Unknown language: Bedâr

QuangHai

Senior Member
Viet
In Out of Africa by I. Dinensen, I came across this sentence,

"Bedâr is on his way back,” he announced. “He will be here in two or three days.”

That is a African young boy talked to a White Immigrant Settlers in 1920-1930 to inform her that her friend is coming back from a Safari. I believe Bedâr it is Arabic and seems to be a title. Please anyone help me out on the meaning of it.
Thanks
 
  • Alfaaz

    Senior Member
    English
    Quoted below are definitions from Platts' Urdu dictionary and Steingass' Persian Dictionary for the word بیدار:
    P بيدار bedār, adj. Awake, wakeful, sleepless; watching, watchful, vigilant, alert: ...
    بیدار bīdār, Awake, waking; wakeful, at- tentive; play, sport; ...
    From the context you have provided, it seems that Bedaar is the characters name.

    Since you had created a thread in the Arabic forum (prior to this thread) stating that you think the word/name might be of Arabic origin, another possibility could perhaps be that it is a mispronunciation or misrepresentation of the Arabic word بدر - badr (also used as a name)...?!

    Forum members who have read the memoir could hopefully provide better answers!
     

    QuangHai

    Senior Member
    Viet
    Thanks Alfaaz for trying to help. It is not character's name, definitely. Hence I guess it is a title for white man big game hunter/settler. The youngster said that is a Masai in Africa. Initially, I thought it is Arabic but it seems not. Sometimes Masai also speaks Swahili.
     

    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Thanks Alfaaz for trying to help. It is not character's name, definitely. Hence I guess it is a title for white man big game hunter/settler. The youngster said that is a Masai in Africa. Initially, I thought it is Arabic but it seems not. Sometimes Masai also speaks Swahili.
    Bedâr is most certainly not Swahili. Swahili words have final vowels and do not carry circumflex accents.
     
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    L'irlandais

    Senior Member
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Excellent resource, rayloom. Thank you for the extra context.
    Airway's boy said:
    he said to Farah: 'Not for a hundred rupees would I, then, have gone up with
    Bwana Bedâr.' The shadow of destiny, which Denys himself had felt the last days
    at ...
    'And you, Bedâr,' he said, turning to Denys, 'what do you think?
    The thing that strikes me is that Bwana Bedâr's real name (& title) is The Hon. Denys George Finch Hatton.

    Brian Herne's book "White Hunters" has a wonder piece in it about Denys Finch Hatton-" The Honorable Bedar". This doesn't really shed more light on the origins of this nickname.

    Wiktionary tells us Bwana (in English) is a borrowing from Swahili bwana (“master”), from Arabic أَبُونَا (ʾabūnā, “our father ”)

    Dominique de Saint Pern novel Baroness Blixen, sheds some more light.
    La ruse ne trompait personne, les Noirs moins que quiconque, qui l'appelaient « Bedâr ». Le chauve. À quarantetrois ans. Cela le tourmentait considérablement, d'autant que, sous le couvrechef, la saignée ..
    It appears Denys started balding and it tormented him greatly. To hide it he a always wore his hat, always, to the point where it became his trademark. Only nobody was fooled by the hat, even the natives knew he was balding.

    So bedâr is a reference, either to the hairloss (probably) or (possibly) the hunting hat. Sorry, no idea what language it means "bald" in, but it appears that's why he was called bedâr.
     
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    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I've seen a couple of references on the web to an Indian caste by the name of Bedar, which is traced back to a (Hindi?) word meaning "hunter", but none of them from a source I would cite with confidence. No circumflex, and I belive one of them had a dot under the 'd', which would indicate a cerebral (retroflex) consonant.
     

    mundiya

    Senior Member
    Hindi, English, Punjabi
    ^ There is no Hindi word similar to bedar with the meaning "hunter", and an Indian caste would not come into the equation because the character is clearly African.

    Bedar appears to be a word of Somali origin. Another writer when discussing this book states that Bedar means "balding one" to the Somalis: The Lives of Beryl Markham

    I verified in a Somali dictionary that bidar means baldness: Somali-English and English-Somali Dictionary
     
    Bedar appears to be a word of Somali origin. Another writer when discussing this book states that Bedar means "balding one" to the Somalis: The Lives of Beryl Markham
    It seems to be the truth ,as it seems to be a cultural issue amongst Somali society ,according to this articleThe Somali love of 'rude' nicknames - BBC News
    Which finally goes to explain @L'irlandais point
    The thing that strikes me is that Bwana Bedâr's real name (& title) is The Hon. Denys George Finch Hatton.
     

    L'irlandais

    Senior Member
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    I like it, the Honorable balding one. Well spotted, the Somali connection.

    The language pool in Nairobi, of the 1920s was larger than one might imagine, it was a multicultural place by all accounts. People came from many parts of the British Empire to build the railway and settle down there when the line was finished. So immigrants from India*, (present day) Pakistan, Sudan and Somalia had established communities in the municipality. Even in the '20s it was a hub for Safaris for the Europeans. The local Maasai speak the Maa language and also Swahili. That's seven (or eight with Danish) major languages, if you allow that most of the Europeans were English, or Anglo Irish.
    Oh, and a Breton aristocrate, so a smattering of French too, for good measure.

    * @mundiya, our American friend wasn't so far off the mark. However, the Gujarati merchants there were largely Hindus belonging to the Lohana caste. The character Denys is very much English, but it would seem his disregard for the native Africans earned him a moniker that followed him to his grave.
     
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