Still plodding on with Ibn Abi Usaibia

The process of OCR’ing Ibn Abi Usaibia’s History of Physicians is continuing, and the proofing has reached page 600.  This is something of a milestone, in that this leaves only one more “chunk” — the portion from 601-946, which the translators thought of as “book 4” (although they did not divide the first 600 pages into books).

I’ve been noticing changes in the way the text is translated.  In the last few pages, the translator has started to reference the authors named with a footnote linking to Brockelmann’s Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur.  This is welcome in a way, but of course indicates a change in approach.

A much less welcome change is that, from Ibn Sina onwards, the translator is not bothering to translate the names of many of the works written by the authors listed, leaving them in a transliteration of the Arabic.  This is a really serious defect, and one that may require attention.  It will be annoying if, in order to make this useful to the rest of us, I have to hire an Arabist to translate these bits of text.

Likewise there are embedded chunks of verse, mostly omitted by the translator.  I feel less compunction here — it is unlikely that most of  these will give us anything.

Kopf, the translator, must have been under a rather strange brief when making the translation.  He has represented all the long vowels and the sub-linear dots, albeit doing so with his typewriter must have been painful, and he doesn’t always catch every one.  But for whom would it be useful to write “Allāh” rather than “Allah”?  Only, surely, to those who could read Arabic anyway?  I can’t help feeling that he shouldn’t have indicated either.  In English we don’t use these things.

My own approach in my transcription is to represent the long vowels, but not the sub-linear dots.  In many cases the characters with the latter are simply not present in the common fonts anyway, as I have found while proofing.  I’d like to have them, of course; but I’m not sure it’s worth the effort.

I hope that all these long vowels won’t mean that searches in Google and Bing don’t find important matches, tho.


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