Alma: Is There a Concept of a “Soul” in Olde Spanishe?

26 Jul

This is an open question to the public, and if someone has an answer or opinion, I’d love to hear it. I took a history of Spain course back when I studied in Sevilla, and during one of the lessons, the professor taught us that just about any word in Spanish beginning with -al comes from Arabic. Works like almuerzo (lunch), alcohol, or almohada (pillow) derive from Arabic routes. The same can be said for alma, meaning soul. The Arabic influence in southern Spain brought in many things to the culture such as food, architecture, and of course, a different religion.

This makes me wonder: did the concept of a soul exist in Spanish before the Berbers invaded and brought their own beliefs? Is there a word in Spanish referring to a soul which can be traced back to before this time period, and if so, what are the connotations associated with it?


2 Responses to “Alma: Is There a Concept of a “Soul” in Olde Spanishe?”

  1. analia July 26, 2010 at 3:09 am #

    Almost any word beginning with -al comes from Arabic, but not alma. It comes from Latin anima (, same root as French âme and Italian anima. In fact Spanish has both alma and anima, the latter being used mostly for derivatives (animado, animoso, ánimo –compare French “état d’âme” with Spanish “estado de ánimo”).

    • Jon July 26, 2010 at 8:02 am #

      Thanks Analia! I guess that clears up any of the confusion. I appreciate the help.


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