Ben Zimmer in WSJ on "Boko Haram"

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU
Sat May 10 19:19:37 UTC 2014

Ben Zimmer continues his  weekly very interesting Wall Street Journal column today
with an article on  the origin of "Boko" of "Boko Haram." Maybe someone can provide a link
to the article.

I'm curious about one statement though. "Hausa already had a  well established word for 'book':
'littafi' derived from Arabic."

I know no Hausa at all and minimal Arabic.  But I'm aware only of "kitab" as the Arabic word for "book."
Arabic does have an L-T-F root meaning "soft, gentle, gracious" (turns up in the female name Latifah; cf. Queen Latifa). Is that the root which provided Hausa "littafi"?

Gerald Cohen

The American Dialect Society -

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