Mon, 08 Mar 2021
Canon in Euopean languages and Arabic
Today I was reading about Avicenna's work The Canon of Medicine and learned that the original Arabic title
is rendered in Latin script as al-Qānūn fī al-Ṭibb with al-Qānun (“the law”) being translated into English as “Canon” (“rule” or “law”). The English word comes via French and Latin, ultimately from Greek κανών, “rule”.
Is the resemblance between Qānūn and κανών a coincidence, or is the Arabic word originally borrowed from Greek?
I was about to write the next sentence “and where could I have looked this up?” but then I remembered that this kind of thing can be looked up in English Wiktionary. English Wiktionary is not a dictionary of English, but a universal dictionary in English. It not only defines English words, but also words in many other languages, with the descriptions and etmologies written in English.
So I looked it up, and it is a Greek loanword!
The Internet is amazing and wonderful. Truly, we live in an age of marvels.
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