Sunday, May 27, 2007


"What's the origin of the term 'doogri'?"

For those that don't know, the Hebrew slang term dugri דוגרי means "straightforwardly, honestly". Someone who speaks dugri "tells it like it is". (For an in-depth look at the concept of "dugri" in Hebrew, it's well worth looking at Tamar Katriel's book, Dialogic Moments: From Soul Talks to Talk Radio in Israeli Culture, pages 150-4, which discuss the term, can be previewed here.)

Hebrew borrowed the word from Arabic, where it was spelled דע'רי - with the Arabic letter ghayn, which sounds more like the English letter "g". (Think of Gaza and Azza עזה, for another example.)

Arabic, in turn, borrowed the word from the Turkish dogru, presumably during the centuries of Ottoman rule over the Arabs.

While normally I would try to connect the word dogru to a familiar word in English, this won't happen here. When I have a Hebrew word that traces back to Greek or Latin, or even Persian or Sanskrit, it has an Indo-European root - and English is an Indo-European language. Turkish, on the other hand, is one of the Turkic languages, of which other members include Azerbaijani, Uzbek and Tatar. There are those who place the Turkic languages in a larger group - the Altaic languages, which includes Mongolian and Korean. So if dogra isn't related to either Indo-European or Semitic, we more or less come to a dead end etymologically here.

In any case, dogru has the following meanings in Turkish (from the Turkish Dictionary site):

1. straight.
2. true.
3. proper, suitable.
4. honest, good (person).
5. correct, accurate.
6. the truth.
7. math. line.
8. truly, correctly.
9. straight, directly.
10. /a/ toward, in the direction of.
11. /a/ toward, near the time of.
12. That´s true.
13. colloq. a correct answer (in a test).

The word may also be familiar to you through the name of one of Turkey's major political parties - the True Path Party or in Turkish: Doğru Yol Partisi or DYP.

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