What should we do about the 'corn'

The Arab world, which includes North Africa and up to the Middle East, is divided between the Maghreb and the Maghreb.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
31 March 2024 Sunday 23:15
9 Reads
What should we do about the 'corn'

The Arab world, which includes North Africa and up to the Middle East, is divided between the Maghreb and the Maghreb. In the east, this Semitic language reaches as far as the Arabian peninsula, in the area known as Màixriq, a word that precisely means east. From Morocco to Libya, the western part of the countries of Arab culture, they are known by the word Maghrib, that is, west.

The word Moor, which has traditionally designated the citizens of the Maghreb even though it was born as a gentilici of the inhabitants of Mauritania, is today considered politically incorrect. Looking for its etymology, the name of the country and the corresponding gentilici are of Greek origin passing through Latin, and do not mean anything other than moreno, in reference to brown skin.

Since it is a physical trait, other names are used today, especially with reference to Arab culture, although it must not be forgotten that the Amazigh language is also present. In fact, in Catalonia the most spoken language after official languages ​​is Arabic, but Amazigh also appears prominently there, with percentages similar to those of Portuguese, French, English or Russian. Precisely the word Amazigh has replaced the traditional Berber, which in Greek origin meant barbarian.

The centuries of coexistence and disagreements between Christians and Muslims have given rise to a very colorful tradition in our house, such as the Moors and Christians festivals. And there is another locution that preserves the Moorish reference: corn. With the scientific name Zea mays, this grass plant has other names throughout Catalan-speaking countries, such as panís, panís de l'Indía, blat de la India or de las Indies, blat indi, milloc or milloca, moresque and dacsa .

And here the matter gets complicated: why is there reference in some places to a possible Maghreb origin and in others Indian? Based on scientific works, there is a coincidence in placing the origin of the plant in America. In fact, corn forms a substantial part of the culinary culture of this continent, and this justifies it being called wheat from India, from the Indies or turkey, in reference to its geographical origin.

As for the term Moor, it seems that it was used as a synonym for foreigner. In other words, something that came from outside, that was not "of all life", had to have a foreign origin, and for a long time the foreigners were the Moors. If we whitewash the dictionary, we have options such as panís, dacsa, milloc or milloca, but it is not at all strange that lexicalized expressions preserve and fossilize words from other times, which have fallen into disuse. And isn't that beautiful?