Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sun Mar 9 01:56:51 UTC 2008

On Sat, Mar 8, 2008 at 7:22 PM, Herb Stahlke <hfwstahlke at gmail.com> wrote:
>  On Sat, Mar 8, 2008 at 5:18 PM, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
>  > 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
>  > mishearing/misparsing.
>  So is <imaaraati> native Arabic or borrowed from English "Emirati"?  If it's
>  native Arabic, then "Emirate" looks like a reanalysis using the English
>  suffix -ate, or is it, and this seems less likely, a calque?

AFAIK it's native Arabic, formed regularly from the root <?mr>, which
gives sing. <imaara(t)>, pl. <imaraat> [where (t) is the fem. ending
"ta' marbuta"], and then it becomes a demonym by application of the
nisba suffix <-i>. I think the similarity to the Latinate "-ate" of
"emirate" is purely coincidental. No need to posit a reanalysis -- cf.
"sultanate", "caliphate", "palatinate", etc.

 --Ben Zimmer

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

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