Tuesday, January 8, 2008

qaid and qadi

In my search for u-less “q” words (see: qi), I have found two more good ones: “qaid” and “qadi.” Qaid has been listed in Scrabble and other dictionaries for more than thirty years so it should be widely accepted in most friendly Scrabble games. Qadi appears in newer Scrabble editions and might require a bit more negotiation if a current dictionary is not available.

A “qaid” is a Muslim leader. The word can also be spelled caid and has plural forms of qaids and caids. It is usually pronounced “ka-EETH,” rhyming with Sayid , Naveen Andrews’ character on the television show Lost. A second pronunciation, “kithe,” rhyming with the word “tithe,” is also listed. It comes from the Arabic words "al+qadi" meaning “the qadi” or “the judge.”

The Muslim word for judge from which qaid is derived, “qadi,” appears in newer Scrabble dictionaries, immediately before qaid. It is pronounced “kah-dee.” An alternate spelling is cadi and the plural forms are qadis and cadis.

The words qaid and qadi bring to my mind “al Qaida,” the Islamic fundamentalist organization that we all associate with Osama Bin Laden and several terrorist attacks, especially the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. It seems to me that the words qaid, qadi and al Qaida are probably somehow related. However, al Qaida comes from the Arabic words “al+q’ida” meaning “the base” or “the foundation,” which is not exactly the same root as “al+qadi” meaning “the judge.” Still, al+qadi doesn’t seem all that different from al+q’ida, and “the judge” and “the base or foundation” could be considered synonyms of a sort in a legal sense. I guess it is possible that the words are related, but I don’t know for sure.

Few Americans are familiar with the word qaid, even though it has been in our dictionaries, and not just our Scrabble dictionaries, for years. On the other hand, nearly all Americans are familiar with al Qaida, which is not in the dictionary yet. It will get there eventually, and, in time, it may even lose its capital “Q,” become a common noun, and thus become an eligible Scrabble word.

There is precedent for this in the word “nazi,” which has been in Scrabble dictionaries for over thirty years. A member of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party is a Nazi, with a capital “N.” A fascist who holds similar views to the Nazis, but is not necessarily a member of the party, can be called a nazi, without a capital “N.” In fact, anyone who is considered overly regimented or dictatorial in today’s world can be called a nazi. Remember the soup nazi on Seinfeld?

In years to come the word qaida or alqaida might be listed in the dictionary alongside qaid and qadi and be in common usage as a synonym for terrorist. If we have been able to desensitize ourselves to the horrors conjured up by the word Nazi to such an extent that we are now able to use it in Scrabble games and comedy sketches, perhaps we will someday be able to do the same thing with the word al Qaida.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your research into the words Qadi and Qaid is almost completely incorrect.

My mother tongue is Arabic and I can tell you that, since Arabic is a semetic language, every Arabic word has a three letter root. All you need to do is go back to the root to find out the meaning of any word.

Qadi and Qaid have completely different roots and are therefore unrelated.

Having similar letters does not mean a thing here. It's like someone with a very limited knowledge of English claiming that hair and hare have similar meanings.

Arabic is a beautiful rich language that draws upon other semetic languages that have existed since the dawn of humanity.

You guys should really carry out more thorough research before posting stuff on the net. I cannot emaigine how someone would publish information without being absolutely thorough.

Best regards and good luck.

K

Anonymous said...

Although I respect what "anonymous" has said. I find it interesting that someone so insistent on "more thorough research" would post a comment with such a blatant grammatical error. IMAGINE that!

-J

Anonymous said...

Likewise, anonymous #2: It's always a good idea to proofread your post before publishing it. "Emaigine" is not a grammatical error, it's a SPELLING error.

Gary Oberparleiter said...

I rarely do this; however, since I found this page searching for Scrabble words that start with 'Q' I figured it was apropos.

Spelling is an integral part of grammar, which defines proper word usage. Some rules of grammar pertain specifically to spelling, such as plurals and possessives.

So Anon#2 is correct. Additionally, since Anon#1's native tongue is Arabic I think we should be cutting him/her some slack on one little spelling error, especially when their point was to help educate those who don't have any first hand knowledge of this Semitic language.

By the way, both Anon#2 and Anon#3 lose points since neither of your grammar/spelling policing was able to pick up on the incorrect spelling of 'Semitic', which stems from 'semite'.

Rev said...

Anonymous #2 is a fallacious moron. It's trivially easy to do the small amount of research to determine whether Anonymous #1's claims are factual. I'm not an Arabic scholar, but I was able to verify his claims.

The fact is, the original article contained erroneous information. It's a special kind of silly to compare the relationship between two Arabic words that have been transliterated into the English alphabet.

The original poster made an honest mistake- unlike Anonymous #2 which used a trollish spelling flame due, presumably because he wasn't able to attach the content of the claims made by Anonymous #1.

Anonymous said...

AND Gary has another grammatical:
He writes "...he/she...their..."
That does NOT agree in number.

Anonymous said...

I just used Qadi as a 178 point word on wordfeud. I googled the word and it led me to this site.

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Also: Arabic is a semitic language, not "semetic", as far as my knowledge goes. Semetic does appear in dictionarie, but only user-made ones.

Rafael D. S.

Anonymous said...

You all are gay.

Anonymous said...

I second the original criticism that this post connects unrelated Arabic words based on their English spelling. Grammatical mistakes are not on the same scale as blatant factual errors based on a lack of research. The three words discussed - qaid, qadi and al-Qaida - all derive from different roots (q+w+d, q+dh+y and q+'+d). The basic meanings of these roots are "to lead," "to settle or conclude a matter" and "to sit." If one is to claim that despite their different roots the words are still related, one better have some decent proof from Arabic etymology.

- Charles

Anonymous said...

What does gay have to do with the price of fish?

Scenic said...

what bugs me about anonymous #1 is that he did not go on to tell us the meaning of the words. I am interested in that, and wasn't that the point of the original post? If you are going to tell someone what is wrong, then tell them also what is correct. you said they are unrelated, but that's all you said. what are their meanings, and their origins?

Anonymous said...

More trolls here than under a bridge on a hill. Jesus.

Can the original blogger retract their ridiculous half-assed attempts at arabic translation, and in future not label guesswork as 'research'.

Anonymous said...

…and have us all miss out on the glorious read this was? Surely not! And thank you, Charles! You answered the #1 question left to us by the #1 commenter, awesome that.

HICKORYHILLBILLY said...

....and now you know the REST OF THE STORY.

kim said...

Based on Charles post, I would have concluded the same as the OP. To interpret a language for which you have no experience is rather bold, however I will compare the OPs post with Charles. Note that Charles says the root of qaid is "to lead" and the OP says that qaid is a leader. Charles says that the root of qadi is "to settle or conclude a matter" and the OP says qadi is a judge. Correct me if I am wrong, but that is what a judge does. Comparing the third word, qaida is a stretch, so I dare not try.

For those of you who try to educate, thanks. I spare no comment to those who wish to lambast.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kim!

sendy said...

Great post.Just a quick note it is important that Arabic translation being accurate and efficient can indeed not be overstated. Especially in the ever faster moving world of globalized business, successful information and technology transfer within multinational businesses can make the difference between win or lose.