in Arabic calāl جلال [#cll msd.] means :

  1. great and majestic
  2. greatness

this word derives from Arabic calla " great"- Aramean gēl, galā " mound"

When I saw this Arabic word, I compared it to the word "excellent" in English.

etymology of the word excellent:

ex "out from" (see ex-) + -cellere "rise high, tower," related to celsus "high, lofty, great," from PIE root *kel- (2) "to be prominent; hill."

From ex- +‎ *cellō (“to rise”), one lost verb whose participle is celsus, from Proto-Indo-European *kelH- (“to rise”) (whence collis, columen etc.).

Are the English and Arabic forms related? Is it evidence for Indo-Semitic?


Arabic جلال (jalāl) is a well-established part of the triconsonantal root system, built from the root JLL "greatness, magnitude, height".

"Excellent" meanwhile has cognates all across the Indo-European world (in Italic, Germanic, Hellenic, Balto-Slavic, and possibly others), which all trace back very nicely to a reconstructed root *k-lH "to be tall".

So if there was a borrowing or relationship, it happened long, long ago, back before Arabic and English existed, in the distant era of Proto-Semitic and Proto-Indo-European. (Otherwise we wouldn't see it so well-integrated into the descendant languages.)

Is it possible that Proto-Semitic and Proto-Indo-European influenced each other, or one borrowed the word from another, or they both got it from the same source, or they both descend from a common ancestor? Sure! Could this word be evidence for a relationship? Absolutely! Especially since, if I remember right, Arabic j descends from Proto-Semitic *g, a velar.

But, and this is an important "but", it takes a whole lot more than one word to establish a relationship between two languages. Languages have a lot of words in them, so the law of large numbers says you're practically guaranteed to find some similar-looking words between any two languages if you look hard enough. And that applies to Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Semitic even more than it applies to modern languages, due to the inherent uncertainties in the reconstructions. It's not hard to come up with a dozen coincidental similarities between Swahili and Japanese, or Basque and Nahuatl, or any two languages you pick.

So this could be evidence for "Indo-Semitic", or it could be a complete coincidence. And until you have a whole lot more evidence, hundreds of words at least with clear phonological (and ideally morphological) correspondences between PIE and PS, the null hypothesis is that the two are unrelated.

  • You know that you have to statistically prove the null hypothesis, too? I could empirically prove that we have no clue, how about that for a null hypothesis? On another note: a marijuana dealer at the park gave me what I would transcribe as gilijam from Nigerian Hausa when I pointed at a sloped 10m high embankment asking for "hill" after "mountain" yielded a different answer. However I can't find it in the three slim dictionaries that I checked and hadn't asked for repitition. Hausa has a few Arabic loan words though. Surely there's a better source to confirm the root as Afro-Asiatic – vectory Sep 17 '19 at 19:24
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    @vectory The burden of proof isn't on the null hypothesis, it's on whoever wants to disprove the null hypothesis (and show some sort of connection). That's just the standard in science. – Draconis Sep 17 '19 at 19:35
  • How post-hoc power calculation is like a shit sandwhich (grep for "null"). If you understand half of that, go ahead and talk about statistics. I don't and might just test the roots on being related to anything, and failing to prove that, hold the opposite to be true, though in disagreement with your result. Then we can bicker about experiment design and return to the question whether it's useful to assume a happy Indo-Semite reach-around as research target sampling a population of 1. – vectory Sep 18 '19 at 0:56
  • @vectory I'm not quite sure what that article has to do with anything. P-values are a statistical tool used to evaluate hypotheses, and there are some important reasons why they're not a magic bullet (and shouldn't be blindly trusted), yes. But that doesn't mean that the burden of proof is now on the null hypothesis. The standard in science is that, if you want to reject the null hypothesis, you need substantial evidence to do so—you can't just turn around and say "well can you prove that there isn't a teapot in orbit around the sun?" – Draconis Sep 18 '19 at 1:04
  • Well sure you can, it's called scepticizm. – vectory Sep 18 '19 at 13:27

No, they are not related, or even similar.

جلال is /ʤalaal/ or /galaal/.

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    This post would benefit from adding further details. Being a one-line post, it may attract downvotes and criticism. Please edit it to add further relevant information — preferably with references to credible sources. – bytebuster Sep 17 '19 at 0:46

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