survey of daily news shows that the subject of killing is one of the most
prolific topic dealt with in the media. This does not come as a surprise
since in terms of frequency, the word "Kill" ranks 657th
of the commonly used words in English.
No wonder, Josef
de Maistre, a French Philosopher once said that: Man’s destructive
hand spares nothing that lives; he kills to feed himself, he
kills to clothe himself, he kills to adorn himself, he kills
to attack, he kills to defend himself, he kills to instruct
himself, he kills to amuse himself, he kills for the sake
past episodes we dealt with terms like harass, harsh, hit, hurt,
and fatigue. In Episode IV of Parallel Universe; Alternate Etymologies,
I felt it appropriate to extend this research to investigate the roots
of the word "Kill" * 1
in the English language.
ETYMOLOGY OF "KILL"
to the Oxford English Dictionary, it made its first appearance in Middle
English in a novel entitled "The king of Tars" circa 1330.*
term kill in Middle English began to appear just before the Hundred
Years War (1337-1453). As the French Language was falling
into disuse in14th century, English speech had already returned as the
native tongue of the Nobility and before the century closed, its had replaced
French in the courts, parliament and schools. However, etymologists
are in agreement that the etymology of the word "to kill" is shrouded
in obscurity and is not found in cognate languages.
appearance of the term "to kill" coincides with a time when the
Crusades in the East were on the wane. Edward of England failed
to advance from Acre, while the French king St. Louis and
of Anjou were equally defeated in Tunis. By 1291,
the last stronghold of the Crusaders, fell to the Mamaliyk of Egypt.
Crusaders, though defeated after two centuries in the East, brought back
with them a new infusion of Islamic art and Architecture as well as Arabic
learning into Western Europe. England was one of the most affected
of these countries. Christian churches and Christian Universities thus
soon came to be illuminated by the skill and learning, the technology,
and the scholarship of the Muslim East. One of the areas that enriched
the English language was the infusion of many Arabic terms. The list of
these borrowed words far exceeds the list of the traditional loaned words,
acknowledged by the Oxford English Dictionary *
(3). While the full impact of Arabic Language
on Middle English remains to be assessed properly, already new evidence
brought to light suggests this influence was significant. Hence, the purpose
of this series is to introduce many of these borrowed terms to the reader
for the first time. These words are grouped in themes and hitherto are
listed among the traditional Arabic terms which made it into the English
language (see the list of traditional Arabic loaned words which according
to the Oxford English Dictionary made it in the English language).
These terms are offered here for the first time for the sake of the reader's
edification with the exception of Ghoul which made it to the list
of Arabic loan words into English .
those skeptics about the influence of the Arabic language on the English
language, I feel duty bound to provide a bit of historical and linguistic
information to demonstrate how this impact manifested itself on the English
that respect, I strongly suggest that the reader read the following work
by Professor Siobhain Bly Calkin. Saracens and the Making
of English Identity:The Auchinleck Manuscript.*
(4) Though the work itself does not deal
with the matter of linguistics and/or etymology, it is an eye opener for
the understanding of the background in which many of these terms discussed
here, made their way into the English language.
THE CULTURAL CONTACT:
the 21st century, cultural and technological enrichment in 14th
century was primarily from East to West; Europe was underdeveloped
by Middle Eastern standards and had little to give in return.
the Crusades, Europeans came into contact with a civilization, which was,
in many ways, more advanced than their own. As a consequence, the
Crusades encouraged Europeans to attempt to grow the crops and manufacture
the products introduced from the Muslim East. The Eastern windmill and
irrigation ditch became common in parts of the Continent. Often Muslim
artists and craftsmen were imported to decorate the great double-walled
stone castles, based on Islamic art models, which the nobles of Europe
erected. Native artisans learned from these innovations. New military tactics
and equipment, as well as chivalric traditions involving heraldry and tournaments,
were introduced from the Muslim East.
