Bosnian (BCS): Sevdah (or Sevdalinka)

Discussion in 'Other Slavic Languages' started by martinemussies, Feb 12, 2006.

  1. martinemussies

    martinemussies Senior Member

    the Netherlands ~ Dutch.
    Hi everybody!
    I'm working on an article about Edward Huws Jones. One of his books is called "Sevdah" and I understood that "Sevdah" is the traditional music of the towns and cities of Bosnia. But does the word sevdah (of sevdalinka) also means something? (Like "klezmer", the word for the music, also means "musician".) I'm very curious to find out! Love, Martine.
  2. korosul Senior Member

    bosnia bosnian
    It is hard to find direct English translation for sevdah. Maybe the best match would be "yearning".
  3. alby Senior Member


    Sevdah is something like love pain, elan or magic of love, Its connected with emotions, and sevdalinke (pl.) are singing about that, bitterness and love pain.The songs are very melancolic.
    I have found that there is an arabic translation, its gall.
    Anyway you can wait what will others say...:)

    P.S. friend of mine (Bosnian) usually use term "you put me in sevdah" meaning that you have just made her feel down and sad.

  4. DaleC Senior Member

    Oh, then melancholy or heartache (which aren't quite the same in English). Perhaps 'sevdah' can mean either one depending on context.

    It seems strange that a UK site would use the word "gall" because I'm familiar with using "bile" to describe the pseudoscientific lore in question here (although the two words are about equivalent). It's always written that "melancholy" is Greek for "black bile". The writer of the above Web site wasn't familiar with this. Probably the Arabs got the idea of "humors" from the Ancient Greek teachings about the four "humors" that were the source of all emotions.

    The Web site seems to be mystifying things. Sevdah is not Arabic, it's the Turkish form of Arabic sawdah by regular sound change in Turkish borrowings from Arabic. While 'sawdah' might mean what the citation says, the root, swd, is simply the word for the color 'black'. (The name "Sudan", "suwdaan", means "land of the blacks".) Apparently, the Turks truncated some phrase that contained the word sawdah.
  5. MirjanaB New Member

    I would say "Sevdalinka" is a sad song
  6. templar414 New Member

    Osijek, Croatia
    Following text is from the website about sevdah and sevdalinka. If you open the Google and put the word "sevdah" in the search bar, the 4th result is the site from which I copied this text.

    Here it is:

    “The meaning of the word sevdah in the Turkish language denotes amorous yearning and ecstasy of love, and has its origin in the Arabic expression “säwdâ”, which encompasses and specifies the term “black gall”. Namely, ancient Arabic and Greek doctors believed that the black gall, as one of the four basic substances in the human body, affects our emotional life and provokes a melancholic and irritable mood. There from derives the expression in the Greek language “melancholy” with a figurative meaning of the direct projection of its basic meaning: melan hôlos – black gall. Since it is love itself that causes the same mood, in the Turkish language these terms were brought into a close link with the semantic identity, accomplishing a conceptual result of a dual projection of the basic meaning.

    The rest here.
  7. el_tigre Senior Member

    Sevdah and sevdalinka are (modified) turkish words. They are used as a name for traditional song from Bosnia (not from Hercegovina!!! )
  8. Aldin Member

    Sevdah songs(Sevdalinke) are used in Herzegovina too.
    One of the most famous sevdalinkas is Emina written by A.Šantić from Mostar.
    There are also other songs about Mostar like ''Bulbul pjeva okolo Mostara''.
    Some songs are about Croats too,there is ALI-PASA NA HERCEGOVINI

    Ali-pasa na Hercegovini,
    L'jepa Mara na Biscu bijase.
    Koliko su na daleko bili,
    Jedno drugom jade zadavali!

    Knjigu pise pasa, Ali-pasa:
    "L'jepa Maro, bi li posla za me?"
    S Bisca Mara pasi odgovara:
    "Da me prosis, ne bih posla za te,
    Da s' ozenis, bih se otrovala!"

    Some songs are about town,city or region,like ''S one strane Jajca gajtan trava raste''
    Some songs are rather ''nasty'' like ''Lijepi li su mostarski dućani'',but of course most sevdah songs are about love,tragic love.

    Stade se cvijece rosom kititi,
    Stade se biser zlatom nizati,
    Stade se srma srmom srmiti,
    Stadose momce cure ljubiti.

    Samo ja nemam nigdje nikoga,
    Samo ja nemam azgin-dilbera,
    Samo ja tuzna tugu tugujem,
    Samo ja nicem se ne radujem.

    Gledam ja goluba, golubicu,
    Gledam ja lastu i lastavicu,
    Gledam ja jedno drugo cjeluju,
    Gledam ja, zivotu se raduju.

    Nikad me nije niko volio,
    Nikad me nije niko ljubio,
    Nikada nisam zorom zorila,
    Nikada nisam sevdah vodila.

    Dadose mene mladu za stara,
    Dadose mene starcu zbog para,
    Da mu ja mlada kucu redujem,
    Da mu ja sijedu bradu milujem.

