Senior Member
Greece / greek
Hi. It is very common for the greek language to use arabic words (and the opposite may i add), so in the greek forum somebody ask where the word "tsafari" -that means something like "flute" in our language- comes from. They replied:
[tsipowr , the bird, from its whistling (tspr, Arab. tsafar, R. tsp, cf. Arab. saffârat, the whistling of a bird), Arab. safar, whistler (with prosthesis, 'atsafwar, warbler, Psalm. p. 794).]
I know that "safar" in arabic means "journey".
Can you enlight me?

P.S. : In latin script please:eek:
  • Abu Bishr

    Senior Member
    Afrikaans, South Africa
    Hi Tetina

    The Arabic word for “travel” is سفر (safar) with a siin, whereas “Safiir” (whistling, chirping of birds) and “Saffaaraat” (sirens), like in صفارات الإنذار (Safaaraat al-inthaar) = (alarm / warning sirens), are written in Arabic respectively as: صفير and صفّارات with a Saad and not a siin. Moreover, the root letters ص – ف – ر(S-f-r) in Arabic also has meanings of “yellowness”, “zero”, “copper” or “copper-like metal”, and then there is also the Arabic month of Safar.

    Another indication that “Safiir” means “whistling” like a bird is that in traditional Arabic phonetics the three letters (س ص ز) (siin, Saad, & zaay) are known as the “Letters of Safiir” (the whistling letters). I hope this clarifies the difference between (safar) for traveling and (Safiir or Saffaar) for whistling.


    Senior Member
    Greece / greek
    I understant now the written differences but the difference in the pronounciation is in the vocal a / i or in the s?


    Abu Bishr

    Senior Member
    Afrikaans, South Africa
    The difference is in the "s". The [s] in "safar" to mean travel is pronounced flat as any normal "s", where as the [s] in "Safiir" to mean "whistling" is pronounced with the lips rounded almost (but not exactly) like the "sa" and "so" in "saw" or "sorry" respectively. It is never pronounced like "su" in "sun". I think here in the forum the convention is to write the one as a small (s) and the other as a capital (S). I hope that clarifies it.


    Senior Member
    Greece / greek
    Yes, now it's clear.:) maybe that's why when i ask an Arab what "safar" means tells me "journey", because i pronounce the s flat and not fat.;)

    thanks for dealing with this Abu Bishr.

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    The difference is not only in the "s", but in the vowels too.
    safar سفـر = travel, journey
    Safiir صفـير = whistle
    But a whistle (i.e. the instrument with which a whistling sound can be made) is also called Saffarah in Arabic (صفّارة).


    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Another important difference is the way the two letters can affect vowels that follow them. In Arabic, the letter ا and the fat7a (the short version of the same) each have two possible pronunciations, and the pronunciation often depends on the preceding letter.

    صَعيد (Sa3iid)
    سَعيد (Sa3iid)

    These two words differ not only in the pronunciation of the first letter but also in the pronunciation of the vowel following it. Whenever a fat7a follows a ص, it is pronounced like a shorter version of the "a" in the English word "father" (indicated above with a line underneath). When it follows a س, however, there are two possible pronunciations: the one just discussed and another one, kind of like the first "a" in the English word "banana" (indicated above as a normal "a"). Unfortunately, on this forum it is not common to differentiate between these two pronunciations. It would be nice if we started doing that, but we have a hard enough time trying to convince some of our long-standing members to stick to the clear and generally unambiguous transliteration system most of our members have tacitly agreed to use. :)
    [...]then there is also the Arabic month of Safar.
    Muslim month. :) There is no such thing as an "Arabic month." Discussion about this moved here.
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