The people of Arabia are exceedingly ornate and poetical in expressing themselves. They swear by the splendor of light and the silence of night and love to talk in imagery as rich as the colors in their Turkoman prayer-rugs.
An American typewriting concern startled some people by advertising that more people use the Arabic alphabet than use either Roman or Chinese characters. They are very proud of their language and call it the language of the angels; they believe it is spoken in heaven. It is one of the most difficult languages in the world to master. According to our way of thinking the Arabs begin at the end of a sentence and write backward. They have 450 words meaning “line”, 822 words meaning “camel”, and 1037 words meaning “sword”.
The splendor of light and the silence of night, huh. Well, if it’s not true, it should be.
Language logger peeving about Eskimos notwithstanding, I rather enjoy this genre of writing. At least as much as, say, Mickey Spillane.
But what about the 822 words?
Google Translate only recognizes two words for camel, جمل (pronounced jamal) and جمللإنتشال السفن القديمة (tool to pick old ships??!?) So what are the other 820 words? And what’s with the hyphen in “Turkoman prayer-rugs”?
“Line” is a little more promising. Having experienced many a chaotic wait for various things – visas, food – in various Arab countries, I would have guessed that Arabs have no word for “line”, or as the Brits would have it, “queue”. But the translate mechanism identifies both nouns:
صف من الجنود
As for “sword”, we have:
سيف ,حسام, قوة عسكرية ,على إستعداد للهجوم المتبادل
(Sword, Hossam, Military force, to ready reciprocal attack)
Sometimes it’s better not to look too closely at these things.