March 20 is French Language Day, a day when the French Language is celebrated and veneered. Known as the language of love, it is widely adored and spoken in more than 25 countries and in different dialects as well. What’s even more interesting is how the French language was actually influenced by many other languages. Did you know that there are some French words that are actually derived from Arabic? So we plan to celebrate French language day in Arab fashion by putting together French words that originated from the Arabic language.
Way back during the 11th Century, during the Crusade one term was picked up “amir el bahr” (commander of the seas or ship captain). From there, Sicilians, Genoiese, French and Spanish ended up taking the first two parts of “amir el bahr” and used them as one word, “amiral”.
The French word “mesquin” sounds very familiar because It comes from the Arabic word “meskeen” which means poor or helpless in Arabic. When it comes to the French language, the meaning of the word “mesquin” is very different from its Arabic origins as it actually means petty, stingy and mean.
Everyone’s favorite summer or winter staple, the infamous skirt translates to “jupe” in French but when It comes to its origins, it is actually derived from the Arabic word “jubba” which Egyptians later changed into the word “jeeba”.
In French, “chiffre” refers to any digit, figure or number but when it comes to its origins, its meaning takes a slight change. “Chiffre” originates from the Arabic word “sifr” which means zero in English.
The world would be a sad place without sugar, everyone’s adored sweet ingredient, essential in any dessert. When taking this word and translating it into French it would be “sucre” but if we take a look at the origins of the word, we’d first notice how it was borrowed from the Italian word “zucchero” which came from the Arabic word “sukkar”, meaning sugar.
They have acted as the foundation of our buildings and world’s structures for years and overtime, we’ve come to know them as bricks. In French, bricks are referred to as “adobe” which was actually derived from the Spanish word “adobe.” Tracing the word’s origins even further, “adobe” was taken from the Arabic word “al tub”.
Whether it is in royal families or any family out there, there are always successors or descendants. The French word to describe both these words is “calife” which traces its origins back to the Arabic word “khalifa”. this word means successor, or descendant in French.
All these examples barely scratch the surface and showcase the power of the interchange of language over the years. In the Arab world, we ourselves have done the opposite and seeped French words into our own language. Some great examples include the Arabic word “dosh” (shower) derived from the French word “douche” or the word “fesha” meaning electricity plug that was derived from the French word “fiche”. It’s amazing how languages affect each other and have the capacity to create new forms of expression on a daily basis.