Introduction to the Multilingual Glossary - DO Middle East Garden Traditions

Introduction | Browse the Glossary | Acronyms for Reference Works | Transliteration Conventions

The garden vocabularies in Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Ottoman, and Urdu share a large number of words. It is well known, for instance, that the Ottoman language incorporated a significant number of Arabic and Persian words, but their meanings did not always coincide with the originals. The adoption of a foreign word transfers it from one cultural context to a new one, and often as a consequence creates shifts in meaning. This is often unnoticed and results in misinterpretations of garden or gardening terms. A reader of Arabic, for instance, may be able to identify the word or phrase, but miss the layers of meaning that get added onto a term when it is adopted into Persian and Ottoman texts. The contributors to this glossary (Mahvash Alemi, Nurhan Atasoy, Yücel Dağlı, Mohammed El Faïz, Expiración García Sánchez, Yizhar Hirschfeld, Abdul Rehman) selected the most commonly used words (1) for describing ancient gardens in Judea by archaeologists; (2) in technical texts in al-Andalus; (3) in texts about gardens written by authors of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Persian, Ottoman, and Mughal empires, and indirectly related to royal gardens. All other terms were excluded, such as those regarding plants, which deserve a multilingual vocabulary of their own.

The contributors agreed upon a few common rules. First, the transliterated words are listed in alphabetical order. Second, a short translation into English is provided, and accompanied by an etymology only when it adds to the understanding of the translation. Third, whenever available, indications of a vernacular source or of the use of the term by a European traveler have been provided. The definition for the glossary’s Persian words come with longer descriptions that underline some of the controversies surrounding their meanings. These descriptions will be made available as PDFs in the future.

Each word is followed by an indication of the language for which the definition is provided. This makes it possible to check the variations of meaning for related words. Bibliographical references are indicated by an acronym. Each definition is followed by an indication of the author and the date of the entry.

The original multilingual glossary was supplemented in 2020 with new entries added by Sasson Chahanovich, 2018–2020 William R. Tyler Fellow.