Young people across the Rhine use more and more Arabic words, without necessarily knowing what they mean precisely. In “Der Spiegel”, this Syrian columnist returns to the beauty of the most commonly used expressions and what they say, in passing, about Arab culture.
Almost all languages have borrowed words from others during their evolution. The Germans talk about Fast food and of Management [en allemand, tous les substantifs s’écrivent avec une majuscule]the English use the German words angst [angoisse], kitsch or kindergarten [jardin d’enfants]. Boulevard is even a double loan which shuttled between France and Germany.
In Arabic, apart from beer [bière] and of bagger [pelleteuse], words borrowed from the language of Goethe are rather rare. Probably because Germany has no colonial past in the Middle East.
The Germans, on the other hand, have been using for a long time, unwittingly, words that come from Arabic. No doubt you sense that the words coffee [café] And Schach [échec] are from the Orient. But did you know that terms like Zucker [sucre] And alcohol [alcool] come from Arabic? Even words like Ziffer [chiffre], Sofa [canapé] And Matratze [matelas] were borrowed from my ancestors.
With the waves of migration, new Arabic terms have appeared in use in recent years, especially among young people. That’s why I’d like to highlight some of them here – and the beauty of the concepts they cover.
The fear of asking how we are
I realized that many people knew the Arabic expression Al Hamdulillah. The Germans gladly use it when speaking with a person of Arab origin. They even throw it at us sometimes when Gerd [coauteur de cette chronique] and I are late for a meeting. Perhaps some think that the term translates to “finally!”. It’s not false, of course, but it’s a bit short.
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