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hudhud
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Al-Andalus: Words Worth Gold
04:10:24 PM Saturday Oct 22, 2005


I often wondered about the mysterious name Al-Andalus, where does it come from? I knew it wasn't Arabic, but couldn't find a Spanish meaning for it either. There are all kinds of theories out there including one I encountered which claimed the region was named after a certain type of rabbit that was plentiful along the shores. Recently though, I read a book about the literature of Al-Andalus, and in the introduction the author discussed the historic name of this great land. His theory was based on the historic fact that Al-Andalus used to be called Vandalus when the Moors first arrived, named after the Vandals who migrated from other parts of Europe to settle in that region. He then goes on to say that it was pronounced more like "waw" than "va", such that it was spoken "wandalus" but that in classical Arabic the letter "waw" can be replaced with the letter alif (w/hamza); apparently that was a common practice in classical Arabic which never affected the meaning of the original word. So, we ended up with "Al-Andalus," the land of the Vandals.

The mystery that has long shrouded the name of Al-Andalus in my mind symbolizes the greater value that we have lost in Andalusi literature, the great libraries that were destroyed, all the knowledge in the Arabic that was spoken and written then, and used by the Christian Spanish kings for much longer even after the reconquest. If we had these libraries today, what would we learn about their society, their culture and scholarship? It's a tragic loss, something worth more than the palaces, more than the gardens, more than gold..


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10:20 pm    October 22, 2005

Adnane Ben. message
1
I didn't know that. That's... cute!
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hudhud's notes (47)
 
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