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Zabaera vocatur a multis vulgariter planta unde fit aloes imitantes arabicum quod est sabr.


Zabara B ejp | Zabaera AC | Zabaraga f

vulgariter planta | p.v. B

imitantes (-tãtes j) AC fjp | ĩmittantes B e

arabicum (-cũ B e; ara j) ABC ejp | grece a͠ f

sabr B fp | saber ms. e | sabi AC {'r' misread as 'i'} | sabr or sabi j


Zabaera is the word used by many speakers of the folk-language for the plant from which aloe {juice} is made. This word imitates Arabic sabr.


These words are derivatives of Arabic ﺻﺒﺮ /ṣabr/ {"aloe"}, the form Simon mentions at the end of this entry.

Different witnesses have different forms: Zabaera (A,C) and Zabara (B,e), with Zabaraga (f) probably the result of a mishearing during dictation or a misreading.

Both variants are documented in the much later Pedro de Alcalá s.v. çavilla yerva del acibar {i.e. çavilla the herb from which acibar is made}", forms that were apparently current in the Granada of his time, i.e. 15th/16th cc.: çavilla {better: çavila, a variant ultimately derived from ﺻﺒﺮ /ṣabr/}, çabâyra (A,C), çabâra (B,e) and çabîra. These are the words Simon must be alluding to when he speaks of 'many people in the folk language' using these forms and that they are Arabic loans. N.b. Pedro's "ç" transcribes the Arabic sound represented by ﺹ /ṣ/.

The fact that the witnesses have only one of the two forms could hint at a situation where Simon's entry perhaps began originally with Zabaera aut Zabara vocatur.

Simon's Zabara and Pedro's çabâra are likely to represent the form Dozy (1877-81: I.815) lists: ﺻﺒﺎﺭﺓ /ṣabbāra/ - and he glosses: Forme maghr. et ég. Aloès {i.e. "a Maghribinic and Egyptian form for aloe"}, as opposed to Classical ﺻﺒﺮ /ṣabr/ nom.un ﺻﺒﺮﺓ /ṣabira ṣabra/ (e.g. Lane, 1984: 1645).

Simon's Zabaera and Pedro's çabâyra are likely to represent the diminutive form: ﺻﺒﺎﺭﺓ /ṣubaira, ṣabaira/.

But Simon's transcribing of Arabic ﺹ /ṣ/ with 'z' in this entry rather than 's' is unusual and points to (Southern) Italy. And indeed Battisti (1968: V.4103) has: ~z'àbbara f., sic. e calabr. zàmbara; agave, fibra tessile di agave; ar. sabbâra {sic!} aloe. {i.e. in IPA ['ʣabbara], marked by Battisti as regional or dialectal, "also occurring in Sicilian and Calabrese as zàmbara, agave, textile fibre from the agave, from Arabic sabbâra 'aloe'"}. Observe the interesting substitution of ﺹ /ṣ/ by the voiced affricate /ʣ/, marked in Battisti's transcription: 'z', note also the geminate consonant dissimilation in zambara.

N.b. Corominas (1980-91: Y-Z.27), s.v. ZÁBILA shows the Italian forms with different stress patterns from Battisti's: Sicilian zabbára and Calabrese dzambára. Suffice it to say that the stress in these words is in some cases disputed, cf. Corominas op.cit.

The Genoese Simon mentioning Italian variants is in itself not surprising but he was also clearly aware of the more Classical Arabic forms, cf. his sabr = ﺻﺒﺮ /ṣabr/ at the end of this entry, and also of Spanish variants, cf. his entry Sibar.

WilfGunther 10:57, 13 October 2014 (BST)

See also: Saber, Sibar, Aloes

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