Program and programming language don't have a known translation in Arabic. برمجة and برنامج are used, even though they aren't Arabic. Is there a native word that can be used instead?

  • This is a legitimate linguistic question about Arabic borrowings from Greek and Persian. I don't think it should be closed. – fdb Feb 5 '19 at 11:52
  • I don't know who downvoted this, but presumably it's because if the word is used by native Arabic speakers when speaking and writing about programming in Arabic, it is an Arabic word. Saying they "aren't Arabic" implies some unspecified and probably unjustifiable rule about what actually "is Arabic". Mohammed used plenty of words that had ultimately been borrowed from Aramaic and other languages (or constructed from such borrowings), and surely nobody would say he wasn't speaking and writing real Arabic as a result? – abarnert Feb 8 '19 at 23:34
  • I didn't know the origin of the word. Thanks everyone. :) – Sherif Ahmad Feb 9 '19 at 14:07

"Program" in English originally meant a structured list of things to happen (and it came from French from Latin from Greek for "edict" but that's not relevant). A computer program is a list of things for a computer to do, so the word was borrowed for that.

The common Arabic word for a structured list of things to happen is, to my knowledge, بَرْنَامَج barnāmaj. This was borrowed from Persian somewhere around 1500 years ago; while it might not appear in the Qur'an, it's been in Arabic longer than "program" has been in English. This then got verbed in Arabic just like "programming" did in English.

If you're looking for a pure Arabic form, you could potentially use something like جدول أعمال "itemized list of actions". But this would sound strange, like calling a computer program a "computer agenda" in English. I'd recommend sticking to the Persian words.

  • How to use بَرْنَامَج to correctly derive the equivalent to "programming" and "programming language"? برمجة seems derived from English not Arabic, isn't it? – Sherif Ahmad Feb 5 '19 at 11:30
  • 1
    @SherifAhmad. barjama برجمة is to barnāmaj as falsafa فلسفة is to faylasūf. English has nothing to do with it. – fdb Feb 5 '19 at 11:43
  • 1
    @SherifAhmad Exactly what fdb said. Compare Modern Persian barnâme. There's no English influence here, except in the decision to use the word for "agenda" for a computer program. – Draconis Feb 5 '19 at 15:35

barnāmaj is a loan word from (Middle) Persian; barmaja is a remodeling of the same word according to an Arabic pattern. Although of foreign origin, these are long established Arabic words.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.