Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

Tahrir Square, Cairo

Today’s Good Word is pandemonium, brought up by the current pandemonium on Tahrir Square in Cairo. While editing this word, Paul Ogden, my friend and editor in Israel, had these thoughts, which struck me as worthy of being shared.

Tahrir means “liberation” in Arabic. It’s related to Hebrew herut “freedom”, the original name of Menachem Begin’s party. Hebrew has another related word, shikhrur whose meaning lies somewhere between “independence” and “liberation”.

There is also a big Turkish newspaper called Hurriyet, a word no┬ádoubt adopted by the Ottomans from Arabic. Finally, there’s also a big Turkish newspaper called Cumhurryet, which means “Republic”. It was evidently also lifted from Arabic, because the full name of Libya is something like Jamhuuriya al-Libya. (C is pronoounced in Turkish as J in English and Libyan.)

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