The longstanding Influence of Arabic on Spanish Language

influence spanish arabic

Did you know that many of today’s Spanish words are originally derived from Arabic? Arabic has had a considerable influence on Spanish language throughout history and up till today. In fact, about 4,000 Spanish words are derived from Arabic, which amounts to 8% of the whole language. Many of which most people are familiar with, and are used in everyday conversation. Let us take a look!

Historical background

According to historical sources, the linguistic relationship between Arabic and Spanish began to form in 711 AD when the Arab people of North Africa, known as the Moors, conquered the Iberian Peninsula. ruling these lands for 800 years. During this era, the residents began to absorb many Arabic words into their language as well as cultural habits and innovations in various fields. Here are some spanish words derived from Arabic origin:

Food related words

Arroz audioأرُز audioRice
Azúcar audioسُكَّر audioSugar
Aceite audioزيت audioOil
Aceituna audioزَيْتون audioOlive
Acebibe (Uva pasa) audioزَبيب audioRaisin
Azafrán audioزَعْفَران audioSaffron
Berenjena audioباذِنْجان audioEggplant
Limón audioلَيْمون audioLemon
Jarabe audioشَراب audioSyrup
Café audioقَهْوَة audiocoffee
Alubia audioلوبياء audioBlack-eyed pea
Alcachofa audioخَرْشوف audioArtichoke
Comino audioكمون audioCumin
Alcohol audioالكُحول audioAlcohol
Fun fact: all Spanish words starting with “al” are derived from arabic as “al” equals the definition tool which is “ال”

الطبيعة و الحيوانات
Nature and Animals

Jirafa audioزَرافة audioGiraffe
Gacela audioغَزَال audioDeer
Vaca audioبَقَرة audioCow
Pato audioبَطَّة audioDuck
Algodón audioالقُطْن audioCotton
Alberca audioالبِرْكة audioPond
Gibraltar audioجَبَل طارق audioGibraltar

الأماكن و الآلات
Places and machines

Alcázar audioالقَصْر audioPalace
Almacén audioالمَخْزَن audioStoreroom
Aldea audioالضَّيْعَة (عامية شامية) audioVillage
Acequia audioالسَّاقية audioIrrigation ditch
Tahona audioطاحونة audioGrinder

كلمات أخرى
Other words

Hola audioأهلًا audioHello
Ojalá audioإن شاء الله audioIf God wills
Hasta audioحَتَّى audioUntil
Usted audioأُسْتاذ audioYou (formal)
Camisa audioقَميص audioShirt
Almohada audioالمَخَدَّة (الوِسادة) audioPillow
Química audioالكِيمياء audioChemistry
Álgebra audioالجَبر audioAlgebra
Albañil audioالبَنَّاء audioBuilder
Guitarra audioقيثارة audioGuitar
Quintal audioقِنطار audioHundredweight
Alcalde audioالقائِد audioMayor
Elixir audioالإكسير audioElixir
Momia audioمومياء audioMummy
Tarea audioطريحة audioTask \ homework
Dado audioأعداد audioDice
These are a few examples of some mutual words between Arabic and Spanish. The influence of Moorish Culture was not only limited to language.
AlHambra- A fortress in the Spanish city Granada, Andalusia.

Moors were the first to introduce Alchemy ‘the origin of chemistry’ and the science of Algebra, the concept of Zero in numbers. They also presented the game of Chess (الشطرنج). Surprisingly, instruments such as the Guitar and Flamenco were first presented by the Moors to Spanish music. Architecture(العمارة) and Food (الطعام) were also influenced, Mosques such as Cordoba’s Mosque (جامع قرطبة) and the Alhambra (Hambara) of Granada (قصر الحمراء) are still present today and remain a witness to a longstanding connection between the two languages and cultures. Chickpeas (الحمص) were also newly introduced to the Spanish Cuisine by the Moors. In addition to a number of crops (محاصيل) such as rice, sugarcane, figs and apricots. The influence of Arabic culture on Spain goes beyond language, extending to deep cultural roots, shaping the country’s identity to this day.

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