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The diminutives in the dīwān of Ibn Quzmān: a product of their Hispanic milieu?1

  • J. A Abu-Haidar


The distinguished orientalist Reinhart Dozy, writing in 1849, and referring to the possible influence of Arabic poetry on Spanish romances and on the early troubadour lyrics, pronounced the whole question as ‘tout à fait oiseuse’. He went on to say about this highly controversial question: ‘nous voudrions ne plus la voir débattue, quoique nous soyons convaincu qu'elle le sera pendant longtemps encore. A chacun son cheval de bataille’.



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2 Recherches sur I'histoire politique et litteraire de I'Espagne pendant le moyen age, Leiden, 1849, I, 611. See also, 2nd ed., Leiden, 1860 II, Appendix, lxx, and 3rd ed., 1881, n, Appendix, lxiv.

3 This is in all likelihood a reference to the definitive statement by the well-known French philosopher and orientalist Ernest Renan: ‘Quant aux influences (Arabic) litteraires et morales, elles ont été fort exagérées; ni la poésie provencale, ni la chevalerie ne doivent rien aux musulmans. Un abîme sépare la forme et l'esprit de la poésie romane de la forme et 1'esprit de la poesie arabe; rien ne prouve que les poétes Chrétiens aient connu l'existence d'une poesie arabe, et Ton peut affirmer que, s'ils l'eussent connue, ils eussent ete incapables d'en comprendre la langue et l'esprit.’ (Histoire générate et systéme comparé des langues sémitiques, 4th ed., Paris, 1863, 397.

4 As quoted by Boase, R., The origin and meaning of courtly love, Manchester University Press, 1977, 37, from the English translation of de Rougemont's work, Passion and society, trans. Montgomery Belgion, London, Faber, and Faber, , 1940, (rev. ed. 1956).

5 ‘El Cancionero de Abencuzman’, later incorporated in Disertaciones y opúsculos, Madrid, , 1928, l, 392.

6 ibid., 71.

7 ibid., 45–46.

8 Despite the repeated use of such an epithet by Ribera, Robert Briffault, a strong protagonist of Arabic influences on the troubadours, writing more than thirty years later, refers to the fact that several of the songs of Ibn Quzmān ‘in which the love–theme predominates … appear to be addressed to men', but explains this by saying that’ it should be borne in mind that it is a current Arab usage to disguise references to a woman by the use of the masculine gender.’ This is later adduced as analogous with the situation in Provencal poetry ’ in which the senhal by which the lady is designated is sometimes masculine.‘See The Troubadours, translated by Briffault, ed. Lawrence F, Koons, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1965, 48 and 245. (The French original was published in Paris, 1945.)

9 Ribera, op. cit., 72.

10 Gibb, H. A. R, article on ‘Literature’, The legacy of Islam, ed. Arnold, Sir Thomas and Guillaume, Alfred, Oxford: Oxford University Press, repr. 1960, 185.

11 Poesia arabe y poesia europea, 3rd ed.Buenos Aires, 1946 5157. This work was first published in 1941. It comprises six studies on medieval Spanish literature. The first of them, which gives its title to the book, was first published in the Bulletin Hispanique, 1938, 337423.

12 Neither the first part of this anthology (ed. A. R., Nykl and I, Tuqan, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1932), nor the second part (ed Sāmarrā, Iī and Qaysl, N, Baghdad, 1975), contain any strophic verse. By reading its title as Kitāb al–Zuhra, i.e. The book of Venus, as Massignon originally did, scholars gave it a mystique (as a treatise on love), which it did not merit. In any case, the Andalusians must have read its title as Kitāb al-Zahra, i.e. The book of the flower, since Ibn Faraj of Jaen (al–Jayyānl) who tried to outdistance this work, called his imitation or emulation of it Kitāb al–Hadāiq, i.e. The book of gardens. See An–Nisfal–Thānī min Kitāb al–Zahra, ed. Samarrā’, and Qaysī, ,21.

