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Some Features of the Old Castilian Alfonsine Translation of ʿAlī Ibn Khalaf’s Treatise on the Lámina Universal

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The aim of the paper is to present some features of the treatise on the lámina universal, an astronomical instrument devised by ʿAlī ibn Khalaf, an eleventh-century Andalusi mathematician and astronomer who belonged to the scientific circle of Ṣāʿid al- Andalusī. ʿAlī ibn Khalaf was a contemporary of Ibn al-Zarqālluh (al-Zarqālī, Azarquiel), also a mathematician and astronomer working under Ṣāʿid’s patronage, and the inven- tor of the instrument known as azafea. Both instruments, the lámina universal and the azafea, are universal instruments devised to overcome the limitations of the standard astrolabe. The only text describing ʿAlī ibn Khalaf’s instrument is the thirteenth- century old-Castilian Alfonsine translation, which has not been studied in detail up to now, although some preliminary studies have been published. The present study deals with some linguistic and technical difficulties of the text. In many passages, it seems to follow literally the grammatical structure of the Arabic language while in others, the lack of technical terms forced the translators to resort either to a literal transcription of the original Arabic terminology or, in some cases, to approximate translations that make the text somewhat difficult to follow. The paper provides additional information related mainly to the astronomical parameters and the technical vocabulary used in the translation.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Semitic Filology, University of Barcelona Gran Vía 585, 08007 BarcelonaSpain


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