Zero

Tabac

Senior Member
U. S. - English
Just wondering what the word for 'zero' is in Arabic. I'm interested because the Turkish word is sifir (no dots on the i's, the two vowels pronounced much like schwa) and we're wondering if the Turkish word is from Arabic.
 
  • MarcB

    Senior Member
    US English
    Tabac,
    Yes the Turkish word is the same as the Arabic,The Arabic word is the origin of zero in English also. Zero Etymology: French or Italian; French zéro, from Italian zero, from Medieval Latin zephirum, from Arabic sifr
    Cipher Etymology: Middle English, from Medieval Latin cifra, from Arabic sifr empty, cipher, zero
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Tabac said:
    Just wondering what the word for 'zero' is in Arabic. I'm interested because the Turkish word is sifir (no dots on the i's, the two vowels pronounced much like schwa) and we're wondering if the Turkish word is from Arabic.
    The two ı's could correspond to the Arabic kasra ("i" vowel). In the word "Sifr," the vowel after "S" is a short "i" sound (as in English: kit), but there is no vowel between "f" and "r" in Arabic:

    Sifr صِفْر
     

    mansio

    Senior Member
    France/Alsace
    I keep wondering how those double consonants are pronounced in Arabic without vowels after them (for example qaSr, fiqh, lawH). There may be a kind of mute "e" (schwa) between the two consonants of sifr, which I have noticed in the pronunciation of qaSr.
    In French we manage to pronounce the "f" and "r" as one consonant "shifr" (spelled "chiffre").
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    The consonants S, H, and q are not "double consonants." I'd call them "emphatic consonants" (at least S, DH, and D). And it is by no means impossible to say "sifr," "qaSr," and "miSr" without a schwa. It just requires some effort. :)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Exactly (well, for me it doesn't require much effort ;)).

    Just like you can say "chiffre" without a schwa we can say "qaSr" and "Sifr" without one.

    Nevertheless, it's interesting to note that in many dialects - like mine - a schwa is added. In Palestinian Arabic we say "2aSer" and "sifer." Perhaps that means it's easier to pronounce them with a schwa, but it's by no means impossible to pronounce them without one.
     
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