Monday, February 28, 2011

A graphic depicting the shofar's notes in a Spanish siddur from 1552.

Here's an interesting page from Libro de Oracyones, the Ladino siddur published in Ferrara 1552 by Yom Tob Athias (the Spaniard formerly known as Jeronimo de Vargas).

As you can see, this page contains the order for Shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah. Most interesting is the graphic depiction of the three kinds of sounds, tekiah, which is one long note, shevarim, which is three shorter notes, and teruah, which is staccato.

H. P. Salomon points out that at this period in time, translators of Judeo-Spanish liturgy used the word "aublacion" for teruah (first word, third line from the bottom), which is a special Spanish word coined by Jews. The very first Jewish translation of the Bible into Castilian ("Spanish"), the 15th century Alba Bible, which was translated by Rabbi Mose Arragel, rendered teruah five separate ways, depending on the context, in five places in the Bible. These terms were aullamiento, aullar, aullaçion, jubilaçion and clamor. Salomon writes that Arragel explained jubilaçion in a glossary appended to the work - "It is a way of blowing trumpets or horns to express joy [and] by making certain sounds and notes." Apparently this term was a preferred Jewish translation for teruah at the time, probably because of its etymological connection with yovel, which was unfamiliar to Christians and therefore required an explanation (cf. Rashi on Lev. 25:10 - ומה שמה יובל שמה על שם תקיעת שופר).

In the 16th century, the translation technique that was prevalent among Spanish exiles was to be hyperliteral and to give one equivalent Spanish word for every shade of meaning a single Hebrew word could have, even if the Spanish word did not carry such meanings. The result was, of course, some very strange translation. In these new translations, aublaçion was used for teruah every time, as in our example. You will not find this word in a dictionary. Salomon says this word combines aullaçion (which comes from aullar, to howl) and jubilaçion whether through conscious or unconscious blending.

See "Meam Loez - The Language Corner" by H.P. Salomon, editor, in The American Sephardi 7-8 1975.

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