Asfinach

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Asfinach arabice pro spinachia .f. pro .p.


Apparatus:

pro (pro B) .p. ABC f | prout? {abbrev. cf. Cappelli p.XXXVIII, col.1} ms. e


Translation:

Asfinach is Arabic for Latin spinachia. In Arabic 'f' replaces 'p', {a sound, which does not exist in Arabic}.


Commentary:

Wehr (1976): ﺍﺴﻔﺎﻧﺎﺥ, ﺍﺴﻔﺎﻧﺦ /isfānāḫ, isfānaḫ/ "spinach". Also: ﺍﺴﺑﺎﻧﺦ /isbānaḫ/ "spinach". Siggel (1950: 14): ﺍﺴﻔﻧﺎﺝ ,ﺍﺴﻔﺎﻧﺎﺥ /isfināğ, isfānāḫ/ Spinacia oleracea (Chenopodiac.) Spinat {i.e. "spinach"}.

The etymology of the word is not clear; the usual explanation that Arabic /isbānaḫ/, /isfānāḫ/, etc. comes from a Persian word /äspänāh/ is becoming more disputed. Corominas (1980-91: CE-F, 747) under ESPINACA, mentions a Granada Arabic variant: izpinág. This is very close to an unrecorded original Arabic base */isbināḫ/, which is suggested by the Ibero-Romance forms: Portuguese espinafre, Castilian espinaca and Catalan espinac.. At any rate the words for 'spinach' in all European languages, with the exception of Rumanian, seem to have ultimately come from this Spanish espinaca, and so have Medieval Latin forms like spinachia/ spinachium/ spinarchia/ spinargium, etc.


Botanical identification:

Spinach seems to have been unknown in Greek/Roman antiquity. The original plant stock from which Spinacia oleracia L. [[1]], derived is probably Spinacia turkestanica Iljin [[2]], [[3]], which is native to central and southwestern Asia. Through trade and conquest the Arabs had encountered this plant in its original habitat and brought a cultivar with them to Spain, where it was grown in Andalusia as early as in the 11th c., however, not as a legume but as a medicinal plant. Its role as a vegetable only starts in the 15th c. From Spain and Sicily spinach spread to other parts of Europe.


WilfGunther 19/02/2014


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