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beni

English translation: children or descendants of

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
Arabic term or phrase:beni
English translation:children or descendants of
Entered by: Fuad Yahya
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17:12 Jun 19, 2001
Arabic to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary
Arabic term or phrase: beni
Hi,

I'm doing a piece on Valencia in Spain and many of the towns seem to have this prefix dating back to the days of the Caliphate.

Would I be right in guessing that it means "homestead" or even "house" or is there a better translation?

My Arabic is virtually non-existant,

but "shukran" fro your help,

Berni
Berni Armstrong
Local time: 01:41
literally, “children or descendants of,” mostly used for familial or tribal designations
Explanation:
BANU and BANI (short A, about equal stress on the two syllables) are the two inflections (nominative and accusative-dative-genitive, respectively) of a collective noun contracted from BANOON and BANEEN, which mean "sons of, but more generally, "children or descendants of." BANU is the filial counterparts to ABU (“father of”).

BANU has been used since ancient times in reference to familial, dynastic, tribal, and even national groups, typically thought of as descendants of a common male ancestor. The Qur’an refers to the Israelites as BANU ISRA’EEL (X:46) and BANI ISRA’EEL (II:40). The Abbasi dynasty that ruled the Islamic world from Baghdad were referred to as BANU AL-ABBAS. The family in which the Prophet Muhammad was born was called BANU HASHIM. In this sense, “house of” is not far off.

Indeed, Arabs referred to themselves as BANU YA’RUB, and during their early contacts with Europeans sometimes called them BANU AL-ASFAR (“children of the yellow one,” possibly referring to the pale pigmentation of their skin and hair). Humanity as a whole is called BANU ADAM.

With the degeneration of Arabic into regional dialects, case inflections disappeared from conversational Arabic, which favored word order as a structural paradigm. Outside of classical Arabic, BANU became superfluous, while BANI survived the linguistic devolution. Since locales often take their names from their inhabitants, it is not unusual to find place names with the prefix BANI. The European spelling BENI is clever in that it accurately captures the sound of the short A.

Webster’s New Geographical Dictionary mentions Beni Abbes (Morocco), Beni Hasan (Egypt), Beni Saf (Algeria), and Beni Suef (Egypt), but no Valencian or Spanish place names with the prefix "Beni".


The web site of the University of Valencia has the following to say about this topic:

http://www.uv.es/ICOM-3/FORcity/community.html

“Other mementos of five centuries of Islamic settlement are the names of towns, cities and rivers. A town that begins with "Al" (Arabic for "the") is a giveaway. Alicante is a prime example. Those that begin with "Beni" (such as Benidorm) are what remain of the one-time Muslim tribal districts of Valencia. The word means "sons of" and in the Middle East and North Africa was commonly matched with a proper name to identify a tribe. And, as elsewhere in northern Spain, river and gorge names beginning with "guad" are also derived from Arabic. The word is a deformation of "wadi", which means valley.”

Fuad
Selected response from:

Fuad Yahya
Grading comment
Shukran to you all.

But Fuad's answer had the most convincing detail.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
na +1literally, “children or descendants of,” mostly used for familial or tribal designationsFuad Yahya
naChildren of-
Alaa Zeineldine
napeople, tribe, kin
Parrot


  

Answers


25 mins
people, tribe, kin


Explanation:
Comes from "banu" (people, tribe or kin). The second word that appears may be a proper name, eponymous ancestor, etc.
Ahlan!


    About a couple of years in Coranic school.
Parrot
Spain
Local time: 01:41
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 4
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

27 mins
Children of-


Explanation:
That's just one possibility. Reseach several town names and see if the second part of the name can possibly be the name of a clan, a tribe, or an ancestor. That might prove this hypoethesis. Examples from Egypt, are the towns of Beni-Swaif and Beni-Murr. I am sure in the rest of Norht Africa there may be similar towns named after a clan or tribe.

However, closer to Spain in the Maraqesh countries, it is more common to name clans using the patronymic prefix "bou-" (pronounced boo), such as bou-tafliqa (the current president of Morrocco) and bou-Madyan. This is similar to the use of "Mac" prefix in Scotland.

Let us know when you reach a conclusion.

Alaa Zeineldine

Alaa Zeineldine
Egypt
Local time: 02:41
Native speaker of: Native in ArabicArabic, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 431
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

4 hrs peer agreement (net): +1
literally, “children or descendants of,” mostly used for familial or tribal designations


Explanation:
BANU and BANI (short A, about equal stress on the two syllables) are the two inflections (nominative and accusative-dative-genitive, respectively) of a collective noun contracted from BANOON and BANEEN, which mean "sons of, but more generally, "children or descendants of." BANU is the filial counterparts to ABU (“father of”).

BANU has been used since ancient times in reference to familial, dynastic, tribal, and even national groups, typically thought of as descendants of a common male ancestor. The Qur’an refers to the Israelites as BANU ISRA’EEL (X:46) and BANI ISRA’EEL (II:40). The Abbasi dynasty that ruled the Islamic world from Baghdad were referred to as BANU AL-ABBAS. The family in which the Prophet Muhammad was born was called BANU HASHIM. In this sense, “house of” is not far off.

Indeed, Arabs referred to themselves as BANU YA’RUB, and during their early contacts with Europeans sometimes called them BANU AL-ASFAR (“children of the yellow one,” possibly referring to the pale pigmentation of their skin and hair). Humanity as a whole is called BANU ADAM.

With the degeneration of Arabic into regional dialects, case inflections disappeared from conversational Arabic, which favored word order as a structural paradigm. Outside of classical Arabic, BANU became superfluous, while BANI survived the linguistic devolution. Since locales often take their names from their inhabitants, it is not unusual to find place names with the prefix BANI. The European spelling BENI is clever in that it accurately captures the sound of the short A.

Webster’s New Geographical Dictionary mentions Beni Abbes (Morocco), Beni Hasan (Egypt), Beni Saf (Algeria), and Beni Suef (Egypt), but no Valencian or Spanish place names with the prefix "Beni".


The web site of the University of Valencia has the following to say about this topic:

http://www.uv.es/ICOM-3/FORcity/community.html

“Other mementos of five centuries of Islamic settlement are the names of towns, cities and rivers. A town that begins with "Al" (Arabic for "the") is a giveaway. Alicante is a prime example. Those that begin with "Beni" (such as Benidorm) are what remain of the one-time Muslim tribal districts of Valencia. The word means "sons of" and in the Middle East and North Africa was commonly matched with a proper name to identify a tribe. And, as elsewhere in northern Spain, river and gorge names beginning with "guad" are also derived from Arabic. The word is a deformation of "wadi", which means valley.”

Fuad


    See citations above
Fuad Yahya
Native speaker of: Native in ArabicArabic, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 2542
Grading comment
Shukran to you all.

But Fuad's answer had the most convincing detail.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  AhmedAMS
41 days
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)




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