In my humble attempts to learn Arabic, I have discovered that there are many words in Spanish that actually come from it. And to my relief, I am not the only Spanish speaking person who doesn’t get Arabic (indeed, the Spanish word “Algarabía”, which means incomprehensible talk comes from “al-'Arabiya”, which basically means "Arabic").
NB: (By the way, as I write this, I realize that this blog post will probably not mean much to my readers who do not speak Spanish, but if you are willing to take my word for it, there ARE loads of words in Spanish that come from Arabic).
NB2: If you want more serious explanation of the influence of Arabic in Spanish, just click here.
As I was saying: there are tons of words in Spanish that come from Arabic, many of which I could have sworn were nothing but “Mexicanisms”. Never mind the obvious words, like "Guadalajara"- the name of a city (it also means river of stones)- or "babucha", a sort of slipper that comes originally from Morocco, and that us Mexicans use to refer to any kind of Arabic-looking shoe. (On a side note:
there’s even a saying in Mexico “Sacate las Babuchas!” that I have no idea where it comes from, but basically it means you are very surprised).
I have made some fascinating findings with last names. I was in Morocco recently and came across a certain Mr. Bargash. I could not believe this, as “Vargas” is a very common family name in Mexico. The other surprise was when, over coffee, a friend told me that she had found out that the common last name “Reyes” actually comes from Arabic as well. You see, in Arabic, the word “Ras” (plural Reis) means head, boss or king. Well, guess how you say king in Spanish? “Rey”.
The other ones that I like are articles of clothing. “Bantaloun” for “Pantalon” (pants), “Qamis” for “Camisa” (shirt), “Qalcet” for “Calcetines” (socks), “Sobat” for “Zapato” (shoes). I also love the ones that have to do with food: “Zeitun” for “Aceituna” (olive), coming obviously from “Zeit” or “Aceite” (oil), “Zukkar for “Azucar” (sugar), the color “Zafra”, that means yellow, and where the word “Azafran” (saffron) comes from. And finally you have places in the house, such as “Assutáyha” for “azotea” (roof), or “Al-qubba” for “Alcoba” (room).
But my all time favorite is “al qawwad” (the messenger) which gives the word “Alcahuete” (accomplice in a love affair).
I wonder what my Mum will tell me when I go back home, and I start asking for “Zeitunas”, or I say I am going to my “Alqubba”, or if I tell her I like her “Sobatos”… She will tell me “ You are loca!” (which comes from “lawqa").
PS: please note that my “spelling” with the words in Arabic might not be correct, as I am reproducing them phonetically.