Arabic Language Day – three web-themed words of Arabic origin

Posted on December 17, 2021

 

Tomorrow will be World Arabic Language Day, commemorating the date in 1973 on which Arabic became one of the General Assembly of the United Nations’ official languages.

Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world, ahead of the likes of French and Russian, but comparatively little is known about it in the Western world. Some people might be aware that Arabic is written from right to left, and that the Arab world has played a crucial role in mathematics, with our numerals 0 to 9 referred to as “Arabic numerals”. Fewer people, however, understand how many everyday English words derive from the language.

Since many of them are related to mathematics, such as “algebra” and “zero”, it’s not surprising that Arabic words also creep into computing and, in turn, our industry of internet marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO). Here are three Arabic-origin words we use every day at Engage Web:

1. Algorithm

The general definition of an algorithm is a set of rules that are followed in a flowchart-style way in order to solve a problem. Usually, today, it is associated with computing and what search engines and social media sites do to operate effectively. Google, for example, is always updating its algorithms and recently completed one of its periodic core algorithm updates.

It might therefore seem surprising that the word algorithm gets its name from a Persian mathematician and astronomer who died over 1,000 years ago. Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, whose name was Latinised as Algorithmi, did not find his name used in mathematics until several centuries after his death, but today he lends it to an integral part of how the internet operates.

2. Traffic

A word that originally referred to people’s footfall and then was more commonly applied to motoring as urbanisation took hold, “traffic” has taken on yet another meaning as part of the Digital Revolution.

We often talk of a website receiving “traffic”, meaning internet users visiting and leaving the site. Whatever context it’s used in, the word derives from the Arabic “tafric”, referring to the “coming and going” of vehicles and people.

3. Magazine

People will usually think of a magazine as being analogue and physical, but we have been known to build “magazine websites” at Engage Web, meaning ones with steady content that display multiple stories on the front page in the way a news website would. The root of the word magazine is the Arabic “khazan”, meaning “to store”.

We love words at Engage Web, which is why our clients trust us to provide content development services, but we’re also keen to avoid jargon and communicate in a way everyone can understand. For straight-talking yet effective internet marketing and SEO, why not contact our team?

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.
John Murray
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