Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Allah Willing"?

by Edd Doerr

A Malaysian court ruled last October that non-Muslims may not use the Arabic word "Allah" to refer to "God". Now that might  be a problem for tourists in Maylasia from Spanish speaking lands. The reason, you see, is that one of the most common words in Spanish is "ojala" (which is pronounced
 "oh-hah-LA", accent on the last syllable), meaning "Allah willing" or "God willing". Spanish also uses the expression "si Dios quiere" (if God wills). "Ojala" entered  Spanish (as  did very similar words in Portuguese and Maltese) during the centuries of Muslim occupation.

While  Spanish evolved from common on vulgar Latin, the Arab years of occupation added to the Spanish vocabulary such words as "admiral" and "camisa" (shirt), words for water management, a great many names of places and rivers (Cordoba, Quadalquivir, etc), and names for items unknown previously in Europe, such as cotton and various plant foods.

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