13 Ibn Quzmān’s zajals perhaps stand some comparison with the poems of William IX of Poitiers in as much as some of the latter's productions ‘are not far removed from the same gutter morality’, (cf. H. A. R Gibb, article cited in n. 10 above, 190), but at least one student of troubadour poetry has divided the 11 poems attributed to William IX into the ‘course’, the ‘courtly’ and the ‘contrite’. It is in the ‘courtly’ group that ‘we find the earliest known formulation of that ideal love’ cultivated in troubadour poetry, (cf. Press, Alan R, Anthology of Troubadour lyric poetry, Edinburgh University Press, 1971, 10). One would be hard put to it to classify any of the zajals of Ibn Quzman as ‘courtly’, and only one of the 149 zajals in his dtwdn, no. 147, has been canvassed as contrite'. It would amount to more than squaring the circle, perhaps, to equate Ibn Quzman's emotional immediacy’ if there be those who are prepared to cook love, I eat love uncooked’ (zajal, 140), with Jaufre Rudel's amor de lonh which is known and experienced only as the end of an unending aspiration’ (cf. Alan R. Press, op. cit., 28).

14 La Passion d'Al–Hallāj, Paris, Geuthner, P, 1922,1, 176. The whole of this quotation has been dropped from the new edition of Massignon's work (Paris, Gallimard, 1975), which was extensively revised by the author, as has the reference to Ibn Quzman. In the new edition (i, 398), Massignon's approach is largely tentative:‘Depuis cent cinquante ans, la critique internationale des litteratures a essaye de reperer des points de contact entre poetes arabes du hubb’udhnet poetes occidentaux de I'amour courtois, du ‘dolce stil nuovo’.

15 Hisloire sommaire de la littérature méridionale au moyen âge, des origines a la fin du XV siecle, Paris, Ancienne Librairie Fontemoing et Cic, 1921, 22.

16 ibid., 20.

17 ibid., 24.

18 The whole of the first chapter of Briffault's, Les troubadours et le sentiment romanesque, Geneva, Slatkine Reprints, 1974 (reprint of the 1945 Paris ed; Eng. tr. The Troubadours, see n. 7 above), is dedicated to a discussion of Hispano-Arabic influences on the early troubadour lyrics.

19 Les troubadours el le sentiment romanesque, 27. {The Troubadours, 32.)

20 What apparently led Briffault to such a conclusion is the translation in verse of the maqdmdt of Harīrī by the German poet Friedrich Rüchter, from which he offers the reader two examples of a murabba’ strophe (ibid., 31–2). It is no doubt odd to speak of the maqamdt of Hariri as being ‘spangled wit murabba strophes’, but worse still to conclude by inference that Hariri had helped Arabic poetry to ‘cast off its traditional trammels’.

21 Perhaps Giammaria Barbieri (1519’75) was the first scholar to advocate Arabic influences on the troubadours through Spain. His Dell' origine delta poesia rimata was written c. 1570, although it was not published until 1790. See Boase, R, opcit., 11 and 142.

22 Boase, 123.

23 ed. Kamil Kllanī, 3rd ed. Cairo, n.d., 216.

24 ‘Wala‘ al–Mutānabbl āi ‘l–tasghlr’, Al–Balagh, 10 December, 1923, later incorporated in Mutdla‘dtfi ‘l–kutub wa–'l–haydt, 3rd ed., Beirut, 1966, 182–92.

25 Risālat al–Ghufrān, 216.

26 op. cit., 184 and 191.

27 ibid., 187.

28 ibid., 189.

29 Fi ‘1–Mlzdn al–Jadīd, 3rded., Cairo, n.d., 1835.

30 ibid., 184.

31 Al–‘Aqqad, op.cit., 182. One other Arab poet who ‘shows a marked fondness for the diminutive’, as R. A. Nicholson points out, is Ibn a–Farid. Nicholson indeed says about him that ‘he betrays the influence of Mutanabbi’. But while Ibn Quzman was well–acquainted with al– MutanabbTs poetry, and the works of most ‘Abbāsid poets, Ibn al–Farid was born some 20 years after Ibn Quzman's death (A.D. 1181), and for this reason he has not been discussed here. See A literary history of the Arabs, Cambridge, 1956, 396, and note 37 below.

32 Dīwdn al–Mutanabbī, Beirut, 1956, 85.

33 Al–‘Aqqād, op. cit., 190.

34 Dīwan al–Mutanabbī, 337.

35 ibid., 198.

36 ibid., 508.

37 The mystical poet Ibn al–Fārid (see n. 31 above) was aware of the emotional appeal of the diminutive as a caritative, and used it to that effect. In one of two verses in his diwan (what his editor terms dubayt), he provides what amounts to a definition of the caritative diminutive.

mā qultu hubayyibī min ‘l–tahqīri

bal ya ‘dhubu smu ‘l–shakhsi bi– ‘1–tasghTri

‘Not in contempt I say “my darling”. No!

