Arabic influence on English language

The English language is a complex, flexible and highly expressive one. It is constantly changing, responding to the world around it and absorbing elements from every other language and culture that it comes into contact with. English has absorbed Arabic influences not only through contact with the Moorish of Spain but also through soldiers returning home from the Crusades and trading links with the Arab world.

Many words used in astrology and alchemy have their roots in Arabic because the Arabic world was at the forefront of these disciplines. It would probably surprise you to find out just how many English words have their origins in Arabic.

People who speak English do not realize that some of the time they are also speaking Arabic. There are perhaps as many as 10,000 words derived from Arabic. Words like alcohol, algebra, algorithm, almanac, banana, caliber, guitar, lemon, mattress, pie, tulip – and that is just a few.

A lot of this influence on languages took place between the 8th and 12th centuries as the Islamic Empire expanded into the Mediterranean. Even today words like kebab, couscous, falafel and hummus are beginning to find their way into English dictionaries.

For 1000 years, Arabic was the primary international language of commerce, scholarship and politics, much as English is in today’s world. In fact, over the centuries English adopted many words that were either borrowed directly from Arabic, or were absorbed indirectly through other languages, especially Spanish.

[اللغة العربية]

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