying reading this, is it called a blog? Anyway, 'ibsar' I think would be from tabassar, you know like bassarah. Here it would mean wonder. That's my take.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home