AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

The Peculiarities of Language: ما تنكسني

Update: My brain totally punked me. Seems the connection between Arabic “Nakas (نَكَّسَ : فعل)” and English “Nix” is nonexistent. Pretty cool that the word means the same thing in three completely different languages!

I’ve been subconsciously wondering for a while if the word “Nix” (put an end to; “he nixed the deal just before it was to be signed”) comes from the shady presidency of Richard Nixon. My subconsciousness thought it must come from Nixon, because how other than politics would such a difficult English word make it into Jordanian vernacular?

Let me explain.

“Nakis” (literally, “to nix”) in Jordanian has a similar meaning to “Nix” in English. I am assuming it is unique to Jordan, but I honestly have no idea if other countries in the Levant use the word, too. A quick Google search looks super Jordanian:

Unfortunately for my curiousity, “Nix” is much older than Richard Nixon. It actually comes from from German nix, dialectal variant of nichts “nothing,” from Middle High German nihtes, from genitive of niht, nit “nothing,” from Old High German niwiht, from ni, ne “no” (see un- (1)) + wiht “thing, creature” (compare naught).

That means that “Nakes” somehow made it to our vernacular in a much more random way.

Any theories?

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4 Comments

  1. Malcolm Thomson

    I suspect that ‘nix’ was popularized via Yiddish and took hold particularly in the show-business newspaper ‘Variety’ published in the United States.

    http://variety.com/static-pages/slanguage-dictionary/#n

  2. Am not sure if I understand your curiosity, but it is pure Arabic word.

    نَكَّسَ ( فعل ):
    نكَّسَ ينكِّس ، تنكيسًا ، فهو مُنكِّس ، والمفعول مُنكَّس
    نَكَّسَ الطَّاوِلَةَ : قَلَبَهَا وَجَعَلَ أَعْلاَهَا أَسْفَلَهَا
    نكَّس العَلَمَ نكَسه ، نزَّله إلى الثُّلث الأخير من العمود لإعلان الحِداد الوطنيّ أو القوميّ أو الاستسلام علم مُنكَّس ،
    نكَّس رأسَه : نكسه ، طأطأه من ذلٍّ أو خزيٍ أو عار
    نكس رأسَه خجلاً : طأطأه خجلاً أو إحراجًا

    الفعل المجرد نَكَسَ

  3. Thank you Mesh :) I think this is a classic case of tripping too far.

  4. Malcolm, that would make sense, as it seems like “Nix” in Arabic is a really old and proper word, and not at all vernacular.

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