[Sca-cooks] Scapece, samak musakbaj ... just something I came across

Christiane christianetrue at earthlink.net
Thu Jan 3 15:46:35 PST 2008

Adamantius had said:
>There's this interesting transposition of consonants we sometimes run  
>across in foods when translated between different languages, or  
>sometimes perhaps by scribal error, but for example, you've got cloves  
>gilofre, cloves girofle, and cloves gillyflower, which sometimes are,  
>and sometimes are not, the same thing (but they're generally either  
>the spice clove or the clove pink flower, and usually the former). I  
>believe I've seen a similar transposition between ascipium and aspic,  
>although at the moment I couldn't swear to it.

Actually, there was free-flowing transposition of words in Norman and Hohenstaufen Sicily in Southern Italy between Arabic, Greek, and Latin. The diwan documents analyzed by Jeremy Johns shows this. For example, there was a special tax imposed by the Muslim conquerors on non-Muslims (dhmimmi) called the jizya. In Norman Sicily, it was the Muslims who became the dhimmi, so to speak, and they had to pay the jizya — which was transformed into "gesia" in Latin.

Another small example: one document refers to a Greek and his vendor wife Setelchousoun (at least that's how the Latin translated her name). In Arabic, it was, "Sitt al Husn," (Mistress of Beauty). She must have been a looker. Other names got transliterated too: Abderrachmen instead of Abd' al Achmen, for example. 

The scribes did the best that they could do. Frederick's adminstrators mostly used Latin, but there were some documents still coming out in Arabic.


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