عاشوراء (Ashura)

The holiday of عاشوراء began at sundown last night. Please enjoy the post I wrote about عاشوراء last year.

Arabic Word a Day

Sundown today marked the beginning of the Islamic holiday known as Ashura or عاشوراء (ʿāshūrāʾ), notable primarily for its significance in Shiʿi religious identity. This post by Dr. Michael Collins Dunn at the Middle East Institute describes the meaning behind holiday. This is the tenth day of the month of Muharram (محرم), or in other words the tenth day of the new Islamic year, and it takes its name from the name of the Arabic numeral ۱۰ (our 10), عشر (ʿashr).

Both Sunni and Shiʿi Muslims recognize Ashura as a holiday, the provenance of which goes back to Muhammad who advised his followers to fast on this day (he identified it as the day when the Israelites escaped from Egypt). He may have intended that it would correspond to the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which is also the tenth day of the new year on…

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Meats: لحوم

Keeping with a food theme, here are Arabic words for some common meats. This is a fairly straightforward list, since as we do in English for everything except beef, Arabic uses the same vocabulary for the meat as it does for the animal it came from. I’m including a few non-halal (حلال, “permitted,” akin to “Kosher” if you like) meats, because (and this should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway) not everybody who speaks Arabic is a Muslim.

Have I missed your favorite? Leave it in comments and I’ll add it!

Meat, لَحم (laḥm):

  • Beef: لحم بَقَر (laḥm baqar, “meat of a cow”), لحم بَقَري (laḥm baqarī)
    • Hamburger: هامبرغر (hāmburghar)
    • Steak: شَريحة لحم (sharīḥat laḥm, literally “slice of meat”)
    • Veal: لحم عَجل (laḥm ʿajl)

NOTE: you can use either form (with or without that final ي) for all of these, so I’m only going to mention both forms here at the beginning

  • Chicken: لحم دَجاج (laḥm dajāj), though you may also see the Turkish طاووق (ṭāwūq) or the Egyptian colloquial فراخ (firākh)
  • Turkey: لحم ديك رومي (laḥm dīk rūmī)
  • Lamb: لحم خُروف (laḥm khurūf)
    • Mutton: لحم ضأن (laḥm ḍaʾn)
  • Goat: لحم ماعِز (laḥm māʿiz)
  • Camel: لحم إبل (laḥm ibl)

NOTE: there are a lot of different Arabic words for different kinds of camel, but إبل is the most generic and so it is best for this context.

  • Pork: لحم خَنزير (laḥm khanzīr)
    • Ham: لحم خَنزير again, or لحم خَنزير مُدَخَّن (laḥm khanzīr mudakhkhan, “smoked pork”)
  • Bacon (halal bacon can be made from turkey, beef, even fish, provided it’s prepared in the correct way): بَيكون (baykūn)
    • Pork bacon can be called لحم خنزير مُقَدَّد (laḥm khanzīr muqaddad), or “crunchy pork”
  • Sausage (again, halal sausages can be made with beef, turkey, lamb, chicken, etc.): سُجُق (sujuq, from the Turkish sucuk) or نَقانِق (naqāniq), which can also be spelled مَقانِق (maqāniq)
  • Fish: لحم سَمَك (laḥm samak)
    • Salmon: سَلمون (salmūn)
    • Tuna: تونة (tūnah)
  • Lobster: لحم كَركَند (laḥm karkand)
  • Shrimp: لحم جَمبَري (laḥm jambarī)
  • Crab: لحم سََلطَعون (laḥm salṭaʿūn)

Eid Mubarak (عيد الأضحى)

Eid al-Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice, begins tomorrow, so here is my post on the festival from last year.
عيد مبارك to those observing the festival, and Tzom Kal (צום קל, I think) to those who are observing Yom Kippur, which began tonight.

Arabic Word a Day

Today marks the second religious festival of the Islamic calendar, after the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast, عيد الفِطر (ʿīd al-fiṭr, Eid al-Fitr), that follows Ramadan. It is called the Festival of the Sacrifice, عيد الأضحى (ʿīd al-aḍḥá, Eid al-Adha), and is the more important of the two, informally known as the “Greater Eid” (عيد الكَبير, ʿīd al-kabīr).

The festival commemorates an event that should be familiar to anybody who has some knowledge of the Bible, the episode in Genesis known as the “Binding of Isaac” (Genesis 22). God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son and Abraham, understandably conflicted, ultimately chooses to obey God even at the cost of his son, only to have an angel stop him just as he’s about to kill the boy, Abraham having proved his devotion to God by his willingness to obey even such a…

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The Hajj

With the Hajj beginning today, I thought I would rerun my post on the annual pilgrimage from last year.
حج مبارك

Arabic Word a Day

Pending the observed phase of the moon (as with every other annual Islamic event, which if you recall are dated according to the lunar Hijri calendar), it appears that the Hajj for the year 1434 AH will begin either Sunday or Monday. I thought I would take the opportunity to write a post about Islamic pilgrimage in general, which you can find at my regular blog. Here we’ll talk about the Hajj and look at some relevant vocabulary. I will add some Persian and Turkish pilgrimage vocabulary as well.

