Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Arabic in Greek

The title amīr al-muʾminīn is found as a single noun in -ης in various forms in Byzantine texts (ἀμερμουμνῆς), including one that appears to reflect the article in the middle of the Arabic noun phrase: ἀμεραμνουνῆς.

Alchemy (or Chemistry after the removal of the article) provides an example of a Greek word (χυμ(ε)ία/χημεία, perhaps itself from Coptic) making its way into Arabic and thenceforth.

1 comment:

bdgn said...

The words "alchemy" and "chemistry" go back, through Arabic, to Copic, and then Middle Egyptian. The root 'kmt', meaning "black (land)" or "Egypt", later, in demotic and Coptic, became "kimi", so the Middle Egyptian "rmc kmt" - Egyptian - became "romenkimi". The word "kimaios", incidentally, also appears in Homer. Although Hebrew, Aramaic, and Middle Persian gave a new name to Egypt - based on "mitzrayim" - the word "kiimi" was assiocated with magic, as the Egyptians were known for their skill in that (see Exodus and the Qur'an). After the Islamic conquests, the word "al-qimiyyah" was exported to Europe to become "Alchemy" and "Chemistry".