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Can language and photography bring us together? MEMO in Conversation with Fadi BouKaram 'Cedrusk'

Ever wondered why certain words cross borders and are used the world over? Fadi BouKaram has made it his business to find out why

September 6, 2023 at 4:00 pm

Did you know the Arabic word for Austria – An-Namsa – comes from Proto-Slavic language and means ‘mute’ or someone who doesn’t speak and this was applied to anyone who could not speak a Slavic language? Why is the loquat fruit in Turkish called yeni dunya or ‘new world’ while in Arabic it’s called akideneh and iskidenya derived from the Turkish word eski dunya or the ‘old world’? Why do foreign learners of a language have a hard time understanding certain sounds in the language they are learning? 

Fadi BouKaram, better known as Cedrusk on Instagram, set out to explore the roots of different languages and the human stories behind them. 

A former professional photographer turned tax transparency lawyer by day and Instagram language nerd with a loyal following by night, BouKaram has popularised the study of etymology, or the origin of words, which takes him across different languages. Having grown up in Lebanon, lived in the United States and Ireland, different cultures, habits and customs have always interested him. His photography allowed him to explore the world and led him on the path to investigate languages. 

BouKaram grew up in Lebanon and earned a degree in engineering and business. However, by his thirties, he decided he needed a career change and went into the world of photography. In 2013, he was part of a collective of photographers who set up Observers Collective, a group dedicated to capturing the diverse humanity around them.