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 ELEVEN
DUNASH BEN LABRAT

Dunash b. Labrat did not compile any work specifically on language comparison. Nor did he write any systematic grammar book or lexicon. His “generic” productions, i.e. the retorts on R. Saʿadiah Gaʾon (attributed to Dunash) as well as the retorts against Menaḥem are of a polemical nature. In these works, he does no more than record his rejoinders on various issues of a grammatical or exegetical nature, raised in the works of other Hebrew grammarians. His retorts (alongside various issues) have a bearing on the comparative philology of Heb./Aram./Arab. Certain retorts relate to some specific comparison by either his mentor Saʿadiah Gaʾon or his rival Menaḥem b. Saruq. In some cases he rejects the comparison, whereas in others, in lieu of the sense proposed by them (Saʿadiah and/or Menaḥem), he suggests a sense for the word founded on comparison with Arabic or with Aramaic. For example, he utterly rejects Saʿadiah's comparison

(Schröter, p. 16, retort 50). Elsewhere, (ibid., p. 15, retort 45), he proposes the comparison , in disagreement with Saʿadiah's exegesis for the Bib. Heb. . There are, however, some retorts that discuss the fundamental aspects of language comparison. These materials have been dwelled on above (2.1; 2.2; 2.4, 5; 5.1.3). This chapter deals with the remaining comparison topics pertaining to Dunash, to the extent that this is possible via what is embedded in those retorts.

Here a certain change in the usual sequence of discussion has been made, comparisons with Arabic coming first on account of a certain methodological problem observed therein. Only after a wellfounded list of his comparisons has been established will it be possible to draw conclusions on Dunash's method vis-à-vis this issue.


11.1 Comparisons with Arabic

Dunash sets up 181 comparisons with Arabic (as well as two further citations of comparisons by other grammarians that he adduces, only

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