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From cupboard to pool: the "intimate relationship" of Arabic and Spanish

2022-11-30T11:10:31.293Z

Arabic, the guest language at the Guadalajara International Book Fair, is the one that has given the most words to Spanish: more than 4,000 words that enrich the language



Joan Catalina has waited an hour in line for an artist to write her name in Arabic.

We are in the pavilion that Sharjah has set up at the Guadalajara International Book Fair and dozens of people, with the patience of desert Bedouins, have lined up to take away the special memory.

When it is her turn, Joan Catalina records the artist's delicate process with her mobile phone, who dips his brushes in small glasses with green, red and black paints and shapes the beautiful symbols of Arabic calligraphy on cardboard.

When finished, Joan Catalina excitedly takes his gift and reads it: “Look”, she says, “Joan Catalina says here.

“No”, corrects her Paola Trinidad, who also already bears her name in Arabic.

"You read it wrong," she admonishes herself.

"Remember that Arabic is read backwards."

"Arabic is the language that has contributed the most lexicon to Spanish," says the linguist Concepción Company Company, emphatically, who participated in the FIL in a talk about this influence.

“It is possible that there is not a similar situation in the more than 6,000 registered languages ​​to what Arabic has with the Spanish language,” she adds.

The relationship has been so deep, he explains, that over the centuries those of us who speak the language of Cervantes have substituted Latin words —the mother of Spanish— with Arabic terms, such as 'aceituna', instead of 'olive'.

There are more than 4,000 words contributed from Arabic to Spanish, in a linguistic mixture that has given delights such as 'orange', 'tobacco' (from tubaq, “medicinal herb that numbs”), 'watermelon', 'lemon', 'artichoke' , 'carrot'... In Mexico, for example,

'pool' is used instead of swimming pool or cupboard instead of closet.

"Arabic has penetrated the most intimate world of the Spanish language," says Company.

An expert in aliphat writes words in Arabic during the FIL in Guadalajara.Roberto Antillón

The union of both languages ​​is so deep that, in comparison, the Amerindian languages ​​have contributed some 500 words to Spanish and English barely 200. We even have Arabic in our last names, as is the case with the suffix 'ez' (Fernández, for example ), which comes from the Arabic 'ibn', meaning “son of..” And although we do not understand each other now with the artists and writers who populate the Sharjah pavilion at the FIL —the small emirate is the fair's special guest— , it was your ancestors who, upon arriving in the Iberian Peninsula in the year 711, and inhabiting it for 800 centuries, left an enormous influence on the arts, architecture, science and, of course, the language we speak.

We have even taken expressions from Arabic, such as the everyday 'hopefully', or from 'Mecca to Mecca', 'God willing', 'zutano',

'mengano'… “It is an intense contact”, says Company.

"It has been a relationship of great admiration of the Castilian for the Arabic, for its refinement."

Refinement that is heard in words like 'alcázar', 'Almudena', 'Guadalupe', 'algarabía', 'albaricoque', 'alférez'.

Or the same 'Guadalajara'.

When Joan Catalina leaves the Sharjah pavilion bearing her name in Arabic, there is a great uproar in the area, with girls letting their hands be painted with delicate drawings like fake tattoos, musicians preparing to give an act or women in their long dresses and headscarves - unlike their peers, they must continue to be covered up to their ankles - in charge of the tables in the pavilion, where lively conversations in Arabic and Spanish are mixed.

"We do not realize that we are speaking with Arabisms," says Concepción Company.

“That is a sign that we have Arabic in our veins,” she says.

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Source: elparis

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