Happy Highlands
- Derivation of Sa`iidi

How they are written in Arabic
Some time back an experienced teacher in Australia mentioned to Denise Enan that she used to think that "sa`iidi" had something to do with Port Said. Denise looked confused and said - "but they are spelt differently".

There's the rub. We tend to use transliterations of Arabic words. That is, words are written down how we think they sound. So you see sa`iidi, saidi, saeedi etc.

In Arabic "sa`iid" is spelt sad `ayn ya dal - and means "highlands". So "Sa`iidi" means belonging to the highlands - or more specifically - Upper Egypt.

Port Said is named after Said Pasha in 1859. "Said" or "Sa`iid" is a name which means "fortunate" and is spelt sin `ayn ya dal.

Both sad and sin are s sounds. But the former is known as the "dark s". It does not really exist in English and is hard to pick up by a non-Arabic speaker. What usually gives it away is the effect on the vowels. Often it is transliterated by a capital s or an s with a dot under it - but more often this is ignored.

Which births the next myth, "sa`iidi" means "happy" - it is a happy dance. Yes, "sa`iid" does mean happy in Arabic, but it is not related to Sa`iidi dance which is from as sa`iid - the Egyptian highlands.

Baalbaki, R. (2000) 'Pocket Arabic-English Dictionary' 7th ed, Beirut: Dar el-ilm Lilmalayin
Wehr, H. (1994) Arabic-English Dictionary, 4th ed, Ithaca, NY: Spoken Languages Services

Article 2 - the Dark S

Also see Common Arabic Words and Dance Terms
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