September 19, 2006

Abracadabra! Proof! - #19

In a photo, I recently mentioned the Abras of Dubai. An Abra is according to Wiki "a traditional boat made from wood used to transfer people in the Dubai creek". In reality, it's a very cheap way to cross a body of water... 2 stops, one very cheap rate...

HOW MUCH? you cry.... 50 fils (approx 15 cents) per journey... worth every cent dear chap!

How many modes of transport these days are worth every cent?




As an addendum:

The word - abracadabra

What we know for sure is that it was first recorded in a Latin medical poem, De medicina praecepta, by the Roman physician Quintus Serenus Sammonicus in the second century AD. It’s believed to have come into English via French and Latin from a Greek word abrasadabra (the change from s to c seems to have been through a confused transliteration of the Greek). Serenus Sammonicus said that to get well a sick person should wear an amulet around the neck, a piece of parchment inscribed with a triangular formula derived from the word, which acts like a funnel to drive the sickness out of the body:

A B R A C A D A B R A
A B R A C A D A B R
A B R A C A D A B
A B R A C A D A
A B R A C A D
A B R A C A
A B R A C
A B R A
A B R
A B
A


However, it seems likely that abracadabra is older and that it derives from one of the Semitic languages, though nobody can say for sure, because there is no written record before Serenus Sammonicus. For what it’s worth, here are some theories:

It’s from the Aramaic phrase avra kehdabra, meaning “I will create as I speak”.
The source is three Hebrew words, ab (father), ben (son), and ruach acadosch (holy spirit).
It’s from the Chaldean abbada ke dabra, meaning “perish like the word”.
It originated with a Gnostic sect in Alexandria called the Basilidians and was probably based on Abrasax, the name of their supreme deity (Abraxas in Latin sources).

So now we know...

1 comment:

Gail's Man said...

Abra's are great fun & always look forward to crossing the creek on one. Here in the UK it works out at about 10p. Bargain!