By “diminution” names do sweeter grow’.

As translated by Nicholson, opcit., 396. See also Diwan Ibn al–Farid, ed. Amman, I. Samarra'i, 1985, 6 and 113. It should be added here that this discussion is not primarily concerned with lexicalized diminutives whose use cannot, strictly speaking, be ascribed to the word choice or diction of particular poets. Nor does this discussion overlook the fact that diminutive forms are apt to have a more frequent occurrence in popular poetry.

38 A reference to the Romance kharjas utilized by Arab and Hebrew muwashshah writers in the days of Ibn Quzman, and for well over a century before him.

39 Cantos romanicos andalusies', in Espanña eslabon entre la cristiandad y el Islam, Madrid, 1956, 1245.

40 This term is used here despite the fact that some kharjas contain both Romance and Arabic elements. The kharjas have variously been referred to as ‘chansons mozarabes’, ‘vers finaux (kharjas) en espagnol’ (S. M. Stern), ‘jarchas mozarabes’ (E. GarcÍa Gomez), ‘cantos mozarabes’ and ‘cantos românicos andalusies’ (R. Menendez Pidal), and ‘cancioncillas deamigomozarabes’ (Damaso Alonso), etc.

41 Les chansons mozarabes, les vers finaux (kharjas) en espagnol dans les muwashshahs arabes et hebreux, Palermo, 1953 (Stern).

42 ‘Veinticuatro jarchas romances en muwashshahas arabes’, Al‘Andalus,XVII, 1952, 57127,(Garcia Gomez).

43 Al–Dhakhira, part I,II, Cairo, 1943, 1.

44 See Stern, xvii–xix and Garcia Gómez, 72–119.

45 No. 32 in Stern, and XIII in GarcÍa Gómez.

46 As transliterated by Stern.

47 No. 33 in Stern and XIV in GarcÍa GÍmez.

48 As transliterated by GarcÍa GÍmez.

49 See no. XI in Garcia Gómez, and nos. 31, 37 and 39 in Stern.

50 This kharja is reproduced here as transliterated by GarcÍa Gómez. Stern, I feel,has missed the meaning of the term yümella in the second verse which seems to be a diminutive of jumma, i.e. the hair, or the bulk of it on top of the forehead. Stern transliterates this term as sujjamelo, and gives as a translation chupamieles, which is Spanish for a variety of bugloss. Garcia Gomez adopts the reading of J. Oliver Asin, who regards the term as a diminutive of jumma, and gives the ingenious Spanish rendition guedejuela. See, however, n. 39, 44 in Stern.

51 Madrid, 1962.

52 op. cit., 3.

53 ibid., pp. 3–4, n. 2.

54 Madrid–Granada, 1943.

55 Glosario, introduction, xi–xvi.

56 See ibid., xxiii. The author in fact cites at times various dialects of the ‘ajamiyya, the Andalusian, Galician, etc.

57 Los sufijos, 115.

58 Gerald, Brenan, The literature of the Spanish people, London, 1963, 74. The Oxford companion to Spanish literature, ed. Philip, Ward, Oxford, 1978, gives Berceo's date of birth as c. 1190.

59 Los sufijos, 17.

60 2nd ed., Madrid, 1944.

61 See, for example, Dīwān, 401, where ghuwayr and buyayda appear as names of places with scanty water.

62 Toponîmîa arábe, 43, 135 and 145 respectively.

63 ibid., 131.

64 ibid., 134.

65 ibid., 135. Asin Palacios points out that Yāqūt refers to three places bearing this name in the East, and that Idrīsī refers to one in Africa.

66 ibid., 144.

67 ibid., 145.

68 Asin Palacios refers to this practice in the introduction to his toponimiaárabe, 226–4, as well as to the Spanish practice of adding the s of the Spanish plural to names of Arabic origin. As examples of the latter he cites: Azores, Algeciras, Ramblas, et.

69 Toponimia árabe, 49.

70 ibid., 25.

71 ibid., 25–6. It should be pointed out that Asin Palacios has left a large body of material unexamined in his work, and that is, as he says, those place names which he could not prove with absolute certainty to be of Arabic origin, ibid.

