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Thread: Masala

  1. #1
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    Masala

    The /s/ in the Hindustani word masala is an Arabic /saad/ (sorry, no Arabic font). I am curious to know more about the origin of this word.

  2. #2
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    Re: Masala

    Hello,

    Here is what I came up with.

    In the dictionary of John Platts, A dictionary of Urdu, classical Hindi, and English, the origin of this word is given as the Arabic word مصالح (masaalih) that is the plural for مصلحة (maslahat), meaning of which is given as "a thing that is good and right". The particular meaning of the plural form is as follows: Things for the good of; or things or affairs conducive to good;... materials, ingredients, necessaries", hence spices.

    We need someone with a good knowledge of Arabic for further information.

  3. #3
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    Re: Masala

    maSlaHa basically means advantage, avail, benefit - as an example: this is to your advantage = هذا من مصلحتك. It is in fact derived from the root for "being good" because "your advantage" is understood as "good for you". However, it can also refer to business in the sense that "your business is your benefit or advantage", as in: ذهبت أقضي بعض مصالحي = I went to do some business of mine.

    I'm not sure how it came to mean spices in Hindustani; maybe it came from merchants who viewed the spices as their business? Or maybe it makes food taste better so it was considered something that gives an advantage to the food?

  4. #4
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    Re: Masala

    The word Icf asked about isn't مصلحہ but مصالہ.
    (I've typed in the Urdu script so if you have any difficulty deciphering the last letter, in Arabic it is the 'silent t'. I didn't have Arabic keyboard.)

  5. #5
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    Re: Masala

    The dictionary says that مصالہ is a corruption of مصالح, which is the plural of مصلحة
    Love all, trust a few, do harm to none. William Shakespeare

  6. #6
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    Re: Masala

    Yes, either way I was asking about the word that means spices or more accurately something like "seasonings." In Hindi/Urdu it doesn't only mean dry spices but includes some wet ingredients like chopped cilantro, fresh green chilies, etc.

  7. #7
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    Re: Masala

    Quote Originally Posted by chrysalid View Post
    The dictionary says that مصالہ is a corruption of مصالح, which is the plural of مصلحة
    McGregor, The Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary confirms that
    मसाला masālā is derived from the plural مصالح maSaaliH.

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