Comparative Semitic Philology in the Middle Ages: From Sa'Adiah Gaon to Ibn Barun (10th-12th C.)

By Aharon Maman; David Lyons | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
LANGUAGE COMPARISON IN TREATISES
TRANSLATED INTO HEBREW

The works dealt with in the present study that were initially compiled in Arabic were, in part, subsequently translated into Hebrew:

The two major works of R. Jonah Ibn Janāḥ, Kitāb al-Lumaʿ and Kitāb al-ʾUṣūl (in practice, there are two parts of one large treatise called Kitāb al-Tanqῑḥ) were translated into Hebrew by R. Judah Ibn Tibbon. The Hebrew names of the two translations are, respectively, Sefer ha-Riqmah and Sefer ha-Shorashim. The minor works of Ibn Janāḥ were translated by several scholars: Kitāb al-Mustalḥaq was translated, as Sefer ha-Hassagah, by Obadiah ha-Sepharadi but has yet to be published.1 The several other translations, too, have also not yet been published.2 The grammatical treatises of R. Judah Ibn Balʿam, were likewise rendered into Hebrew, and the parts that survived have been published (Abramson 1975). The discussion that follows is principally founded on materials in Kitāb al-ʾUṣūl compared with the Hebrew rendering in Sefer haShorashim. In addition I used materials based on a comparison of Sefer HaHassagah with the original Mustalḥaq, together with the corresponding collation of versions in Ibn Balʿam's works, original and translation, to check my findings. The issue to be discussed, then, might be formulated as follows: What was the fate of the comparisons in Kitāb al-ʾUṣūl when converted into Hebrew as Shorashim? In other words, how do the comparisons, relate to each other in the two forms of this work: the original and the Hebrew translation?

Prima facie, a translation should reflect only what is contained in the original, no more and no less. In fact, however, this is not the case. There are occasional instances in which Ibn Tibbon adduces the comparison in the original verbatim but omits the Arabic example

1The translation was edited by the late D. Téné and is now in press. See Bacher's
introduction to Shorashim, p. xxx; Téné, 1972, p. 1386, §4.

2Téné, ibid. §§14.2; 14.4; 14.5; 56.1; 56.2.

-138-

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