The Contribution Of Arabic – Arabic Influence On Spanish Words

Dina Sarayra
Arab culture

Hey you! Did you know that there are words in the Spanish language that are of Arabic origins? Spanish and Arabic have many similarities and it can help you learn Arabic language as well as Spanish. There are many Spanish words with Arabic influence or derived from Arabic, ranging from food items, to animals and even verbs!

The History

In 711AD, Muslims conquered Spain, or what was then known as Hispania. Andalusian Arabic is the Spanish dialect that has many Arabic words. It is spoken in the south of Spain. The ‘Moors’, or the Muslims brought about the Arabic language from the Middle east and North Africa. This area is also known as the Arab world.

They are Arabic-speaking countries. The Arab culture is very rich and there are many different Arabic speakers around the world who speak different dialects of Arabic. This means that even the Arabic vocabulary can be different from country to country. However, there are some Spanish and Arabic similarities.

Examples of This Combination

Some Spanish words derived from Arabic are azucar, aciete, and atun. All of these are food items. In Arabic, they are respectively al-sukkar, al-zayt, al-tun. You might notice something here! The article al in Arabic has been reduced to a in the Spanish words. They also almost sound the same! Do you see it? That is one example of the Arabic influence on Spanish language.

There are some more examples.

Let’s look at nature and animals! For example, alqutun is qutn in Arabic. Jirafa in Spanish is zurafah in Arabic. Jabali is gabali in Arabic. There are many more Spanish to Arabic words in different areas of language. For example, even in grammar! Some Spanish words with Arabic origin are hasta which is hatta in Arabic. This means until in English. Ojala comes from law sha’ Allah in Arabic, meaning God willing.

An Overall Idea

Linguists predict that around 8% of the Spanish language is or has some Arabic origin. Of course, it is inevitable for the Spanish not to borrow some Arabic words.

After all, the Muslim conquest lasted for around 780 years! Some every day words such as alcohol, chemistry andalgebra are of Arabic origin as well. They are Kuhl, Al Kimiya and Al Jabr in Arabic. These words were not only borrowed by Spanish speakers, but by English speakers as well.

This is mainly due to the fact that it was through the research and knowledge of the Arabs that they learned about that. Another example is the number digit which is written as cifra in Spanish and pronounced thifra phonetically. This comes from the Arabic word for zero pronounced as sifr.

Very close, huh? All these words only show how much these two languages intertwined due to the conquest and how one had so much influence on the other. There are even Spanish names with Arabic origin. Some Arabic Spanish names are Zayda, Banu Qasi and Ibn Ferro.

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