Sunday, October 12, 2014

Turns of Phrase

If you've been following this blog already for a short while, you can't have failed to notice my regular sign-off:


Khodafez is a very interesting word, with a very interesting etymology and definition, that I try to use it when possible.

Khodafez is essentially a parting-term in Farsi, very common in Iran. A "good-bye", or "farewell", or "fare thee well", if you will.

The official phrase is khoda hafiz, which means literally "May God be your guardian". Most Persians just shorten this to khodafez, which I personally prefer. That is the history of this strange term.

I am a language nerd. I look up etymologies of words in other languages and study their etymologies and original meanings and spellings. I compare words in different languages: for example, the Spanish rojo, the French rouge, the Italian rosso, and the delightfully unrelated Portuguese vermelho. English itself is a language hog. It has selfishly taken and borrowed words from other languages and adapted them to its needs. The result? We speak French peppered with some Spanish, Italian and other languages, and speak it with a German accent.

Part of the allure of languages are the different phrases used. Below are some of the phrases that different languages have. Can you guess what they mean?

entre nous
segun San Lucas
mahalo nui loa
ab aeterno
folie a deux
joie de vivre
cri de coeur

This is a weird topic, I know. But it's still interesting to learn languages, or at least parts of them. For in learning languages, you gain insight in their culture and history, too. That's why etymologies are so fascinating.

In addition, some of the lesser-known languages here in the West have a certain allure that the European ones can't equate. Everyone can guess what "adieu" means, but how many people, how many of you, readers, before reading this post, knew what "khodafez" meant? Exactly. My personal motto in life is "style over substance". In this case, it works perfectly. The allure, the intrigue, over a mysterious language such as Farsi is much more fulfilling than French. This is not to say I hate French or am denigrating it - quite the opposite. I love French. Je suis un etudiant de la langue. But it is worth discovering other languages, not just the common ones that everyone and their mother knows or is learning.

There are an estimated 6800 languages in the world today. Try and discover a new one today. For the esoterically inclined, there's Aymara and Oubykh. For those who want something that's rather well-known but want an exotic flair, there's Hawaiian, or Korean, or Danish. Discover something.

Now, I bid you, dear Reader, adieu, or as you might expect:


1 comment:

  1. I didn't notice your use of the word "Khuda Hafiz"- I think it's because I'm a new follower. Anyway, I thought I'd add a bit *-* Khuda means God and Hafiz means someone who protects so it means "May God protect you". There's another variation of this used more commonly in Pakistan which is "Allah Hafiz" which is essentially the same thing- just that the Arabic word for God (Allah) replaced the Persian (Khuda).
    Anyway, this was a very interesting post. I think etymology is something that everyone should study because it really opens up bridges to other languages hidden in our own (: