All Around Us

OK, so you thought I got carried away with the thrills of the jungle journey… well you ain’t seen nothing yet. The subject of the Arab world’s influence on the Occident is one of my favourites. It’s a matter that constantly amazes me. I guess the amazement stems from the fact that the majority of people have no clear idea of how massive, how utterly dynamic, the legacy of Eastern knowledge and culture is, within Western society. Where to begin…? Why not start with a few facts and fallacies. Here’s one that’s all around us: The English language is peppered with Arabic words, and from others which came to us through the matrix of the Arab world. There are hundreds of them, each one giving a clue to the links between East and West through past centuries. They include… alcohol, tariff, magazine, cheque, admiral, algorithm,alchemy,  adobe, amber, assassin, algebra, alembic, barbican, carafe, chemistry, cork, chess, cotton, crimson, camphor, calico, gazelle, gerbil, giraffe, harem, lilac, lemon, orange, lute, lime, racket, safari, sash, satin, sequin, sugar, syrup, talisman, zenith, zero, tarragon, tambourine and tabby — as in cat.

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