72 See above, 246.

73 G. Brenan, op. cit., 333.

74 Desinencias adjetivales romances en la onomástica de nuestros judios', in Estudios dedicados a Menéndez Pidal, Madrid 1950, 125–33.

75 op. cit., 130–131.

76 ibid., 131.

77 Origenes del espanol, 6th ed., Madrid 1968 (VIII of Obras completas de R. Menendez, Pidal), 134 and 150.

78 Lossufijos, 118–19.

79 Gonzalez Olle, op. cit., 119, explains this term as ‘murcianito, diminutivo del genlilicio Murci’.

80 Les chansons, 3–4.

81 The term appears in its popular Arabic form with a pronominal suffix, stīdī in a number of other kharjas. See no. 11, in Stern, and nos. I and XX in Garcia Gomez.

82 For the discovery of the identity of the official addressed in this kharja Stern gives full credit to the historian Baer and adopts an interpretation of the kharja largely suggested by the historian. See Les chansons, 3.

83 Al–Dabb, ī, Bughyat al-Multamis (ed. Codera, F. and Ribera, J.), Madrid, 1885, 332. This anecdote is quoted by Menéndez, Pidal, Origenes, 151; Gonzalez, Olle, Los sufijos, 114–15; and Millas, Vallicrosa, ‘Desinencias adjetivales romances’, 131.

84 loc. cit. in preceding note.

85 See the list of diminutives at the end of this article.

86 Besilo in Spanish.

87 This term could possibly be nawayt, and I have translated it as such. On the other hand it could have the classical signification ‘to do good—.

88 i.e. not masnū', or the product of literary artifice.

89 Cl. Ar. diminutive is sumayy.

90 Al–walad min qardi waldu, wa–’l-‘asā min ’l–usayyā.

91 See above, 245–6.

92 Zajal 122, strophe 6.

93 See on this the section entitled ‘Irregularity and disregard of rules in the zajal’, in my thesis A study of certain linguistic metrical and literary aspects of the Dīwān of Ibn Quzman d. 1160 A.D., University of London, 1975 (unpublished), 159–73.

94 All references to the zajals are made to the facsimile copy of the Leningrad manuscript Le Divan d'lbn Guzman made by Gunzburg, D. de, Berlin, 1896. References to variant readings are made to the edition in Latin script and translation by E. Garcia, Gόmez, Todo Ben Quzmān, 3 vols., Madrid, 1972 (G.G.), and F. Corriente's edition with transliteration on facing pages, Dīwān Ibn Quzmān, Madrid, 1980, and his Spanish translation El Cancionero hispánoarabe, Madrid, 1984 (Corriente). As the zajals bear the same number in both of these editions, as in the original manuscript, no page numbers are supplied. Full data is given with all other references.

95 The poet uses the common form shuwayy (instead of the regular forms shuway' or shuyay') and eliminates the tashdid.

96 Diminutive of thanã'.

97 This is how this term appears in the MS G.G. reads ´‘utaiba’, and translates ‘casilla’.Corriente reads ´‘unayba’ and translates ‘uvilla’, a more credible reading in the context.

98 Corriente reads ´‘unayyaq’, omitting an apparent final vowel, and giving this term a CuCayyaC, rather than CuCayC form.

99 The regular classical diminutives are muwayh and muwayy.

100 Diminutive of qabā.

101 Diminutive of filw.

102 In zajal 142 this term is written with in place of dād.

103 This is in all likelihood meant as a (diminutive) plural of hajar (karīmor hajar (thamīn), i.e. precious stones or gems. G.G. translates ‘chinitas’. Corriente translates ‘algorfas’.

104 Both G.G. and Corriente read ‘šawiyyāt’ in zajal 85 where the initial vowel is stained. In zajal 89 the MS vocalization is unblemished.

