28 abr 2017

Spanish and Arabic - More Similar Than They Appear

Spain has a fascinating history, full of twists and turns – for example, did you know that Madrid wasn’t always the capital city? Both Valladoid and Toledo have played their part as the centre of the country – it is hard to imagine Madrid as the small town it was hundreds of years ago!

The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba
You may have heard references to “Moorish Spain” or “Al-Andalus” – the period from 711 to 1492, when what is today most of Spain and Portugal was a medieval Muslim territory. Given that Spain was under Muslim influence for so long, it is no wonder it's left its mark on Spanish culture and language. Some of the most famous Spanish landmarks are pieces of Arab architecture, such as the Alhambra palace in Granada, or the Mosque Cathedral of Córdoba. Most of all, the Muslim rule over Spain influenced the Spanish language greatly. Here we take a look at some Spanish words with an Arabic root – you may be surprised at just how similar they are!

Algodón (Spanish Arabic – alqutún)

Almohada (Spanish Arabic – almuhádda)

Azúcar (Spanish Arabic – assúkkar)

Do you notice something all these words have in common? They all begin with a- or al-, which are articles in Arabic – like “el” and “la” in Spanish. They were kept as part of the word when they were introduced into Spanish.

Here are some more:

Limón (Spanish Arabic – lamún)

Barrio (Spanish Arabic – barrí)

Ojalá (Spanish Arabic – law šá lláh) – This word is possibly the most recognizable to modern Arabic speakers, as it originates from the phrase “Insha'Allah”, meaning  “God willing/If God wills it”.

In fact, even Arabic nowadays is much more similar than you may think! Take a look below at the video of a Spanish and Arabic speaker saying the same words in their native languages!

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