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Asach arabice sed melius axach est amoniacum.


Asach AC p | Ascac ej | Ascach B | Aschahe f
axach | asac p
{amoniacum} ms. p. adds an attempt to write ﺍﺷﻖ /ašaq/ in Arabic script


Asach is Arabic, but it is better spelt axach, in Latin it is amoniacum {"gum ammoniac"}.


The word Simon is trying to transcribe is ﺍﺷﻖ /aš(š)aq/, containing the sound /š/. Since this sound did not exist in Latin the Latin alphabet offers no method for writing this sound, and in Romance and foreign words containing this sound it is often ambiguously represented by the letter "s", cf. witnesses AC p and Stephanus's Latinised Asacum. Simon, who is fully aware of the occurrence of /š/ in this Arabic word, applies - according to some witnesses - the "Italian" convention using "sc" at the first occurrence of this word but then suggests the 'better' i.e. more precise "Iberian" spelling using "x" for /š/. This latter convention is still alive to this day in the Catalan, Galego and Portuguese orthographies. See also the appropriate section in the Commentary in X littera.

This Arabic lemma occurs in three variant forms: √wš(š)q and √ʔ(š)šq, occasionally √ʔ(š)šğ, with fuʕal and faʕal vocalisations,
cf. Siggel (1950: 14): ﺍﺷﻖ /uššaq/, ﻭﺷﻖ /wuššaq/ Ammongummi von Dorema ammoniacum (Umb.) {i.e. "gum ammoniac from D. ammoniacum"}.

Forms closer to Simon's vocalisation, also to the Asacum of Stephanus, are attested in

  • Asín Palacios (1943: 136), "263: GOTTA – cañaheja {"giant fennel"}, goma-resina {"gum ammoniac"}

ﻏﺘﺔ ﻫﻮ ﻻﺷﻖ /ġtah huwa al-ašaq/ - "Gotta is {the Romance word for what is in Arabic} /al-ašaq/ {'gum ammoniac'}".

  • Also e.g. in the Liber fundamentorum pharmacologiae 2, Pars I, p.35: ﺍﺷﻖ eschak {= /ašaq/, IPA [æʃaq]} Gummi ammoniacum [[1]]
  • The faʕʕal vocalisation is also found in Biberstein-Kazimirski (1846: 35): ﺍﺷﻖ /aššaq/ "Ammoniac" [[2]].

The word is a loan from Middle-Persian ﺍﺷﻪ /ušah/ "gum ammoniac" which has developed a great number of variant forms in Arabic.

For further information, see [[3]].

WilfGunther (talk) 12:04, 19 October 2015 (BST)

See also: Amoniacum (2), Asacum

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