Today we look at two nouns rooted in Palestinian history —
1948 N a K B a
1967 N a K S a
Languages based on a root system are dendritic — consider trees, rivers, fractals..
Look at the two letters in blue b (ب ) s ( س )
But now a word from our sponsor:
On the day of Nakba, 700,000 people were exiled from their ancestral homes.
Andrew Jackson’s illegal exile of the Cherokees began in 1838. Jackson may not have said
“Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it,”
but the result was still dispossession.
President Jackson drove the Cherokee Nation into an exile called The Indian Territories until they in turn became Oklahoma. Native Americans now live in rural areas served by Food Desert convenience stores — they get to stay there until a monied interest drops straight edge on a map and calls it an access pipeline, or the equivalent.
We return you to your regularly scheduled program, in progress.
In each case (Trail of Tears, Nakba) people took luggable items, including the house keys. The six days of Naksa happened in 1967 (imprisonment).
Omar Chaaban defines these two for Sixteen Minutes to Palestine. I yield the words to Omar:
…they chose the word Nakba which, in Arabic, refers to a supreme calamity that happens once in an eon. That is to say, this disastrous collective experience exacted upon the Palestinians is an unprecedented trauma that had to be referred to by a word that communicates to the entire world that nothing can happen that is worse than being uprooted in the manner they were in the events leading to and following Israel’s declaration of statehood.
…the word Naksa does not really mean ‘setback.’ In classical Arabic, Naksa is used to describe an event where a thing is literally flipped upside down. The great Arabic lexicon Lisan Al-‘Arab — The Tongue of the Arab People — says that when a Naksa happens to a thing, its top becomes its bottom and its front becomes its back. It then goes as far as saying that in many cases a Naksa can be so bad that the chances of it being reversible are almost nonexistent and that no good can be found in it.
Arabic affixes a special letter to nouns of feminine gender. The grammatical term is “taa marbuta.” It’s also a handy way to create a new word in that language:
Maktab مكتب (office)
Maktaba مكتبة (library)
Coming real soon now: Mental Maps of Palestine
Thanks for reading.