View the h-africa Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in h-africa's June 2013 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in h-africa's June 2013 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the h-africa home page.
Sent: Friday, June 21, 2013 2:45 AM Subject: Re: Meaning of Toubab--Reply I thought I might follow up on this, since it's a hoary old question. Both Erin Pettigrew and Wikipedia cite the Delafosse article, but no-one reveals his conclusions, which is that the term is derived from the Arabic thawb (cloth, garment) through the (Arabic) word thawwab, clothes-seller, since the early Europeans were more likely to have made a mark as clothes sellers than doctors. It is apparently acceptable sound shift for thawwab to become toubab. I know nothing of west African linguistics, so can't comment on that, but I am reasonably sure that thawwab doesn't mean clothes-seller - I've checked Hans Wehr and Al Mawrid, and called a friend - so unless this is a Maghreb dialect? Delafosse's argument seems to rest entirely on his conviction that the sound shift in the final vowel of tabib -> toubab is well-nigh impossible. What he unfortunately doesn't do is give any suggestions as to when the term first came into use, apart from a vague "after 1292" (which was apparently the date of the first Europena visit to the region) and before the Portuguese arrived (otherwise Europeans would have been called "Tougals" or some such). It would clearly make a different to the argument if there was any evidence of the term being used before the arrival of the French in the area. The earliest recorded use of the word toubib in French seems to be 1617 (Mocquet, Voyages), so there's a reasonably large timeframe. Moquet's use of the word is in reference to a ship's doctor navigating off this coast, so the fit seems good. I know, I must get out more. Iain. --