Western writers adapted many Oriental stories, and quantities of history,
fiction, and combinations of the two gave the Crusades a permanent place
in European literature. Popular ballads about the great expeditions provided
the illiterate masses of Europe with both pleasure and information. Among
these literary works was "The King of Tars.” The novel is
of great relevance to this investigation, since it first introduced the
word "Kill" into Middle English.
great was the Muslim impact on Medieval West in general, and England in
particular, that lately medieval historians are starting to re-assess this
impact under new light. For example
Professor Siobhain Bly Calkin of
Carlton University in Canada made some of these areas of studies. Professor
Calkin is the author of many books, which deal with this subject matter.
Though Calkin does not discuss the linguistic borrowing per say,
he explores the ways in which discourses of religious, racial, and national
identity blur and engage each other in the medieval West. His books study
depictions of Muslims in England during the 1330s and argue that
these depictions, although historically inaccurate, served to enhance and
advance assertions of English national identity at this time. Texts involving
designating term for Arabs or Muslims, thus serve both to assert an English
identity, and to explore the challenges involved in making such an assertion
in the early fourteenth century.
Classical Arabic the term
"ghyl" signifie the act of deceiving,
or beguiling, and gull, as well as causing evil and
slaughter; i.e. Killing and/or slaying covertly. The term
has survived in Modern Arabic as ghiyl and/or Ightiyal.
The exact same cognates along with exact matching definitions are equally
found in Middle English in terms like: 1) Kill (1330),
2) Guile (1325) which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary,
is presumed to be of a Teutonic origin, though no certain etymon has been
found in Old English to back this surmising.
these three terms were recorded (seven centuries earlier) in the
Classical Arabic language and found to be related from the same trilateral
root, GHWL. This root, GHWL, also gave us additional
loaned terms such as: 3) Gall c.1200 (which cognates with
Arabic Ghll) and signifies rancor. The term "Ghll"
(rancor) was recorded in the Qur'anic verses (Q.7, v. 43,
Q. 15. v. 47 & Q. 59 v. 10). 5) While the term gull
was recorded in 1550. Moreover the same Arabic root gave us also
the term: Ghoul which means in Arabic: an ogre, a cannibal and a
embodiment of the natural fear and horror which a man feels when he faces
a really dangerous desert.* (6)
a comparison of the corresponding terms in Classical Arabic and
English see the following attached JPEGs below.
investigation clearly points out, without any doubt, that terms such as
kill, gall, guile, beguile and gull had their roots in Classical
Arabic language long before they made their first appearance in Middle
English or any western languages. Tremendous confusion about linguistics
and cultural origins has come about from these unsubstantiated Western
theories which have consistently been bias in their interpretations.
The time has now come to question more seriously whether the hitherto various
attempts by Westerners to prove that many of Indo-European etymological
reconstructions have any sound basis.
is not uncommon for entire etymological conclusions in the English Oxford
Dictionary to be based on a fallacy or unsound argument. When
reality dawns, the result could be devastating for the Indo-European
hypothetical reconstructions. The source of the fallacy is obvious
since two unrelated languages are unlikely to invent the same word with
the exact meaning independently from one another.
newly acquired data included in these episodes shed a light on the magnitude
of the Arabic influence in Europe and especially on the English language,
calling for a revision of many etymologies offered by western dictionaries.
Westerners know very little about the history of the Arab civilization
and less about its language, and are therefore unaware of the great impact
it had on their own culture. An objective in-depth investigation
of the extent of Arab influence on Europe is needed to balance this shortcoming.
the discoveries of these linguistic data (kill, gall, guile, beguile
gull), which hitherto were overlooked, the significance of the Arab
linguistic influence can no longer be ignored. For these data cannot
be dismissed as a simple case of a “trading goods” language being diffused
sporadically, but rather as highly specialized linguistic references corresponding
consistently and systematically, layer upon layer, in a remarkable pattern
of agreement with Classical Arabic.
(To be continued)
you have eliminated the impossible, you are left with the possible, however
I have intentionally skipped investigating altogether the synonym word
"assassin" which is well documented as originating from the Arabic term
al-Hashashiyn AL-HASHASHIYN: THE ASSASSINS
infamous militant religious sect of Isma`iyliy led by Hasan
al-Sabbah (circa 1034 - 1124) in the heart of the Alborz
Mountains of northern Iran. This mystic secret society killed members of
the `Abbasiy elite for political or religious motivations.
The name "assassin" is derived from "al- hashashiyn" for
the supposed influence of the drugs, and disregard for their own lives
in the process. Their leader, Hasan Ibn al-Sabbah.
from a high mountain fortress directed a ruthless campaign against the
leaders of the Sunni Muslim sects and Saljuwq rulers in Iran, Iraq and
Syria. In 1090, Hasan seized the fortress of Alamuwt atop
the Alborz Mountains northwest of Qazwiyn. The fortress which stood
on a ridge 6000 feet above the sea, commanded a royal view of the
valley below, accessible only by a single, almost vertical pathway. This
impregnable remote fortress was an ideal hideout which soon became
the headquarters for al-
hashashiyn. The position of
Alamwut caused its prince to receive the title Shaykh al
Gabal "Prince of the Mountain". A title which was mistranslated by
western historians as the “Old Man of the Mountain.”
(2) The historical milieu in which the story
circulated included the first occurence of the word "Kill" borrowed
from the Arabic Language. The King of Tars story plot may be summarized
briefly as follows: The Sultan of Damascus falls in love with the daughter
of the Christian king of Tars, upon hearing reports of her beauty he sends
an embassy to the king asking the Princess hand in marriage as his price
for peace. The king of Tars rejects his ouvertures.
(3) Traditional list of Arabic loaned words
which according to the Oxford English Dictionary made it in the English
adobe, albacore, albatross, alchemy, alcohol, alcove, Aldebaran,
alembic, algebra, algorithm, alkali, almanac, Altair, aniline, arsenal,
artichoke, assassin, aubergine, average, azimuth, azure.
caramel, caraway, carmine, carob, checkmate, chemistry, cipher, coffee,
gauze, gazelle, genie, gerbil, ghoul, giraffe.
hashish, hazard, hegira, henna.
magazine, mascara, massage, mattress, mirror, mocha,
mohair, monsoon, mummy, muslin.
satin, sequin, sherbet, sorbet, shrub, syrup, soda.
tahini, tamarind, tare, tariff, tazza.
(4) "Marking Religion on the Body: Saracens,
Categorization and The King of Tars," Journal of English and Germanic Philology
104, no. 2 (2005): 219-38
"Violence, Saracens, and English Identity of Of Arthour and of Merlin,"
"Sterotypical Saracens, the Auchinleck Manuscript, and the Problems of
Imagining Englishness in the Early Fourteenth Century: Saracen Knights."
"Reading Seynt Mergrete and Seynt Katerine in the context of the Auchinleck
"The Anxieties of Encounter and Exchange: Saracens and Christian Heroism
in Sir Beues of Hamtoun.
"Expansionism and Cultural Hybridity: Postcolonial Ideas and Two Romances
from the Auchinleck Manuscript.
(5) Sar·a·cen . A member of
a pre-Islamic nomadic people of the Syrian-Arabian deserts. An Arab.A
Muslim, especially of the time of the Crusades.[Middle English, from Old
English, from Late Latin Saracenus, from Late Greek Sarakenos, ultimately
from Arabic sharq, east, sunrise.
(6) The Arabian ghoul is known as a desert-dwelling,
skin walker demon that can transform itself into the guise of an animal,
especially a hyena.Ghoul
have their origin in the Arabic of Alf Laylah wa Laylah - the Thousand
Nights and a Night and in their root stories. The Arabian ghoul lured travelers
into the desert wastes to slay and devour them, and also robbed graves
and fed on the flesh of the dead, or on young children. Sir Richard F.
Burton, nineteenth century translator of the Arabian Nights, wrote
some interesting footnotes on the subject.