Saturday, 22 April 2017

S is for Stars....of Several kinds


is for
Shukran gazeelan!

Probably the most well-known bit of Arabic among non-native speakers  - it means ‘thank you very much!’ The g can be pronounced either hard as in 'go' or as in 'jet' depending on the regional dialect. Whichever way you say it, you'll be understood.     



Singer Yousra El Hawary with El Soor - the Wall - a song about a wall built to keep out protesters during the Egyptian Revolution. One of the loveliest voices to come out of the Arab Spring.






More of her music at her own Site. 



Also, Samira Said, a Moroccan-Egyptian and a much awarded and successful singer, can't not mention her!









Stars 


Why do so many star names sound so abstruse? I mean, Achernar, Betelgeuse, Deneb Algedi, Rasalased, seriously? Where did these even come from? They don’t sound anything like Greek or Latin, the two languages on which most Western nomenclature is based. Well, star names don’t sound like Greek or Latin because they aren’t Greek or Latin, simple.  Those are actually, yup, you knew this was coming, didn't you? Arabic.


Betelgeuse derives from Ibt al Jauza or the Armpit of the Giant (the Giant being Orion) or more likely Yad al Jauza (the Hand of the Giant). How did Yad become Bet? That’s because a careless transcriber/translator missed a dot. The letter for B in Arabic is the exact same as Y, except that B has one dot below it, while Y has two.  Somewhere along the line someone misread or miswrote Y and B and voila - Betelgeuse! A case of Arabic whispers, only written not verbal. Achernar is Akhir an Nahr (End of the River in Arabic), Rasalased is from Ras al Assad (Head of the Lion) and so on.


The nomads named their visible stars in antiquity, no-one knows when exactly, maybe 2-3000 years ago.  These names themselves were built from the ancient legends and myths of Sumer, Babylon  and Mesopotamia. 


The Egyptian-Greek, Claudius Ptolemy (100-170 CE), lived in Alexandria and wrote three monumental works of importance (in Koine Greek) – one each on astronomy, astrology and geography.  In his treatise on astronomy called Almagest now (it went by a different, more complex moniker at the time of writing), he catalogued all the known stars, among other things. Ptolemy catalogued around 48 star constellations, it became the definitive text from which all astronomers worked for centuries after, though the original Greek version was lost, preserved only in translation.


The Almagest in due course was translated into Arabic. The star names from Almagest were converted to Arabic and some more of their own Arab names added, the ones handed down to them by their nomad ancestors, from the ancient civilisations of the Middle East.


Al Sufi, known in the west as Azophi (10th century), carried out extensive observations in Persia, in Yemen, in Iraq, and published the first critique to Ptolemy’s Almagest, which was by then many centuries old.  In it, he refined some of Ptolemy’s observations and also added his own.  This ground breaking book, in which the names of the stars were obviously in Arabic, was called Kitab Suwar al Kawakib al Thabitha (The Book of Fixed Stars) and went onto become a classic. Many of these Arabic star names were later on transmitted to Latin during the Middle Ages and down the years to modern times.








Courage, brother, do not Stumble
Though thy path be dark as night,
There's a Star to guide the humble,
Trust in God and do the right.
Let the road be rough and dreary
And it's end far out of Sight,
Foot it bravely; Strong or weary
Trust in God and do the right...

~ Norman Macleod, 1867



The Spirit always flags a bit by the time the A-Z gets into it's last third, and this time is no different. It becomes more of a Struggle to keep up the visits, the reading, the returns, and the comments, and it doesn't help that my weekends don't match up with the A-Z's Sabbath. And it's compounded by the fact the toughest letters are Strategically concentrated in a Series of obstacles in this last bit. But I'll rally, I know I will, can't Stop now! 



Talking about devotionals, are you aware of the Stereotype about Arabs avoiding any music apart from religious music? Music is supposed to be unIslamic. I don't know if that's right or wrong, no comment.  But I can't help pointing out that I do hear a massive amount of Secular, - traditional and popular and alternative music being Sung and listened to all around me in Arablands. And the largest Arabic record label - Rotana? it's based out of Saudi, Supposedly the nation of the Strictest interpretation of Islam, go figure! 








Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2017 

55 comments:

  1. So if I was to take away one phrase from this AtoZ, it would be this one? Sounds pretty important!

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    1. Thank you is a pretty useful phrase to know in any country...can't go wrong with that one :)

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  2. You can do it. You are nearly at the end now - and I have been so very grateful for the education, the fun, the travel.
    S is for Stupendous.

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement and the support throughout EC! Appreciate it majorly!

      I'm behind with the returns :( and the coming week is going to be insane! :((

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  3. Who would have thought the name Betelgeuse comes from a mistake? Sorry, but it's here to stay! ;-) I do get those dots. Hebrew vowels are just dots. Mostly they're left out in print and you're expected to just know how the words are pronounced.

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    1. Hebrew and Arabic are closely related. The dots are part of the letters in Arabic, there are separate marks placed above or below for the vowel sounds, but like Hebrew, they are not written out explicitly in most cases. The reader is expected to 'know' the pronunciation from the context, like you said...a tad difficult for non-native speakers

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  4. Thank you in any laungiage is wonderful and Arabic is no exception. I also loved that verse.
    The music was wonderful to listen to. All in all this is a super post.

    Yvonne.

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    1. The verse is one of my favs too...thanks for being here.

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  5. Shukran gazeelan for another informative and entertaining post!

    Amble Bay's fabulous shops!

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  6. How fascinating about the star info. I appreciate all the posts you've done, and hope you find the stamina to continue. Shukran gazeelan!

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    1. Thank you. Things always look a little better in daylight :) I am hopeful, I will make it.

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  7. S is for supper, and that's what this gift is. I do appreciate the extra video. I notice you Snuck in a poem.

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    1. Oh dear, so I did...forgot that poetry was supposed to be banished for this month...sigh...

      Thanks for being here!

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  8. Nice post! That missing the dot from Arabic translation in names is very curious. How just a minor thing can make difference ...
    Thanks for sharing!
    Simulation
    Best Wishes!

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    1. The smallest things can make the most monumental differences...

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  9. It can be difficult to complete the A to Z, but you are doing very well! While i know some names of constellations are from the Greek or Latin, i didn't know how the star names came about.

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    1. It's strange isn't it? the constellations are Greek/Latin, while the individual stars are from Arabic?

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  10. Interesting bit about the confusion between the Arabic B and Y in the translation. Supposedly, in the original version of Cinderella, her slipper was made of fur and not glass, but a translator confused the word vair (fur) for verre (glass). No proof exists of this error, however.

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    1. I did not know that! Thank you. It makes so much sense! Why would anyone make a slipper of glass anyways? so uncomfortable. And perhaps the proof doesn't exist because it was not a translation but a transliteration mistake?

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  11. I enjoyed very much the history lesson! If the music out of the more extreme Egypt, is it's message different as well?
    Perspectives at Life & Faith in Caneyhead

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    1. Most of the music is romantic in nature. During the Arab Spring, the subject changed for a bit to include protest songs. Political activism/statement is not a top choice for musicians in the Arablands, self-censorship has been and perhaps still is prevalent

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  12. I blogged about stars today too.

    We have much to thank the early Arabic astronomers for, because they kept so much of the science alive. Half my History of Astronomy class was all about them.

    Her Grace, Heidi from Romance Spinners (who is really blogging about astronomy)

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    1. Very true. During the dark ages, it was the Arab/Muslim scientists who kept scientific endeavor alive, while the rest stagnated. Not just astronomy - mathematics, chemistry, geography, navigation, art, architecture, medicine, in every field they expanded human knowledge in the most sophisticated way. The European Renaissance drew upon their work for its lift off.

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  13. How fascinating that the star names are Arabic. Do you know Arabic script Nila? Yes, the coming week is a little daunting and your Sabbath not matching is tough.
    Scenes from a Marriage #Lexicon of Leaving

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    1. I know my Arabic alphabet and numbers, and speak a little in the Egyptian accent, as the Arabs would say :)

      The coming week is going to be really tough, things offline will demand attention...sigh...but fingers crossed and hope to keep the head above water :)

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  14. Your posts are always so informative, I walk by being a little more educated every time..Thanks!

