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Sfanerihe arabice pastinaca domestica cuius radicis exterior pars nigra interior subcitrina.


Sfanerihe AC fp | Sfanerie ej | Sfaueherie uel fanerie B
pastinaca | pastinacha B
radicis om. B
{nigra} add. videtur (uidetur p; vi~ fj) efjp | & add. B
subcitrina | subcirrina or -curina?? j


Sfanerihe is Arabic for Latin garden pastinaca {"parsnip"}, the outside of its root is dark and the interior is yellowish.


Simon’s Sfanerihe {"parsnip; carrot"} is a word with a great number of variants. Its use is restricted to North Africa and the Andalusi Arabic of Spain (Corominas, see below). Virtually any glossary or dictionary has a different variant:

  • Thus it is listed in the Glossarium Arabico-Latinum, Seybold (1900: 367) [[1]]: pastinaca ﺍﺳﻔﻨﺎﺭﻳﺔ /ʔsfannārīya/.
  • de Alcalá has (1883: 164) [[2]]: çanahoria yerua e rayz {i.e. "herb and root"} içfernĭa izfernĭt.
  • Karbstein (2002: 98) shows that the Morisco community used this word as late as the early 17th c.: "18) Möhre {i.e. 'carrot'} Daucus carota L.

ﺟﺰﺭ ﻫﻮ ﺍﻟﺴﺎﻓﻨﺎﺭﻳﺔ ﻋﺠﻤﻴﺔ ﺳﻔﻨﺎﺭﻳﺔ /ğizzar huwa al-sāfarnāriya ʕağamīya safanāryya/ - "/ğizzar/ {‘the carrot’} is /sāfarnāriya/ and in Romance it is called /safanāryya/".
N.b. Carrot and parsnip were often seen during the Middle Ages as varieties of the same plant. Karbstein (2002: 68) further mentions a shortened variant: ﺳﻨﺎﺭﻳﺔ /sanārya/ which is probably the alternative one in witness B and which also lives on in the Iberian languages, see below.

Siggel (1950: 14) records the variant: ﺍﺳﻔﺮﻧﻳﺔ /isfarnīya/ Pastinaca sativa (Umb.) Pastinak {i.e. "parsnip"}.

And Dozy (1877-81: I.660) has: ﺳﻔﻨﺎﺭﻳﺔ /saf(u)nārīya/ panais {i.e. "parsnip"}.

Dozy & Engelmann (1869: 244) in their Glossaire des mots espagnols list a number of older Spanish forms as well as different Arabic variants [[3]]: AZANORIA, zanahoria, acenoria, cenoria…

Corominas (1980-91: Y – Z.65), s.v. ZANAHORIA {i.e. "parsnip"} characterises this lemma as non-classic Arabic and cites a form safunâria. This word was adopted by all Iberian languages: Spanish zanahoria - itself from an older çahanoria -, in Catalan dialects saf(r)anòria, and most likely descended from the shortened form ﺳﻨﺎﺭﻳﺔ /sanārya/: is older Spanish: cenoria, Galician: cenoura and Portuguese: cenoura/ cenoira.

The origin of the Arabic lemma, generally seen as non-Semitic, is disputed.

Botanical identification:

The description of the root as being "dark" on the outside and "yellowish" on the inside points to the original dark purple colour of carrot roots, while the modern orangey outside is only the product of 17th c. cross-breeding. The so-called eastern domestic form, common in Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey but uncommon in Europe and America, still has this dark purple outside and an orangey inside [[4]].

WilfGunther (talk) 11:15, 3 August 2015 (BST)

See also: Pastinaca, Gezar, Iezar, Daucus, Stafilina

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