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

Spanish Arabic Meaning
Arroz أرُز Rice
Azúcar سُكَّر Sugar
Aceite زيت Oil
Aceituna زَيْتون Olive
Acebibe (Uva pasa) زَبيب Raisin
Azafrán زَعْفَران Saffron
Berenjena باذِنْجان Eggplant
Limón لَيْمون Lemon
Jarabe شَراب Syrup
Café قَهْوَة coffee
Alubia لوبياء Black-eyed pea
Alcachofa خَرْشوف Artichoke
Comino كمون Cumin
Alcohol الكُحول Alcohol
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

Spanish Arabic Meaning
Jirafa زَرافة Giraffe
Gacela غَزَال Deer
Vaca بَقَرة Cow
Pato بَطَّة Duck
Algodón القُطْن Cotton
Alberca البِرْكة Pond
Gibraltar جَبَل طارق Gibraltar

الأماكن و الآلات
Places and machines

Spanish Arabic Meaning
Alcázar القَصْر Palace
Almacén المَخْزَن Storeroom
Aldea الضَّيْعَة (عامية شامية) Village
Acequia السَّاقية Irrigation ditch
Tahona طاحونة Grinder

كلمات أخرى
Other words

Spanish Arabic Meaning
Hola أهلًا Hello
Ojalá إن شاء الله If God wills
Hasta حَتَّى Until
Usted أُسْتاذ You (formal)
Camisa قَميص Shirt
Almohada المَخَدَّة (الوِسادة) Pillow
Química الكِيمياء Chemistry
Álgebra الجَبر Algebra
Albañil البَنَّاء Builder
Guitarra قيثارة Guitar
Quintal قِنطار Hundredweight
Alcalde القائِد Mayor
Elixir الإكسير Elixir
Momia مومياء Mummy
Tarea طريحة Task \ homework
Dado أعداد Dice
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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