Dutch Treat (1885)

A. Maberry maberry at U.WASHINGTON.EDU
Wed Nov 6 18:27:05 UTC 2002

On Wed, 6 Nov 2002, James A. Landau wrote:
> 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.

Other than some inscriptions and a few papyri (as far as I know, none of
them about geography or North Africa), there aren't any written Arabic
documents before Muhammad, at least none that survived if they existed at
all. There is a corpus of pre-Islamic poetry, but again that wasn't
recorded in writing until after Muhammad.

> 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?

None that I know of.

> (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.)

Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon has this under barbar, "a foreign word
[probably of African origin the primary form of which is the source of
[Greek] Barbaros, or as some suggest from [Arabic] barbarah in speech"
So Lane would derive both the Arabic AND Greek words from some common
African original. Unfortunately he does not give more details.

maberry at u.washington.edu

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