Could there be some connection between Arabic falaha meaning to till the soil and German pflügen, Pflug or English plough, to plough?

  • 2
    Show us a dozen more examples of proposed cognates between Arabic initial /fal/ and English initial /pl/, and we might think there was, if they can be shown not to be borrowings. Otherwise, no.
    – jlawler
    May 12, 2014 at 17:53
  • @jlawler I have the impression that connections between Semitic and European languages, especially Greek and possibliy Latin, are no matter of intensive study. But I think that Old Greek took over a certain amount of Semitic words just because of cultural nearness and contact (Bible, sciences, arts etc.). Such borrowings must be single cases and I assume the words were assimilated in a way that the Semitic origin is hard to find. In any case is is not a matter where one can establish sound shifts as Grimm has found them out.
    – rogermue
    May 13, 2014 at 4:28
  • That's a lot of assumptions. They may all be true, and you may be completely right in this case. It's possible, like many such assumed things. But without other evidence to convince other linguists, it remains a private opinion.
    – jlawler
    May 13, 2014 at 14:40
  • I have the impression that connections between Semitic and European languages, especially Greek and possibly Latin, are no matter of intensive study: maybe not "intensive", but there's some work on the subject. You may be interested in Emilia Masson, Recherches sur les plus anciens emprunts sémitiques en grec, and in the more recent Rafał Rosół, Frühe semitische Lehnwörter im Griechischen.
    – TKR
    May 13, 2014 at 16:43
  • If you are interested in this topic, which continues to attract cranks en masse as well as the odd serious linguist, I would encourage you to consult not only the work of Theo Vennemann (as Colin Fine recommends in a comment below), but also the work of Saul Levin, if only for the impressive academic rigour involved (review at academia.edu/2210922/…). I would disagree strongly with the suggestion that little work exists in this area.
    – legatrix
    Sep 12, 2014 at 8:53

2 Answers 2


Probably not, at least not provably so. Since Arabic and Germanic aren't related (certainly not at a time depth shallower than the development of agriculture), the words can't be cognate. Could one be a borrowing from the other? Well, English plough has no clear cognates outside of West Germanic, while Arabic falaḥa has cognates in other Semitic languages (e.g. Hebrew p-l-ḥ "to divide, cut asunder"). If there was borrowing, then, it would have to have been either from a Semitic language into West Germanic, or from a West Germanic language into Proto-Semitic. The latter is impossible because Proto-Semitic predates West Germanic by milennia. The former isn't strictly impossible, but these aren't language groups that are known ever to have been in contact, so it is unlikely. One could hypothesize that borrowing occurred through some intermediary language, but that would be highly conjectural and completely unprovable.

  • Theo Veenemann has proposed a number of borrowings from Semitic into Germanic, (including 'ard => earth), and gets published in reputable places; but I don't think he's convinced many people.
    – Colin Fine
    May 13, 2014 at 19:06

this may help, there are many connections(not sure about the german one though, could have been done at the time of the crusades?), as we have been traditionally taught, the words in the Quraan rooted from the Arabic/Semitic Fa-La-Ha, i dont know its dual-roots, but here is a site i found with many reference most seem legit and accepted by Arabic scholars as well as Muslims scholars http://www.memidex.com/fellahin, anyways the connection to success is a bit obvious if you understand Islamic or Arab philosophy or even Sufism. Tilling the land for farming is how we use it, but farming takes steps stages, so example Allah has used it in Quraan Chapter 23 Verse 21 word No2 as aflaḥa, its a Verb in 3rd person masculine by gender singular form IV perfect(past) verb, know in Arabic the morphology is in form 4/IV which tends to means it makes intransitive verbs transitive, and transitive verbs doubly so. a verb is this form has the meaning of, he made himself do or perform an action. A reflexive causative, i.e. he made himself do something transformative to a place or a state. also see http://quran.com/23/1 tick all translations to compare and you'll see the basic idea So i hope this clears up the connection of Success and Farming, basically Fa-la-Ha means to go through a process to achieve in a given field, traditionally farming. so its kind of a root used in context of success, prospering, but it is used when the success is based on a systematic process in the connect above its been used in the past/perfect sense it has been completed it is so. hope this helps

  • 1
    You haven't mentioned European languages which means you haven't answered the question.
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 12, 2014 at 5:26
  • as I said "this may help, there are many connections(not sure about the German one though", the info I provided helps in Etymology, now the person knows the Arabic meanings and context, it is up to them to do more research in between the runic, Italic, romantic and Semitic languages. It the nature of linguistics you can never really get a definite answer with lost and forgotten languages (i.e. old English.firasian or high German etc...), others may be able to open up the English and German end of the theory Nov 16, 2017 at 12:08

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