15 December 2008

Origins of words Checkmate

... and other such word origins.

Reading this makes me sad as to the state of the area today. It was once the height of progress and development. Sigh! This is what people with imaginary metal detectors do to a country.

The article in question is from Take Our World For It: How to Speak Arabic and Not Know It.

I knew there were quite a number of English words that were derived from Arabic (through other European languages, etc.) but I am honestly surprised by other Arabic language influences.

Coffee, mocha and sugar are examples of borrowed words. Well, they have been anglicized over time.

Zero comes from the Arabic sifr, meaning “empty” as the symbol for "zero" represents an "empty" place in the positional notation. Some scholars believe that sifr comes from the Sanskrit shunya, "empty" as the Arabs did not invent their numerals, they borrowed them from the Indians. But, to be fair, the Indians got the idea from the Babylonians so we end up back in Iraq. Even closer to sifr in sound is cipher (which has two meanings: "a code" and "zero") and the French verb chiffre, "quantify".

Check out the full article; it is fascinating to say the least.