My wife and I were listening to the song Yachad by Gaya, which contains the line:
ורק אם נאמין / ובלי שום דאווין
This site offers the following transliteration and translation:
Verak im na'amin,I think a better translation for the second half would be "with no showing off". I knew dahween meant "showing off" or "fuss", but I never knew why. Our best guess? Maybe it was a mispronunciation of (Charles) Darwin - was he a show-off? Or are those animals who choose to evolve considered pretentious?
uvli shum da'awin
If we only believe,
no mucking around
But no. Dahween is actually a back-formation, in the singular,from the Arabic dawaween, which is really the plural of diwan. According to Rosenthal, the word diwan means "a fanciful story" (from here our slang term), but also a "book of poems" (such as the Diwan of Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi) and a "salon". That's quite a collection of definitions - what's the connection?
Well, if you haven't noticed yet, the word "divan" in English can also mean:
1. A long backless sofa, especially one set with pillows against a wall.(Languagehat has a cute story here about a confused effort to translate divan in Tbilisi, Georgia.)
2. A counting room, tribunal, or public audience room in Muslim countries.
3. The seat used by an administrator when holding audience.
4. A government bureau or council chamber.
5. A coffeehouse or smoking room.
6. A book of poems, especially one written in Arabic or Persian by a single author.
The Online Etymology Dictionary tries to explain the development:
1586, "Oriental council of state," from Turk. divan, from Arabic diwan, from Pers. devan "bundle of written sheets, small book, collection of poems" (as in the "Divan i-Hafiz"), related to debir "writer." Sense evolved through "book of accounts," to "office of accounts," "custom house," "council chamber," then to "long, cushioned seat," such as are found along the walls in Middle Eastern council chambers. (See couch.) The sofa/couch sense was taken into Eng. 1702; the "book of poems" sense in 1823.The American Heritage Dictionary goes back a little further:
This would connect it to the Hebrew word daf דף - now meaning "page". Klein gives the following definition and etymology for daf:
French, from Turkish, from Persian divan, place of assembly, roster, probably from Old Iranian *dipivahanam, document house : Old Persian dipi-, writing, document (from Akkadian tuppu, tablet, letter, from Sumerian dub) + Old Persian vahanam, house
1. (Post-Biblical Hebrew) board, plank. 2. (Post-Biblical Hebrew) column (in a scroll). 3. (New Hebrew) leaf, page. [Together with JAram-Syr. דפא (=board, plank), Arabic daff (=side), borrowed from Akkadian (a)dappu, duppu, wich is a loan word from Sumerian dub. Arabic daffah (=cover of a book), is possibly derived from Aramaic.]He also writes that the Hebrew word dofen דופן - "wall, side" may be connected, as well as the Biblical word tafsar טפסר - "scribe":
A loan word from Akkadian dupsharru, from Sumerian dub-sar, literally meaning "tablet-writer", from dub (=table, tablet) and sar (=to write).Returning to more recent times, the dish "Chicken Divan" is related as well. This site gives the history:
Chicken Divan was the signature dish of a 1950s New York restaurant, the Divan Parisienne. It is the word "divan" itself that is of interest. In English, divan came to mean sofa, from the council chamber's benches, while in France it meant a meeting place or great hall. It was this meaning that attracted the notice of the owners of the New York restaurant as they searched for a name that would simply continental elegance.
But we can continue past the 1950s, into something even more recent. The linguist Yoram Meltzer writes here that Arabic bloggers have started adopting the word maduna for blog, and maduni for blogger. Both of those words derive from the divan meaning "record of accounts". Certainly an appropriate word for a blog, and there is no shortage of dahween in most blogs as well...