Possible Arabic Origins
I was wondering if anyone thought it was possible that usted could have developed from the Arabic term ustaadh (استاذ), which means "teacher." Given the Arab influence in Medieval Spain, what are the changes of such an influence? I haven't quite bought into the traditional vuestra merced > usted explanation. It sounds to me like the Jewish play on words between shamayim (שמים), meaning "heaven", and sham mayim (שם מים), meaning "there is water." Though this is interesting, it is surely not the real etymology of shamayim. Could the traditional explanation of the origins of usted be such an artsy play rather than a true account? Could the Spanish language have been influenced directly by the Arabic in this instance as it is in so many others (e.g., alfombra, álgebra, ojalá, etc.)? Yonah mishael 16:36, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
The rest of the internet says that the evolution from vuestra merced to usted is well-documented, and has well-documented parallels in closely-related languages. Further, it says that the abbreviation 'usted' is not found in Spanish writings until approximately 200 years after Spain fell out of Arab control. I'm having trouble finding a great cite for this, but I'm deleting the ustadh etymology until a better cite for that much more controversial theory is added.
Please see this link for an academic discussion of the etymology: http://www.academia.edu/4915784/Usted_Ustaad_Etymology_Re-examined