105 G.G. reads ‘hasīla’.

106 Vocalized as such in the MS G.G. and Corriente read ‘hasifa’ and ‘xastfa’ respectively.

107 This diminutive seems to have puzzled all readers of Ibn Quzmān's dīwān. It occurs in a verse in which the poet wishes that God had created his love as a little stem, or, one might say,‘spriglet’ of lavender. O. J. Tuulio reads this diminutive as ‘khudayma’ and translates: ‘Puisse Allāh te transformer en une (pauvre) petite servante!(Ibn Quzmān, poète hispano–arabe bilingue, Helsinki; 1941, 4). A. R. Nykl transliterates this diminutive as ‘judhayma’, and translates: ‘Si Dios te hubiera hecho manquillo’. He adds in brackets after ‘manquillo’, by way of an explanation of his conjecture, ‘para no gastarl(El Cancionero del Seih, nobilisimo Visir, maravilla del tiempo Abu Bakr ibn ‘Abd al–Malik Aben Guzmān, Madrid, 1933, 24 and 357). C. Brockelmann, quoted by C. Appel, translates the verse in question: ‘Möge Gott zu einem …r (?) machen!’ Brockelmann, it seems, refused to hazard a guess similar to the previous two, and supplied blanks for the diminutive in question. (C. Appel, in his review of Nykl's, A. R.El Cancionero de Aben Guzman, Madrid, 1933, in Zeitschrift für Romanische Philologie, LV, 1935, 725–37). G.G. transliterates the verse in question: ‘lauğa'alak Allāh üudaima!’ He translates, omitting the reference to God: ‘de volyerte leprosillâ!’ (that you should turn into a little leper!) G.G. adds in a footnote that the strophe, in which this verse appears, is difficult, and wonders whether the poet's use of ‘little leper’ was not due to the fact that ‘small pieces of money were thrown to lepers’. Corriente reads ‘judayma’, and adopts a similar explanation to those of Nykl and G.G.

108 G.G. reads ‘fadīlat’.

109 In proper classical usage the feminine should be ‘restored’ to the diminutive of such a feminine triliteral noun, i.e. qudayrah, although qudayr is admissible usage.

110 In zajal 83 G.G. reads ‘qariya’, while Corriente reads ‘qariyya’, although they both translate ‘cortijo’ for qarya, qirya, or, much more likely in the context qurayya. In zajal 88 Corriente again reads ‘qariyya’.

111 G.G. reads ‘Muhajğ’. Corriente reads ‘muhja’, although in his translation and notes he writes ‘Muhayja’. The context suggests that this is a proper name.

112 See note 115 below.

113 This term is not vocalized in the MS.

114 The classical Arabic diminutive is ‘uyayndt or possibly ‘iyaynāt. The form used by the poet is admissible but not regular.

115 The equivalent Spanish diminutives for this term, and for the singular murayya, which also appears in zajal 84, (see n. 112), i.e. mujerzuelas and mujercillas have pejorative connotations. The two Arabic terms seem to be used by the poet to convey feelings of affection or endearment.

116 This term appears as ashyāt in zajal 122. G.G. appropriately supplies ‘cosillas’ for the diminutive.

117 Classical Arabic diminutive sumayy, as used by Ibn al–Fârid, op. cit., 12.

118 G.G. reads ‘ğuwairiyan’.

119 Diminutive of tāshir or tashūr. See Dozy, R., Supplément aux dictionnaires arabes, Leiden, 1881, II, 18.

120 Rare classical instances of this do occur, as, for example, ‘ushayshah’ and ‘ushayshiyah’ as diminutives of ‘ashiyyah.

121 G.G. reads ‘dukajkan’ and translates ‘un poyo’, assuming derivation from dakka. Corriente also reads ‘dukaykan’, but translates ‘rinconcillo’, a felicitous translation for rukayn or, as in this case, rukaykan.

122 G.G. emends this term and reads ‘qutainan’.

123 See above, 245.

124 Stern, Les chansons mozarabes, no. 33, and Garcia Gόmez, ‘Veinticuatro jarchas romances’, no. XIII.

125 For this, and for an example of hamrella (Ar. equivalent uhaymir) see Garcia Gόmez, ibid., kharja no. XIV.

126 Similar forms, e.g. asmarānī, ashqarānī, are current usage in some Arabic vernaculars.

127 G.G. includes this term among the Romance terms, Romancismos, he finds in the Dīwān, (as he does also with the qubay, the diminutive of qabā. See n. 99 above).

128 wa-tarā kabshīmu'allaq wa–'l–qutaytas tahtu ya'wi. This constitutes a regular dimeter ramal.

1 A good part of the research work on this article was carried out at the National Library in Madrid and the Instituto Hispano-άrabe de Cultura, during a study leave funded by the School of Oriental and African Studies, to which I should like to express my thanks.

The diminutives in the dīwān of Ibn Quzmān: a product of their Hispanic milieu?1

  • J. A Abu-Haidar


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