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The Unkempt Heritage: On the Role of Latin in the Arabic-Islamic Sphere

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As linguistic systems, Latin and Arabic have interacted for centuries. The article at hand aims at analysing the status of the Latin language in the Arab and Arabic-Islamic sphere. Starting out from the observation that Latin-Christian and Arabic-Islamic scholarship dedicated a very different degree of attention to the study of the respective ‘other’ language in the course of the centuries, the article traces the impact of Latin on an emerging Arabic language in Antiquity, provides an overview on the various references to Latin found in works of Arabic-Islamic scholarship produced in the medieval and modern periods, and provides an exhaustive list of Arabic translations of Latin texts. A description of the role played by Latin in the Arabic-speaking world of our times is followed by a discussion of several hypotheses that try to explain why Latin was rarely studied systematically in the Arabic-Islamic sphere before the twentieth century.Le latin et l’arabe, en tant que systèmes linguistiques, furent en interaction pendant des siècles. Le présent article a pour objectif d’analyser le statut de la langue latine dans le monde arabe et arabo-musulman. Partant de l’observation que les érudits latins chrétiens et arabo-musulmans se consacrèrent à différents degrés à l’étude de la langue de « l’Autre », l’article retrace l’impact du latin sur une langue arabe émergeant dans l’Antiquité, donne un aperçu des références à la langue latine dans les œuvres des érudits arabo-musulmans produites aux époques médiévale et moderne, et fournit une liste exhaustive des traductions des textes latins en arabe. Après avoir esquissé le statut actuel de la langue latine dans le monde arabophone de nos jours, l’article aborde plusieurs hypothèses qui essaient d’expliquer pourquoi le latin n’a guère été un objet d’études systématiques dans le monde arabo-musulman avant le XX e siècle.This article is in English.

Affiliations: 1: Cluster Asia and Europe-University of Heidelberg


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