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    1. Welcome anytime...thanks for visiting!

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  15. Superior research, Sublime descriptions, Simple clear explanations for Arabic rookies. You have a top notch blog. Sincere and Surefooted. Well done and I look forward to a Smooth finale week. Hang Strong

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    1. Thank you for the unstinting support!!

      Hope I can be surefooted navigating the last week - the posts are planned in advance, but the reading has to be done on the day, no shortcuts possible there :)

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  16. These posts are so educational, I am going to have to return to them after the A to Z. And thank you so much for following my blog.

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    1. The A-Z is my special tool for finding blogs to follow :) Glad you enjoyed the posts

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  17. Hi Nila - I'm loving these posts - and look forward to spending more time re-reading and listening to your recommendations ... yes - good luck to the last third of the A-Z ... cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/s-for-sheep.html

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    1. Thanks Hilary, I will need every bit of luck for the coming week :)

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  18. That is fascinating. I had no idea of the origin of those names.

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    1. I'm sure I've said this before :) the Arabs have had far reaching and profound influence on varied fields...and they were particularly passionate about astronomy...

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  19. I love blogs that teach me something new, and there is so much to learn in this post I had to read it twice. Thank You! I'll try to make a link, since I am here from A to Z.
    S is for Snakes in the Kitchen

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    1. Your link is most intriguing. I lived in a fairly remote part of West Africa as a child, and we had snakes meandering into my mother's kitchen and into my classroom too. Thanks for stopping by.

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  20. So many S words, Nila!
    Love the trust in God poem. God guides the Stars & all the creations!
    Have a great weekend!
    'Simplicity' #AtoZChallenge

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    1. It's actually a hymn, and it combines concepts of politics, stars and simplicity in its three stanzas. You'll find it interesting. Very apt for the times, whichever faith one belongs to, and even if faithless...
      Hope you're having a relaxing Sunday.

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  21. Beautiful post and thanks for the very lovely poem, Nilanjana. I wish the "star" blogger in you the very best for the last week of A to Z challenge. Your posts have been so rich and informative !
    Best wishes,
    Moon
    https://aslifehappens60.wordpress.com

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    1. Thank you! The last stretch is somehow always most difficult :)

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  22. Despite the struggle, I'm here:)
    Didn't know Rotana is a Suadi based label. Wow!
    Shukran Neelanjana.
    S is for Silver Serendipity

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    1. Afwan. See you round the A-Z track tomorrow. No question of giving up however hard it gets :)

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  23. I took astronomy my junior year of high school and my junior year of university, and so learnt many Arabic star names. I don't remember them all, but I do remember some.

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    1. There are many more of course, I have only mentioned a couple as examples...

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  24. Love the section about the starts. I find it fascinating how in the ancient time different cultures seemed to mix peacesuly, learnign one from the other. Inspiring :-)

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir

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    1. They did a better job of peaceable living in those so-called 'rougher' times than we seem to do in our sophisticated one

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  25. I like your post as usual, but especially the part of the stars. Very interesting!
    -----
    Eva - Mail Adventures

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    1. Stars are always fascinating :) whichever way we look at them

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  26. I do love Arabic star names :) Antares especially, because it reminds me of the Romance of Antara...

    The Multicolored Diary: WTF - Weird Things in Folktales

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    1. Most of them sound quite romantic too. Antares is a good choice for a fav :)

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  27. Really enjoying the new (to me) music. The Arab Spring was such a time of hope. And sometimes scary. Never imagined where it would end up.
    Finding Eliza

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  28. I've always loved the name Betelgeuse (and not just because it reminds me of Beetlejuice), but I had no idea about its origin.

    Fascinating post, as always!

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Nonymous comments prized more than rubies :) Anonymous comments shall be deleted as soon as spotted. Just so you know.