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Is Her Name Semetic, Hebrew, or Arab?

22 July, 2017
Q My concern is about my niece's name. Her mother saw on the Internet the name "Samia", which means "noble". However, she named her daughter "Saamai", pronounced with the double "a" sound". Now, I looked this up in the Arabic dictionary, and saw that indeed, "Sami" means "noble", and Samia is derived from this word. However, "SAAmi" refers to the Semetic people, which usually means the Jewish or Hebrew peoples, just like anti-semetic means anti-Jewish. I figured that "SAAmia" is the female word for "Saami". Am I correct in thinking so? If not, please inform me what will the correct meaning of "SAAmia" be? I need to know, so I can be sure before telling my sister-in-law. Jazaka Allahu Khayrun for your kind efforts.

Answer

As-salamu ‘Alaykum dear sister,

Jazaka Allahu khayrun for giving us this opportunity to address this problem.

The popular usage of language today, especially by English speakers, can give rise to much misunderstanding of the actual meaning thus usage of words. For instance, that which pertains to Semitic is not a racial grouping, but a group of languages, which according to Wikipedia is spoken by over 300 million people throughout the Middle East, African, and Asia.

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Hebrew as in the Biblical language or more commonly referred to as ancient Hebrew/old Hebrew is a dead language i.e. it is extinct. This means that the Arabic language and the ancient Hebrew language have a common root. In fact, some Jews who have learnt Arabic, have found that it has improved their Hebrew i.e. modern Hebrew (no relation to ancient Hebrew).

In Arabic, the name is Samia (female), Sami (male) and in modern Hebrew, the name is Sami (male), with the same meaning as it does in Turkish, and Farsi (Persian).

In Aramaic, also a Semitic language, Samia means listener. “Sameh”, not Sami in Arabic means the one who forgives. Samiya in Hindu means a celestial dancer, and Sami/Sammy in Europe is short for Samuel or Samantha.

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Then we have the Sami indigenous people of Norway, and is the name of a group of languages in northern Europe,

In terms of the Arabic language, once you get the pronunciation right, then the meaning will follow.


 

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About Hwaa Irfan
Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.