Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Mar 8 22:18:55 UTC 2008

On Sat, Mar 8, 2008 at 3:15 PM, Mark Mandel <thnidu at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Fri, Mar 7, 2008 at 10:51 PM, Herb Stahlke <hfwstahlke at gmail.com> wrote:
> > I came across "Emirati" today for the first time as a term for citizens of
> > United Arab Emirates.  It gets 4.93m hits on Google, so I'm obviously
> > behind
> > the wave.  An Arabic root, amir "commander", from which we ultimately get
> > "admiral," combined with the Latinate -ate suffix as in "professorate" or
> > "syndicate" plus the suffix -i borrowed from Arabic where it's an
> > adjectival marker as in "Baghdadi."  Its singular use is attested by the blogsite
> > name "An Emirati's thoughts" http://aethoughts.blogspot.com/.   Its plural is
> > "Emiratis" (56,600 hits)
> > http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4&section=0&article=106065&d=25&m=1&y=2008.
> > It's obviously an analogical form, but is this
> > Arabic+Latinate+Arabic(+English) morphological pattern found in other
> > forms,  or is Emirati(s) unique?
> possibly influenced by "emeriti"? -- for which at first I thought it was a
> typo

I believe the Arabic term for someone from the Emirates is
<imaaraati>, which is <imaara(t)> 'emirate' + the <-i> "nisba" suffix.
So you could view "emirati" as an imprecise transliteration of that on
the model of "emirate". Or perhaps it originated as more of an expat

Earliest I find from a quick check of the databases is from 1990:

1990 _Toronto Star_ 20 Aug. A11 (Factiva) Like many Emiratis, they
follow news of the gulf conflict constantly, tuning into local radio
stations and to the BBC World Service on short-wave radio every hour.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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