The Armenian Language in A Multilingual Dictionary of Middle Ages

The Armenian Language in A Multilingual DictionaryToday, it is fair to say that few people think about the events in medieval Yemen to the south of modern Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea coast. However, a multilingual dictionary was created exactly there in Middle Ages. It included the Armenian language besides other languages.

According to the “100 Years, 100 Facts” website, the period of the 13th-14th centuries was the era of the great Mongol conquests starting from China and ending in Europe as well as the end of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. It was a period of time when the East and West were closely connected to each other by active land trade.

One of the manifestations of this cosmopolitan atmosphere appeared under the patronage of the sixth king of Yemen from the Rasulid dynasty Al-Afdal al-Abbas, who ruled from 1363 to 1377.

Although then it was not uncommon to have dictionaries of the main languages of the region, in particular, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, the dictionary of six languages was very unusual.

In the “Rasulid Hexaglot”, as it is now called, more than a thousand words are listed in Arabic, Persian, Turkic, Mongolian, Greek, and Armenian. It is noteworthy that at that time the Armenian was considered a fairly significant regional language in the Middle East.

This document was found in the 1960s, and it took about thirty years to study, translate, and republish it as a modern scientific work.

It should also be noted that the “Rasulid Hexaglot” was written in Arabic. You rarely see Armenian or Greek words in Arabic transcription.  The system of transliteration indicates that the Cilician dialect of the Armenian language, which is close to the modern Western Armenian language, reached Yemen in the 14th century.

Sourse: Ara Mirzoyan

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