The contribution of Arabic to Spanish
By José Benzaquen / Ambassador of Peru
For many centuries, the Middle East has been and continues to be a place where both its people and its cultures leave a living imprint on the rest of the world. In this case, we will discuss the importance of the Arabic language and its reflection on Western Europe.
According to many historians, the Arabic language was part of the European world during the Middle Ages in the Balkans, southern Italy, Portugal and Spain.
Arab culture and Muslim influence in the Iberian Peninsula have mainly had a significant and prolonged permanence in the architecture of many historical monuments; enriched by the Arabic language, leaving thousands of words easily traced.
Arabic was a major vehicle of culture in Europe, especially in science, mathematics and philosophy. As a result, many European languages also borrowed many words from him. The Arabic influence, mainly in vocabulary, is visible in European languages - mainly Spanish and to a lesser extent Portuguese, Catalan and Sicilian – due to both the proximity to European Christian and Arab Muslim civilizations. and the long-standing presence of Arabic culture and language, mainly in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, during the time of Al-Andalus.
Since 1973, Arabic has officially become an official United Nations language joining Spanish, English, Chinese, Russian and the French language. Arabic is a Semitic language that first appeared between the 1st and 4th centuries CE. It is a language that has more than 30 dialects from different Arabic-speaking countries.
The Arabic language is estimated to consist of 12 minutes of words, with outstanding language academies such as Cairo, Egypt, established in 1934; in Damascus, Syria since 1919; and in Khartoum, Sudan and Mogadishu as well as Fez, Morocco. There are 280 million Arabic speakers in 33 countries and a large majority (20) as an official language.
Due to the aforementioned Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula in the 7th century, the province of Al-Andalus and then the Caliphate of Cordoba were created. The presence was very important in cities like Malaga, Granada, Cordoba, Alicante and the islands of Menorca and Mallorca. They had a library in Cordoba which was the source of inspiration to translate the work of Aristotle and Plato. In addition to the library, one of the most famous examples of Arab-Muslim influence is the Great Mosque of Cordoba, which is now a Catholic cathedral.
Due to the great influence of Arabic on the Spanish vocabulary, many Spanish words are derived from other Arabic words; some words have the same meaning but consist of a different accent or mode of pronunciation. The letters “AL” for example, are used in most Arabic words with the definite article meaning “The”. Found until today in several Spanish surnames such as Alcalá, Alfaro, Almodóvar, Almaraz, Alcantara, Alcaraz, Alerce, Almagro, Almeida, Alfares and Almirante, etc.
On the other hand, Arabic words also have a significant influence in agricultural vocabulary. For example: azafrán (saffron), azahar (orange blossom), azucenas (lily), algodón (cotton), alerce (larch), ajorca (ankle), aljibe (cistern), alberca (water reservoir), albaricoque (apricot), limón (lemon), acelga (chard) and alcachofas (artichokes). In addition, the classical Arabic word sukkar and the Hispano-Arabic assúkkar gave rise to azúcar (sugar).
Due to the history of the occupation, several other contexts also have Arabisms – words relating to the military: aljaba (quiver), aceifas (harvest), atalaya (watchtower), zaga (rear) and alcazabas ( citadels); and scientific terminology: algoritmo (algorithm), álcali (alkali), álgebra (algebra), cifra (number) and alquimia (alchemy).
Thus, the relationship of Arabic with the Spanish language is a situation of two languages which coexist and are delimited in certain fields.
On the other hand, it should be mentioned that since the middle of the last century, the Arabic language has started a process of expansion globally and in many countries. Communication is extended with this ancient language; not to mention other languages, such as English, Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, and French, which have historically been present in the world for many centuries.
The importance of the Arabic language lies in its strong and fundamental relationship with a planetary religion, Islam.
The Arab presence that we have in our country, Peru, which is represented in our capital, Lima, with the “Club Unión Árabe Palestino”, whose objective is to keep the culture of their ancestors latent, as well as many missions diplomatic, in the one that stands out, the Qatari embassy dates back to the many Arab migrations to America at the end of the 19th century, mainly from Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.
It should also be pointed out that the Arab world has taken its part in spreading its culture and artistic talents through its music, arts and literature in which certain Arabic words have been adapted in several fields.
According to the professor of general linguistics at the University of Jordan, Ziyad Mohamed Gogazeh, Arabic and Spanish may have their differences, but they also have many similarities.
There is no doubt that the Arab impact on Spain made it the leading country in Europe for many centuries. Arabic not only spread due to the arrival of Arabs around the world but the introduction of Arabic also dates back to the introduction of Islam and its presence in the Iberian Peninsula wearing a superior .
The language of the desert men has conquered the world and made its mark among many nations. This advanced culture of the Arab people which I have personally witnessed and which I still witness in Qatar demonstrates the development and importance of such a powerful means of communication: the Arabic language.