echoandsway (echoandsway) wrote in linguaphiles,

Obscure Etymology Question for Turkish/Arabic/Tamazight Speakers

...But it's driving me to distraction (because I'm That Nerd is why), and I've asked around on a couple of language-specific boards -- and to native speakers I know, and the answer has been, "Hmm! That's a good question. I really don't know..." So I throw it out here, too.

Short question: Does anyone here know which language the Algerian-specific word "saha" -- "thank you" -- comes from? I'm thinking it is possibly from the Turkish "sağ olun," via the Ottoman Era. Does anyone who speaks Turkish think this seems to be a legitimate cognate? Barring that, is it a word that is familiar to any Arabic speakers here?

Long explanation: A lot of people in Algeria usually speak either Darija Arabic or Kabyle but not both; despite people disliking it for obvious reasons, French is the unofficially-recognized lingua franca bridging the gap. To say "thank you" in Algeria, I kept running into "saha." I was informed cheerfully by various people that "no one" said "merci" or "shukran" (I quote "no one" because that's a pretty sweeping statement): the standard thank you for everybody is "saha." I have been told by a Moroccan (Arab, not Amazigh) friend that "saha" is a specifically Algerian word. She places it firmly within Darija (Maghrebi Arabic), but doesn't know how it came about. My fiance (and various members of his family), whose first language is Kabyle, swears its "real" origin is Kabyle, not Arabic. Since they are from urban Algiers, they concede that "people in parts of Kabylie might use something else."

Frankly, language is strongly tied into politics and national/ethnic identity there, so it's possible no one wants to give the other language credit for such a universally "Algerian" word, so it might be hard to get a straight answer.

I can't find a cognate in Arabic which would suggest origins there, but who knows; so many dialects with many nuances. So...

A Tamazight word? Well...
- The dictionary word for "thanks" in Kabyle: "tannmirt"
- Moroccan Tamazigh dialects I've asked speakers of: some variation of "tanmert"
- Tamashek (Tuareg): "tanumert"
- Chaoui: "tanmirt"

...Same word, all over. Guessing this is not where "saha" came out of, even with Kabyle's really hard (for me to get right) orthography.

Can't find an obvious cognate in other African languages. Wondered if it came out of Turkish somehow during Ottoman rule. Google tells me the "friendly" way to say "thanks" is "sağ olun." This looks very possible as a cognate, and might explain if it is more western Algerien/urban-specific.

...Anyone? Saha bezef (Or tannmirt, or shukran, or sağ olun, or...)
Tags: arabic, etymology, language origins, politics of language/political language, turkish

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