SearchWord of the Week: Persian words

Word of the Week: Persian words ... 20/01/2017 Culture

Keywords:#American, #Arabic,, #French, #Greek, #Hebrew, #Hungarian, #Iran, #Japanese, #Persian, #Portuguese, #Turkish

By Chrysti the Wordsmith, Local Columnist
The English language is marvelously promiscuous. Throughout its long and mottled history, it has embraced terms and phrases from dozens of the world’s languages. The vocabulary of contemporary American English includes words from the Spanish, Finnish, Japanese, Hungarian, Portuguese, Hebrew and Turkish languages.
A nice handful of our vocabulary comes from Persian, the ancient language of present-day Iran. Though these terms are of Persian ancestry, many of them arrived at English via an intermediary language, such as Greek, Arabic or French.
For example, the term angel, often considered a Greek term, is Persian in origin. In that language, angel meant “messenger” or “courier.”
The word paradise has a similar pedigree. While the Greeks adopted this term and passed it on to English speakers, paradise was originally Persian and meant “walled garden, or enclosed park or orchard.” This term appeared in English around 1000 AD.
The julep, a drink of bourbon and mint, derives its name from Persian. Passed from that language into Arabic, then into French and English, the original Persian word meant “rose water.”
Though the term lilac has come to English via French and Arabic, it was originally a Persian color word meaning “blue or indigo.” Lilac began appearing in English documents early in the 1600s, in reference to the flowering shrub.
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