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July 3, 2008 Word of the Day: Ghori

Here’s a widely versatile Tamazight word: ghori. (BTY, the “gh” is more or less a bottom-of-the-throat gargling sound. It’s similar to last sound in “Bach”, but deeper and has a pronounced sound, not just air, behind it. It took me a long time to get it right, and I still probably don’t.)

The usual translation is “I have”, and it is used to indicate possession, as in I have tea. It can also be translated as “my place”, and that’s where the word vagues up beyond all recognition.

First off, it means “place” both literally and figuratively. You can use it to mean your home, your seat on a bus, etc. Figuratively, it more or less translates as “In my opinion” or “It seems to me,” but it’s stronger than that. There’s a regionally-used expression in the US – by which I mean that I’ve heard it, but when I used it during CBT, I discovered that folks from other parts of the country weren’t familiar with it – that goes, “…where I live…” It’s also used figuratively, not literally, and refers to something that affects you at a visceral level. You might hear, “That documentary Darfur was powerful; what got me where I live was seeing what’s happening to the women. [Or the children. Or whatever.]” It can be used to express anything with a deep personal resonance.

Ghori has that sort of meaning, too. If I say something is important ghori, it means that it’s viscerally, deep-down meaningful to me. Well, usually. Sometimes it does just mean “in my opinion.”

And, of course, it’s conjugatable. (It’s Tamazight, after all. There are virtually no words in Tam that have only one form.) Ghori, ghork, ghorm, ghors, ghorngh [which is a beast to pronounce], ghorun, ghorknt, ghorsn, ghorsnt.

There are a whole set of expressions that use it:

Ayd azad ghori = the best, IMHO
Qim ghori = stay with me (qim = sit or stay)
Ns ghori = spend the night with me [By the way, this has zero sexual connotation in Tamazight. It quite literally means spend a night sleeping in my home.]
Zri ghori = stop by my place (zri = pass by)
Illa ghori = I have in my possession, literally “There is, in my place” (also used to express ownership in the future, since “I have” has no direct future conjugation – you have to conjugate the illa, there is)
Sgh ghori = buy from me (sgh = buy)
Mnsu ghori = dine with me (mnsu = eat dinner)
Fdor ghori = have breakfast with me (fdor = eat breakfast)
Adud ghori = come here (adud = come)
Ghorm/ghork lHaq = you have the right OR you are right (funny how the same word means both things, in both English and Tam)

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