    Star meni vise mladoj ne treba,
    Star mene samo mladu zamara;
    Ja hocu ljubav, zivot i radost,
    Ja hocu sevdah, pjesmu i radost!
  9. Aldin Member

    For me sevdah means something beautiful,sad.When I feel that way(sevdah) for me time has stopped and only strong emotions are present,so sevdah is a state of spirit.You should see people on the concerts listening to sevdah.It looks like they are intoxicated,drugged.Beautiful feeling.Unfortunetly young people don't like sevdah songs because they are slow and beautiful,they prefer love songs sung by EDO MAAJKA like ''To mora da je ljubav''
    (...Ti si tako lijepa a ja sam takav smrad...;nisam se tušir'o ljudi smrdim...)
    And most sevdah singers are older than my grandparents.
  10. tarik_ze New Member

    Hi everyone. The word sevdah has a root in Turkish - "sev" means love, and basicaly "sevdah" is a love song, sung in very emotoinal way. Usually those are the songs about love pains and unreturned love. However, there are also sevdalinkas with homesickness theme or the ones that describe the situation in the society at the time when they were written.
  11. Cepkah Member

    Bilingual:Bulgarian - Turkish
    Sevda is coming from arabic and it means black originally.
    The Ottomans (i say Ottomans because bosniaks are the sons of ottomans too ;) ) picked this word and changed its meaning completely, so i think there isn't a proper word in english to explain it :)
    but i'm sure that sevda is not coming from ''sev'' which means love in turkish...
    we also still use sevda and it's the same sense like in bosnian..:)
  12. Valmont New Member

    Turkey, Turkish, English
    True, it is Arabic but Arabs don't use it in relation with love. "Sevmek" (-mek = -ing in English) mean to love in Turkish so I personally assume that this is the main attraction of Turks for this Arabic word and their reason for transforming it and using it in the context of love.
    The theme of love occupies a big part in Turkish Culture. When I say big, I really really and really mean it. :p So Ottoman Turks changed it and used it in Ottoman as "black love." Where two lovers can never be together and if you look at sevdalinkas, which are formed after the Ottoman influence started to dominate the Balkans, you'll see that most of them are about two lovers who are physically apart.
    In old (Ottoman) and new Turkish the word is used as "Sevda" and it is also used as a female name.
  13. BigRedDog

    BigRedDog Senior Member

    California, USA
    France, French
  14. Valmont New Member

    Turkey, Turkish, English
    Yea, pretty much.
  15. Valmont New Member

    Turkey, Turkish, English
    Look what I found randomly, this is from an article appeared in The Guardian about a newbie sevdalinka singer Amira Medunjanin;

    "Sevdah - the word is Turkish and suggests desire, yearning, thwarted love - has existed for hundreds of years in this region, often composed of just a voice and a saz (a Turkish lute). Yet it took Bosnia's suffering to focus the world's attention on this small nation's music. Sevdah bears comparison to Portuguese fado and Spanish flamenco; all three are vocal arts rooted in Arabic courtly love songs from a millennium ago. Amira, who comes to the UK for the first time this week and whose debut album, Rosa, is a recording of startling beauty, looks set to do for sevdah what rising Portuguese star Mariza has done for fado.",,2086728,00.html
  16. arwyn

    arwyn Member

    D - A- CH
    Croatian - German
    I wouldn't agree with you.. I like sevdahs though I am not Muslim or from Bosnia (and therefore I'm not really used to this kind of music). They sound strange, like a vague recollection of the past.. some of them are just beautiful and worth listening to.

    Of course Edo Maajka - as a is more popular, but this is quite normal, I guess.

    Martine, look for "mostar sevdah union" at youtube, they are really good..
  17. keigezellig New Member

    Venlo, The Netherlands
    The Netherlands, Dutch
    Maybe sevdah and saudade stem from the same Arabic swd
  18. Valmont New Member

    Turkey, Turkish, English

    The resemblance is significant and the idea is likely to be real, I assume.
  19. @aldin:

    Well, Edo Maajka has also used sevdah chorus for his song For Mirza (Za Mirzu), so he isn't so far away from that music as you think. ;)

    Stomak vuce u tudjinu
    oko gleda u daljinu
    i samoca kad me mlavi
    rijeka suza dusu plavi
    kad se covjek opet rodi
    sta bi od sebe da stvori
    umornom je srcu predah
    ono sto se zove sevdah

    Stomach drags me abroad
    With my eyes I look into the distance
    And loneliness when shatters me (tears me apart)
    River of tears overwhelms my soul
    When man born again
    What would he like to be
    To tired heart it's reprieve/respite
    The thing which is called SEVDAH

    (I tried... :) )

    So, he also can't escape from sevdah. he also has song Sevdah o rodama, which is just called like that, but it brings you in the same mood as original sevdah - you start to cry.
  20. thelastchoice Senior Member

    Arabic S.A.
    I know it is an old thread, but I found some misinformation about the Arabic origin on both sevdah and sevdalinka.
    The Arabic word used is سويداء Suwayda'a which is the diminutive form of سوداء Sawda'a (Feminine Adjective : Black). The phrase used in Arabic is سويداء القلب Suwayda'a AlQalb which means the deepest depth of Heart. Arab lovers may say: أنتِ في سويداء قلبي Antee fee suwayda'a Qalbee You are in the deepest depth of my heart.


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