Tuesday, October 5, 2021

HUNAYNNET: Transmission of classical scientific and philosophical literature from Greek into Syriac and Arabic

The ERC project HUNAYNNET is the first attempt at compiling a digital trilingual and linguistically annotated parallel corpus of Greek classical scientific and philosophical literature and the Syriac and Arabic translations thereof. The impact of the Syriac tradition upon the Arabic translations has so far been acknowledged but not thoroughly explored. Compared with the extant body of Graeco-Arabic translation literature, the available Graeco-Syriac translations constitute just a small fraction of texts. The very availability of that relatively small group of texts in all three languages requires therefore comparative examination. The present corpus presents all and only those classical Greek scientific and philosophical works that are preserved in all three languages.

Presenting the Greek originals along with all extant Syriac and Arabic versions in aligned and digitally enhanced parallel columns, the present corpus enables the user to compare directly the terminology and phraseology of all versions, to spot at a glance corresponding passages in all three languages, to get an idea of the translator’s accurateness and reliability, to check textual disparities between the different versions, to assess the significance of the Syriac and Arabic versions for the critical establishment of the Greek texts, and to retrieve external lexicographical information on any word in any text. Furthermore, the present corpus will contribute to the still pending question as to which Arabic translations were made directly from the Greek and which were prepared on the bases of Syriac intermediaries.

Drawing on online lexicography and corpus linguistics, the full-text database is enhanced by a linguistic corpus management system providing various kinds of more specific lexicographical and linguistic search tools for all texts included in the present trilingual parallel corpus, such as word or phrase queries, frequency analyses, cross-linguistic concordances or word lists.

The two open-access databases thus create new instruments for multi-disciplinary studies of the history of the transmission of Greek scientific and philosophical literature in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

The project is funded by a Starting Grant of the European Research Council (Grant Agreement No. 679083, Principal Investigator: Grigory Kessel, Project acronym: HUNAYNNET). It is hosted by the Austrian Academy of Sciences and is undertaken in cooperation with the Ruhr University of Bochum.



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