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Latin in Hebrew Letters: The Transliteration/Transcription/Translation of a Compendium of Arnaldus de Villa Nova’s Speculum medicinae

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Chapter Summary

The six relevant folia of the manuscript are written in two columns: the left one contains the Latin text written in Hebrew letters of the compendium a certain Francisco Garsai produced on the base of Arnaldus de Villa Nova's Speculum medicinae; the right one is the translation thereof. The way of rendering Latin by means of Hebrew letters is strongly conditioned by the well-known practice of transcribing the Romance languages in Hebrew letters. The way our Latin text reproduced in Hebrew letters is neither a pure transcription nor a letter-by-letter transliteration. We find many instances of both systems throughout the text. The vulgarization undergone by Latin when transliterated/transcribed in Hebrew letters reveals that medieval diglossia was a continuum between the high and low language, with intermediate instances: Latinized vulgar or, conversely, vulgarized Latin, as in this document.

Keywords: Arnaldus de Villa Nova; Hebrew letters; Latin; medieval diglossia; Speculum medicinae; transcription; transliteration; vulgarization



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