The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Friday, December 04, 2015

Don't yawn at this post

Among the talkers at IQSA was Devin Stewart; and the last talk he gave concerned Arabic curses.

(I wish my maternal grandfather of blessed memory had been with me to hear it. He used to love that stuff.)

Anyway, Dr Stewart was among those speakers who said that his talk was a work-in-progress that shouldn't be cited; so, I won't cite it - except to give the general sense of the talk (public-domain / fair-use / please-don't-sue-me-I'm-lower-middle-class-and-broke). This was about paronomasia in the Qur'an. According to Stewart, paronomasia is a Semitic conversational art-form. If someone said something insensitive, a wit could turn what he said into a curse.

To illustrate, here is a hadith (not mentioned by Stewart): if one says 'Ha' when yawning, the Satan will laugh at him. It looks to me like the origin was just such a Semitic curse-response: "'Ha'? May you be laughed at!". Muslim imams would have adapted this, to keep their flock from yawning during their Friday rants.

... okay, maybe this post wasn't all that funny. Well, at least I got a smile out of... someone.

posted by Zimri on 22:41 | link | 0 comments

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