Ibrahim is Abarham, but is Serra Sarah? Is Homer Ömer?
I was hanging out with a Turkish friend last week and we started talking about names that appear in Christian and Muslim communities. Some are obviously from the same root:
Abraham / Ibrahim
Joseph / Yusuf
Mary / Maryam or Meryem
“What about your name?” I asked my friend, Serra, wondering if her name, too, was linked to the similar-sounding “Sarah.”
She said that it was Turkish in origin, but old Turkish, meaning “happy, joyful.”
One website of Turkish names says it means “crown.”
Another website charting Biblical names claims the etymology of “Sarah” to be the Hebrew noun sara, meaning princess or noble lady (connected to crown?). The same site offers closer analysis:
“The root שׁרר (srr) appears to be related to words in cognate languages that have to do with firmness and hardness and even to be substantial and truthful. Perhaps it’s a coincidence but these qualities are obviously those of a righteous ruler.”
So much in a name! I’m still not clear if Serra and Sarah share a root.
With names on the brain, this weekend at the beach, I started talking about the name Homer. I was thinking about the Simpsons. Maggie, Lisa, and Marge have pretty common names. Even Bart is something you hear from time to time. But “Homer?” My beach companion and I had never met a real, live, Homer.
“In Spanish, perhaps,” I added (I was thinking of “Homero”). “In Spanish, though, it would be pronounced without the ‘h’ sound. So more like ‘Omer’.”
Which begs the question, is it connected to the ubiquitous Ömers and Omars of the Middle East and now elsewhere?
In this case, the websites seem to be unanimous: No. “Homer” is derived from Greek meaning “hostage, pledge” and “Omer/Omar” comes from a Hebrew and Arabic root related to flourishing, long life, and civilization.
Along the way in my random searching, I also discovered that Matt Groening (the creator of The Simpsons) has a father and son named Homer. I also fell into an amazing Wikipedia hole, on the multinational translations of The Simpsons, including the local culture choices made in Quebec and Mexico.
Etymology… a lifelong hobby.