Situating a Fatimid
wisdom compilation in al-Andalus: the case of al-Mubashshir
al-Hikam and its Latin and
David Joseph Wrisley
American University of
My paper is
based on digital textual research that attempts to situate
in al-Andalus a compilation of wise sayings by al-Mubashshir
ibn-Fatik composed in fifth/eleventh century Egypt. There is
evidence of this text circulating in al-Andalus as early as
the early sixth/twelfth century and the influence of this
text on medieval Iberia and European cultures is often
discussed, although that influence has never been subjected
to quantitative analysis.
Arabic text and its paratext contains significant Islamic
material—including passages clearly marking its Isma’ili
orientation—such passages were largely excised from in the
translation into Spanish. The research question I am
pursuing is whether the specific diction of the Arabic
original and translations was typical of al-Andalus or not.
Initial research I have carried out in the field of
computational stylistics (otherwise known as stylometry)
tends to point to the centrality of the Spanish and Latin
translations within specific literary fields.
paper will discuss what results we might infer from the
above network of most frequent words in this Spanish
language corpus (and a Latin one not shown). For the
purposes of this conference, I will press further tracing
lexical evolution in a few fields (ethics, natural and
political philosophy) prevalent in the Arabic, Spanish and
Latin versions of the
Mukhtar al-Hikam, in order to
mine a larger trilingual corpus for those terms. The purpose
of this experiment will be to discuss to what extent we can
speak of potential conceptual influence of a text emerging
from a learned Shi’ite environment in al-Andalus and then
subsequently on thirteenth-century Europe.
paper will end with some general reflections about how
textual analysis and other computational techniques from the
digital humanities can be applied in translingual use cases,
particularly those involving knowledge transfer from Islamic
lands of the southern Mediterranean.
translation, digital textual analysis, translingual corpora,
stylometry, text mining.