Dutch Treat (1885)

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Wed Nov 6 17:51:05 UTC 2002

In a message dated 11/6/02 12:14:50 PM Eastern Standard Time,
maberry at U.WASHINGTON.EDU writes:

> From OED (online version):
>  "Arab. Barbar, Berber, applied by the Arab geographers from ancient times
>  to the natives of N. Africa

Thanks for the information.

An odd thing about the OED text: The Arabs led the world in geography and
many other intellectual pursuits from the rise of Islam to roughly the
Renaissance.  However, as far as I know, there were no works of geography
written in Arabic before Muhammed.  Hence the OED seems to be referring to
Moslem Arab geographers as living "in ancient times".  Now these Arabs lived
in what Christian Europe thinks of as "the Middle Ages" and I personally do
not think of the Middle ages as being "ancient".  Neither do I think of the
early Islamic period, or any Islamic period, as "ancient."

This is of course personal preference, but does anyone else find the OED
usage of "ancient times" to be odd?  Or am I wrong and there do exist
documents from pre-Moslem Arabia that apply "B-R-B-R" (Barbar, Berber when
vowels are added) to North Africa?

(Incidentally, I'm not saying that the Arabic word BRBR is from Greek, but
Arabia had Greek-speaking neighbors in the Fertile Crescent from the days of
Alexander the Great until the Islamic conquest of the Fertile Crescent, which
was nine or ten centuries, so the Greek word could have travelled into Arabia
during that time.)

      - Jim Landau

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