“Shindagha” .. Mystery of the ambiguous name

مجلة مدارات ونقوش – العدد 8

 292 عدد المشاهدات

Jamal Bin Huwaireb

Shindagha is a vocabulary that does not exist in Arab dictionaries, which indicates that its letters had been changed or reversed. Moreover, it is not mentioned in the geographical dictionaries, which makes it unique and has no resemblance among the names of locations. Therefore, knowledge urges us to search for this vocabulary trying to reach its meaning and derivation through news, language and what is compatible with etymology.


Names of locations in Arab countries are one of the dilemmas facing Arab geographers in the present and the past. Tracing the statements of the early Arab geographers about locations, one can find them marvellous. The meaning, the origin of derivation and the reason for naming some of the locations were defined, while others were interpreted according to the meanings that came to the mind of the geographer. Other locations were difficult for geographers to interpret, and consequently they gave up.
You may find some of these derivations strange, as stated by Arabian Peninsula scholar Hamad Al Jassir (1910-2000), in one of his articles in his magazine «Arabs» in which he talks about Mu’jam al-Buldan (the lexicon of countries) by Yaqut al-Hamawi:
“After many journeys, I reached a conclusion that we should not limit ourselves to the knowledge of our ancestors of early scholars regarding the aspect of the geographical studies on the explanation of the names of the old locations. Rather, we need to expand the depth and breadth of researches; the fields of knowledge have extended and the horizons of science have become unlimited in time and place, growing and renewing continuously”
I say: If Hamad Al Jassir – famous for being well aware of this uncommon science that only few scholars could fathom across history – admits that etymology of names of old locations needs reconsideration and further studies to unveil the absent truth, what should we say about the locations that weren’t mentioned in old references or by early linguists such as the name of Shindagha.
Shindagha is a vocabulary that does not exist in Arab dictionaries, therefore knowledge urges us to search for this vocabulary trying to identify its meaning and derivation through news, language and what is compatible with etymology including form, plant, animal or otherwise, that made people give it this name. Ironically, I was once in an area in Lisbon and I asked my host “what is the name of this area?”. (Kashkash) replied my friend telling me that it is an Arabic name. This name evoked me to know its origin, and after researching I found that this area was named after a snake found in large numbers across the area, the Arabs call it (Khashkhash). I have learned two benefits of this information: I knew the shape of (Khashkhash) and why this place was given this name.
After researching for many years in etymology I found these results about Shindagha, I do not say that they are absolutely true, but the closest to the correct explanation. I say:
 First: the origin of Shindagha is Shindaqa, because the word “Shadgh” is not found in Arabic. Consequently, the old pronunciation of this vocabulary is Shindaqa, where the letter “q” has been replaced by “g” as it was customary for the people of this country.
Second: Shindagha is located in the Emirate of Dubai and this area is undoubtedly Arabic, in which only Arabic names are given to areas. It is unlikely for Arabs to give foreign names to their locations, unless the region is located in non Arabic countries.
The Arab conquerors have Arabized many of the foreign names and they have also given Arabic names to several modern places, examples of which are found in the country dictionaries.
Shindagha is a famous area in Dubai, and was home to the rulers of Dubai, as well as ancient Arab families. I also mentioned that “Shindagha” is an Arabic name where the letter “q” was replaced by “g” as it was customary for the people of this area and other Gulf areas, for the word “Shadgh” is not found in Arabic.
One might ask “If Shindagha was an Arabic word. What does it mean?”. The answer: We need search in the dictionaries and the names of Arab villages and proper nouns in addition to a thorough study in the ancient Arabic dialects in order to reach the nearest and most accepted derivations by schoolars. I say:
The first explanation: Lisan Al-Arab Dictionary mentions “Shadq: is the side of the mouth, Shadqa Al wadi (two sides of the valley)”.
I say: If you look at a vertical image of Shindagha, you will find it has the shape of Shadq (human jaw). Rather, if you also want to locate it, you will find it on a city side which makes this explanation and derivation fairly logical.
One might object saying: “How was the letter “n” added between “sh” and “d” in Shindagha?”. The answer: tracing the old Arabic methods, we find the Arabs add “n” in some vocabularies as Ghunna (nasal twang). With frequent use, this addition became a genuine letter in the word.
Ibn Manzur in his book Lisan Al-Arab says: »some Arabs, unintentionally, say Hanz instead of Haz (luck), which is a Ghunna used in stressed letters as is indicated by the fact that the plural of Hanz is Huzuz . Al-Azhari says: “some people of Homs say Hanz and use Huzuz as the plural form. For them the letter “n” is Ghunna but they make it a genuine letter pronouncing “n” as Ghunna in stressed letters such as Runz (rice) originally Ruz and Autrunjah (citron) originally Autrujah”«
I say: If Arab Verbalists used to add the letter “n” in their speech, rather it should be more frequently used by those who came after them speaking vernacular such as ours.
The second explanation: It is weaker than the first one. But as I mentioned, it is an attempt to reach the closest logical derivation. So let us assume that “n” is genuine or was added and became genuine as in Shandaq. Searching for this vocabulary in Arabic dialects and our available sources we will find that there are many Arab families with the Shandaq surname. There is also a district in Taiz, Yemen called Shandaq.
In his book “Almalhoun Dictionary “, Mr. Mohamed El Fassi interpreted the word Shanadeq saying: “Shandaq is the hawk and the skilled Knight”. Lisan Al-Arab Dictionary mentions:” Shandaq is an Arabized foreign name”.
All of this leads to the fact that Shandaq is an Arabic word that is spread among the Arabs in the east and west of the Arab countries. El Fassi explained it although we didn’t find its origin in old grammar books. Lexicographers presume that this word is Arabized, yet Arabized words are treated as Arabic ones in our beloved language.
One of my cousins told me that “Shindagha” might be taken form “Shifdagha” (frog in our dialect and in standard Arabic) where the letter “f” was changed to “n”. I say: it might be but it is unlikely.
However, those who presumed that “Shindagha” is a foreign compound vocabulary are totally wrong.