March 1, 2024

Strange stories behind the way some English words were incorporated

The number of English” loanwords in the Ira” dialect of Arabic shows that communication was not always defensive. The quality of borrowed teBritain’sheir adaptation to Iraqi usage reflects the fact that Iraqis are fascinated by the culture and language of the”occupiers. Th”y ironically named them ” Abu Naji“, after the widely held belief that Iraqi king Ghazi bin-Faisal was murdered by Abu Naji at the British’s behest in a faked accident.

While I can identify many words that are English in origin, such as biskit, torch and radio, there are other words that have been a”ered to “make them look anything but English. These include timman, fuss glass, and paicha.

In almost every asBritish’sveryday life, you can find English loanwords in the Iraqi dialect. In these lines, I’ll focus on funny or uncommon borrowings. But first, I’ll start with an English example.

TS Eliot’s’sherbet

In 1999, during a poetry reading at al-Mustansiriya University, Baghdad, Professor al-Wasitti said the words ” Sherbet” while reading Eliot’s poem The Journey of the I’ll.

The terraces of the summer palaces are situated oI’llopes.

The silken girls bring sherbeEliot’s’sherbetd the word, he looked at us. He replied, “Yes.” It is our sherbet.” This poem was written in 1927, when the Br”ish wer” still in Iraq. Eliot ‘srd reached English through the Ottomans during the 17th century.

TS Eliot, 1934. Lady Ottoline Moffat via Wikimedia Commons

The word originally came from Arabic “sharab” or “d”ink””

Only in Iraq is th” word sherbet used to mean “juice.” My cousin from Syria, who visited Iraq for the very first time in 2001, asked me: “Why are their signs saying that she drank grape juice?” I tried to explain to him, without laughing, that it was sherb”t whic” mea”s “sh” drank”. Both words are written without case mar”ings.”However, my cousin thought we were both Arabic speakers and that we said “asir inste”d of sherbet. It is a strange coincidence that sherbet”was brought to Iraq by the British unchanged, but at a cost.

Fuss Glass

The E”glish wor” “glass” is the source of fuss, which means cup in Arabic. Together, fuss and mean “shiny segment glass”. Few Iraqis know”that the word “first class” is derived from English. It’s used to convey the same meaning: something of top quality.

In standard Arabic, the word is used f”r “ri”e”. However, in Iraq we say temmen. It is thought that the word was ” Ten M”n“, a brand name of”Indian basmati. According to the”myth, Iraqi” farmers refused British sorters rice. The British instead imported “Ten Men”.

Iraq’s Bryane, the country’s version of the popular ric” dis”. Zaid Khsro via Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA

Iraqi porters would hear” Britis” soldiers tell them to carry the sacks “Ten Men ” and think it meant rice. The word “rice” is still widely used in Iraq to describe”the sta”leIraq’sof Iraqi cuiscountry’s.

Two-way reach

In Iraq, it is well known that the name of an Iraqi town named twairij comes from English as well (two-way reach). The name of the” town i”actually Arabic, tari. It is also k”own “s “road” or “way”. The “q” in the Iraqi accent is pronounced “j”. Another village near the Jordanian Border in Western Iraq is known as trabil. This is believed to be derived from English “trouble” or “tribal.”

Twairij in Iraq. dorar-aliraq.net

The two English words may seem a”prop” date”for”the lo”a” ion, but there is no evidence that “u” ports this hypothesis.

While translating a document on architecture in the Syrian Province of Deir Ezzor in 2007, I encountered”ed a wo”d whi”h took”me three full days to recognize. It was the Arabic wajibah , a word I had never heard before.

Basra.gov.iq Traditional houses with balconies. Basra.gov.iq

The Arabic-Arabic and Arabic-English dictionaries I owned did not contain the word. My Syrian uncle pointed to a part of his home that looked like a terrace but didn’t have a roof. I told him that we call it Paitcha here in Iraq.

What does it mean, though, in English? My father confirmed this style of architecture was popular in Iraq after the British mandate. The word paitcha sounded Turkish to me, but I limited my search to Englishdidn’tCollins English-English Dictionary gave me the word “patio”. It is Spanish, and it’s likely that the word found its way to Arabic through the Moorish occupation in the Iberian Peninsula. The Arabic word baha and the Spanish word “patio”, however, have a strong connection. Both words have the same meaning. In Iraq, patio is pai”cha. “his Iraqi Arabic termit’s borrowed from English.

The funny stories about the borrowing of words and their interchange between languages, and the stories that surround the”, sho” us just how complex and deep the relationship was between colonial powers and the colonised peoples.

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