Porcelain Chamber of Secrets

Languages are a weird concept. We converse with one another in different sounds, with different words, just to say the same thing. Dialects are even weirder. Living in the south of England, my accent started off as very prim and proper, like the Queen’s English. Having moved across different continents and making friends from all over the world, my accent is now a strange, Trans-Atlantic mix.

An Egyptian friend of mine (who is fluent in Arabic) just pointed out to me how similar Arabic and Urdu are.

My spoken (modern day) Urdu is about 90% fluent, whereas my written is abysmal and I can barely read Urdu to save my life. I can read Arabic pretty well but Urdu is disgustingly hard for a foreigner/ex-pat such as myself. I can’t tell if a word is incorrect or just very archaic.

For example, if I’m reading the word that should mean “toilet”, instead of having a simple word for it, the Urdu
equivalent would be like “porcelain chamber of excretions” or some nonsense.

N.B. The word for toilet in Urdu is actually “ghusal khaana.” “Ghusal” means to wash/cleanse and “khaana” is an allotted space/chamber. Which is exactly what it means in Arabic too.

It’s strange how language can divide and unite people all at once. I myself can speak three languages pretty fluently and one semi-fluently and I love that. I think the more languages people speak, the closer we’ll get to understanding each other’s cultures.


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