The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Sunday, June 05, 2016

To stand so close to me

Lewis keeps harping on this near-and-far status (or is it rank) in Arabic. So I'm going to have to do this too.

When Arabs talk about being "close", they sometimes mean friendship or companionship, but if they're talking social relations in the abstract then they usually don't. Someone is more central than the others. Being "close" to that centre means being more important than those who are further away. If I seem to be channeling Animal Farm here, it's for jolly good reason.

So we have the walâ, which means those close to the family... as freed slaves and clients (pp. 12, 34-5). We have the sahib who is a companion... and then an expert, as sahib al-lulu for a market pearlmaster... and, at last, lord of a British manor in India (p. 18).

posted by Zimri on 13:26 | link | 0 comments

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