Rare Japanese art

I was sick and few of my friends bought me apples. Among them one of the apples had a letter on it. After checking with a friend I figured that it was a Japanese character in Kanji that means ‘house’.

From Ms Asha Chandran Nair


Editor’s note: The picture of the apple sent to Gulf News by the reader is an example of a Japanese art form in fruit growing. After research we found that Japanese farms are known for their rare fruits and the farmers for the hard work they put in growing luxurious produce. A little stencil is applied to each apple, so they bear a little kanji before they are individually wrapped after being ripened on the tree. Due to the effort that goes into each item these rare fruits can be very highly priced. Japanese often use fruits as gifts, some of the fruits are naturally perfect and others are engineered to taste and look perfect.


It was horrible the way in which Nelson Mandela was depicted in the Gulf News edition published on Sunday, February 3. I was wondering if you would allow yourself to publish such a caricature of other dignitaries (‘Nelson Mandela: A giant of our times,’ Gulf News, February 3)? Even if you obviously wanted to honour Mandela for his character and achievements, the illustration is not acceptable.

From Mr Jost Schmid


Editor’s note: By definition, a caricature is a picture, description, or imitation of a person or thing in which certain characteristics are exaggerated to create a comic or grotesque effect. This is different from a portrait, wherein you represent the subject as close as possible to the original. Both are valid illustration techniques and for this specific article Gulf News decided to go with a caricature to add a festive element. There was no intent whatsoever to disrespect Nelson Mandela. We have the greatest respect for him and his work. We welcome all feedback, as it helps the newspaper stay relevant.

Lack of consistency

This is with reference to Gulf News ‘It’s Arabic’ column. I regret to say it has displayed intellectual dishonesty regarding many of its chosen words. Whether it’s intentional or not, I cannot claim to know - but there is certainly a sort of insidious linguistic one-upmanship. This is my chief concern that much of the etymology of the chosen words thus far abruptly stop at only their Arabic transmission.

A host of these words, such as some of those listed below, I have found via simple research to be in contention of having their linguistic roots stretching much further back than just the Arabic as is claimed in the column: Orange (Sanskrit), Lemon (Sanskrit), Sugar (Sanskrit), Carat (Greek), Amber (Persian), Saffron (Persian), Cumin (Sumerian) and Parrot (No consensus on the root).

I would advise to either be transparent and consistent (like with the word ‘Candy’) so as to attribute the root of those specific Arabic words to their rightful origination if you are going to do it with the English-Arabic transmission. At the very least use words that explicitly have derived directly from only Arabic if you don’t wish to be contentious (Admiral, Alcohol, Wadi, Harem, Magazine). Otherwise this column is nothing more than an exercise in linguistic gymnastics and is shamefully promoting intellectual dishonesty or at the very least poor research to your readership.

From Mr Amar Diwakar

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Editor’s note: We thank the reader for his comments, and we agree that in some cases we have not given the full history of a particular word, which may have entered Arabic from many other languages, including Persian, Sanskrit, and Greek, so far in the list we have published. This is not due to “intellectual dishonesty” but more prosaically due to limited space. We undertake to write a longer article, in which we will discuss the source of some of these Arabic words. The metaphysical poet of the 17th century John Dunne said: “No man is an island.” Nor is any language.

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