Ojalá and Insh’Allah
One of my best friends is Muslim, as are a few other friends and acquaintances, so I’ve become used to seeing the word “insh’Allah” added to the ends of sentences online over the years to mean “hopefully” (or literally, “if Allah/God [is] willing.”)
At some point it occurred to me that “insh’Allah” sounded very similar to one of my favorite Spanish words, “ojalá” – which also means “hopefully.” Could there be a connection? I wondered.
If you haven’t guessed by now, “ojalá” does indeed derive from the Arabic “insh’Allah,” thanks to the Moors who ruled Spain.
(Since knowing this, when I text or email my friend something I’m hopeful about, I often type “hopefully/ojalá/inshAllah.”)
Another Spanish word that allegedly derives from Arabic: ¡Olé!
According to the book, “Everything You Need to Know About Latino History: 2008 Edition” by Himilce Novas, “Olé is a Spanish word adapted from ‘Allah,’ the Arabic name for God. So when Spaniards cry ‘¡Olé!’ at a bullfight, they are saying ‘Praise Allah!’ — even if they really mean ‘Viva,’ which is Spanish for ‘Long live!’ or in some circles, ‘Man Alive!’”
While looking through lists of Spanish words of Arabic origin I spotted several of my favorite words:
And since we’re on the topic, I may as well close with one of my favorite Spanish villancicos, “Peces en el Río,” which has a decidedly Arabic feel to it. (This is a rather lively version from Colombian group, Las Mujeres de mi Tierra.)