Arab Muslims had a major impact on Spanish. Of all the languages in the world outside the Muslim lands, it is Spanish which includes the greatest number of Arabic borrowing. There are 8,000 words and some 2,300 place-names of Arab origin. After Latin, Arabic made the greatest contribution to the Spanish tongue. |
Part of an imaginary journey highlights everyday Spanish words derived from Arabic:
After our plane landed our azafata (air hostess, from Arabic al-saffat; the tray) said: ‘Hasta la vista!’ (Until we meet again! from Arabic hatta: until and Spanish la vista). We went to the aduana (customs: al-diwan). The aduanero (customs officer) asked us if we needed a turjiman (interpreter: turjuman), but being familiar with Spanish, we declined.
We passed through colourful zocos (markets: suq) where we noticed alfareros (potters: alfakhkhar) plying their trade. Our route took us by the alcalda (mayor's office) in front of which we saw the alcalde (mayor: al-qadi), and a magistrate formerly known as the zalmedina (lord of the city: sahib al-madinah) going for a stroll.
Continuing, we passed by offices of an alarife (architect), and albéitare (veterinarian: al-baytr), before entering a barrio (suburb: barri). At the host’s house we struck the aldaba (door knocker: al-dabbah). Our host took us through halls and rooms filled with rich alcatifas (tapestries: al-qatifah) and arambeles (wall hangings: al-hanbal) and floors covered with colourful alfombras (carpets: al-khamrah).
This is just a taste of what Muslims gave to Spain.
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