The Hajj (الحَجّ) is a group pilgrimage to the city of Mecca, in the western region of Saudi Arabia known as the Hejaz (الحِجاز, al-ḥijāz). It is, with the exception of Ramadan, the central event of the Islamic calendar. Its completion is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and every able-bodied Muslim who can afford the journey is…

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Fruits: فواكه

Have I missed your favorite? Leave it in comments and I’ll add it!

Fruit, فاكهة (fākihah):

  • Apple: تُفاح (tuffāḥ, collective) or تُفاحة (tuffāḥah, specific)
  • Apricot: مِشمِش (mishmish, collective) or مِشمِشة (mishmishah, specific)
  • Avocado: أفوكادو (afūkādū)
  • Banana: موز (mūz)
  • Blackberry: تمر عليق (tamar ʿalīq) or توت اسود (tūt aswad)
  • Blueberry: عنبية (ʿanbīyah) or توت أزرق (tūt azraq)
  • Cantaloupe: شمام (shamām)
  • Cherry: كَرَز (karaz)
  • Cranberry: توت بري (tūt barrī, “wild berry”)
  • Date: تمر (tamar)
  • Fig: تين (tīn)
  • Grape: عِنَب (ʿinab), أعناب (aʿnāb, plural)
  • Grapefruit: جريب فروت (jrayp frūt)
  • Guava: جوافة (juwāfah)
  • Lemon: ليمون (līmūn)
  • Lime: ليم (līm) or ليمة (līmah)
  • Mango: مانجو (mānjū)
  • Orange: بُرتُقال (burtuqāl)
  • Nectarine: خوخ ناعم (khūkh nāʿim, “smooth peach”) or نكتارين (niktārīn)
  • Papaya: بابايا (bābāyā)
  • Peach: خَوخ (khawkh, collective), خَوخة (khawkhah, particular)
  • Pear: كمثری (kummathrī)
  • Pineapple: أناناس (anānās)
  • Plum: بَرقوق (barqūq)
  • Pomegranate: رُمان (rummān)
  • Pumpkin: يقطين (yaqtīn, could be many kinds of squash)
  • Raspberry: توت (tūt)
  • Strawberry: فراولة (farāwlah)
  • Tangerine: يوسُفي (yūsufī) or مَندَرين (mandarīn)
  • Watermelon: بطيخ (baṭṭīkh)

ISIS v. ISIL: the definitive* answer

* DISCLAIMER: there is nothing in this piece that is definitive in any way, apart from the inclusion of some literal definitions of words.

I have resisted writing this for some reason. No, wait, now I remember why; because debating the semantics of the translation of a controversial Arab extremist groups name produces writing that is either trite or downright stupid. But there’s a learning opportunity in everything, and now that I’ve hopefully sucked everybody in with a clickbait-y headline, let’s look at the words that make up our new mortal* enemy’s Arabic name (الدولة الإسلامية or الدولة الإسلامية في العراق و الشام) for vocabulary purposes:

  • دَولة (dawlah): this is often translated as “state,” but that’s not the original meaning. The root, دول (D-W-L or D-U-L — و can sound like either u or w depending on the situation) actually means something like “taking turns” or “rotating,” and the older meaning of دولة is going to be “rotation” or “change.” Its use to represent the idea of a “state” goes back to its use to describe royal dynasties and reflects a sense that any dynasty, or state, is probably temporary, and that the rise of a new dynasty reflects a “change in fortune,” which just so happens to be another possible translation of دولة. The deeper implication of دولة, though it’s not meant in this sense now, is that it’s this particular crew’s turn to run things for a while.
  • إسلامية (Islāmīyah): I don’t have to translate this one, right?

Note that the full construction الدولة الإسلامية is better pronounced “ad-dawlat al-islaameeyah,” because the letter ة (“taa marbuta” is the name of the letter, which is the grammatical feminine marker and only appears at the end of a word) is usually unpronounced (and can be represented by a silent ‘h’ or left out altogether in English transliteration — I opt for the ‘h’) when it comes at the end of a grammatical construct, but when it occurs in the middle of a construct (like here, in a noun-adjective pairing, or like in a possessive), it usually takes a ‘t’ sound and is transliterated accordingly. So الدولة is al-dawlat here because it’s followed immediately by its adjective, but الإسلامية remains al-Islāmīyah because it ends the phrase.

Anyway, if we’re going by what the group calls itself, we can stop here, with “The Islamic State.” I tend to use this in another place because it’s easier and avoids the ambiguity we’re going to encounter in a couple more words, but I can understand why the government and most media haven’t adopted it, because calling it “The Islamic State” does bestow some added legitimacy on the group that they probably don’t deserve. So we continue: Continue reading