Comparative Semitic Philology In The Middle Ages: From by Aaron Maman

By Aaron Maman

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5; p. 133, n. 53). Scholars have concluded from this allusion that in Ibn Barùn’s time the opposition to language comparison with Arabic continued. It is possible that Ibn Barùn did apologize somewhere in his work, in which case it can be assumed that this apology appeared in the part of the treatise that was lost (it should be noted that most of the introduction has not survived). Another possibility is that the author simply ignored the objections of his contemporaries, bypassing them entirely.

The special affinity existing between Hebrew and Aramaic, in the opinion of Ibn Janà˙, stems from the following phenomena: 1. In terms of grammar the two languages possess common features, these being absent from Arabic: the same vocalization signs, the common influence effected by the four laryngeals [ ,j ,h ,a on the vowels; their similarity regarding the vocalic entities twjtpw twxmq (= vocalization signs in general), most of which are lacking in Arabic; the declension of the Hebrew hitpa''el conjugation for roots commencing with a sibilant, like Aramaic itpe'el l[tpa, etc.

1981, pp. 214–15), Ibn Bal'am, too, apologized for recording comparisons of Hebrew with Arabic, merely echoing Ibn Janà˙’s statements, although Ibn Bal'am does not draw openly on R. Jonah but falls back only on R. Sa'adiah Gaon and R. Hai Gaon. In the remnants of the works of R. Moses ibn Gikatilla, no apologetic statement has survived, nor is there any discussion whatsoever on the question of permissibility of language comparison. However, in Ibn Gikatilla’s preface to his Hebrew translation of Óayyùj’s works (Nutt, 1870) an allusion appears: “Hebrew language is concealed, while Arabic, revealed and explicit and the Holy Tongue is obscure and it is befitting to explain the concealed by means of the intelligible and to interpret the obscure by means of the explicit” (emphasis added).

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