Talk:Almanac

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Comments[edit]

This is again something which in my view is better handled using a definition that by attempting to turn it into an article. I vote the link should be redirected to the Wiktionary definition of almanac. --(talk to)BozMo 12:43, 21 May 2004 (UTC)

Historical Gap[edit]

There's a great gap from Ptolemy's Phaesis to the 17th c. English printed almanacs. Much needs to be filled in here. --SteveMcCluskey 02:39, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

Origin of word?[edit]

In the first section, this article specifies an origin for the word "almanac." In the very next section, it says the origin is unclear. Only one of these statements can be true. Which one is it? -- Denelson83 21:29, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

As far as I can tell, "unclear" is closer to the mark (with the relationship between the modern Arabic word and the medieval Arabic word being one of the question marks). I've added a link to the online etymological dictionary, and re-worded accordingly. If people can find more sources, maybe we can make a more definitive statement. Kingdon 17:22, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

The origin of the word is very, very obscure[edit]

The 4 May 2009 version of this article's etymology section says Almanac is "from the Arabic word al-manakh[ref1] "calendar, almanac", citing the "Kitab al-Manakh," a 13th century publication by eminent Moroccan scholar, mathematician and astronomer, Ibn al-Banna al-Marrakushi.[ref2]" However, Roger Bacon used the word Almanac in a book dated 1267, when Ibn al-Banna was only 10 years old. Moreover the biography of Ibn al-Banna at MacTutor History of Mathematics archive says "he [al-Banna] is the first to use the expression almanakc (in Arabic al-manakh meaning weather) in a work containing astronomical and meteorological data."

The following is a quote from the Oxford English Dictionary about the eytmology of Almanac. I've copied this text from the website laudatortemporisacti.blogspot.com.

Appears in Medieval Latin as almanac(h) in end of 13thC, and soon after (though it may have been earlier) in most of the Romance langs., It. almanacco, Sp. almanaque, Fr. almanach, the immediate source of which was apparently a Spanish Arabic al-manākh. Pedro de Alcala, in his Arabic-Castilian Vocabulista (1505), has 'manākh, almanaque, calendario'; also 'manaḥ (probably meant for same word), relox del sol' [sundial]. But the word occurs nowhere else as Arabic, has no etymon in the language, and its origin is uncertain.... The earliest notices are: 1267 Roger Bacon, Opus Majus xv. (1733) 120 'Antiqui astronomi ponunt principium anni circiter principium Octobris, sicut patet in expositione tabularum, quae Almanac vocantur'; 1267 Roger Bacon, Opus Tertium xi. (1859) 36 'Hae tabulae vocantur Almanach vel Tallignum, in quibus..homo posset inspicere omnia ea quae in caelo sunt omni die, sicut nos in calendario inspicimus omnia festa sanctorum'. Circa 1345 Giovanni Villani, Cronica XI. xli, 'Secondo l'almanacco di Profazio Giudeo, e delle tavole Toletane dovea essere la detta congiunzione di Saturno e di Giove a di 20 del detto mese di Marzo' [where the 'Tables of Toledo' (constructed c 1080 by Arzachel) again point to the Arabs in Spain].

The OED then goes on to report a few etymology candidates, and rejects them all.

The etymology book by Weekley (1921) similarly says: "First seen in Roger Bacon. Apparently from Spanish Arabic, al-manakh, but this is not an Arabic word [interpret: this is not a word found in Arabic texts].... The word remains a puzzle." The etymology book by Skeat (1888) similary concludes that the construction of an Arabic etymology "is not satisfactory".

Returning to the current Wikipedia article, the article goes on to say: "the ultimate origin of the word is unknown." The word "ultimate" there is misleading because it's insinuating that (a) an Arabic origin is known and (b) the etymology of the Arabic word is unknown. Whereas the earliest documented use of the word is by Roger Bacon, a man who couldn't speak Arabic. I propose inserting the following text from the book "Word Origins" by John Ayto (2005): "The ultimate source of the word is obscure. Its first syllable, al-, and its general relevance to medieval science and technology, strongly suggest an Arabic origin, but no convincing candidate has been found." Seanwal111111 (talk) 08:19, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

The origin of the word, "Almanac," is from Patristic Greek "almenichiata" and dates to before 339 A.D., prior to the origin of Arabic. It is found in Eusebius Caesarius, De Praep. Evang. III, 4. (Migne, Patrologia Graeca, XXI, 169c) The word almenichiata is [Ptolemaic?] Egyptian for the supernatural rulers of the celestial bodies according to Porphyry. —Preceding unsigned comment added by John N. Lupia III (talkcontribs) 03:53, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

This statement is problematic. First of all, Arabic did not "originate" at some time after A.D. 339, it represents a continuous development from Proto-Semitic, and has several written sources before A.D. 339. Second, the paragraph is not consistent. Even if it (for some valid reason) were correct that the origin or the word should not be sought in Arabic, the origin cannot, according to the statement above, at least, be Greek, as the next sentence goes on to claim that it is Egyptian. Third, the article as it stands is in itself problematic, as it is formed as a polemic statement ("prior to the origin of Arabic") even though the article itself does not make any reference to Arabic before that sentence. Rewriting is needed. Trondtr (talk) 06:39, 27 December 2007 (UTC).
Here's what the Oxford English Dictionary has to say about that item in Eusebius:
Eusebius, De Praep. Evangel. iii. 4, quotes Porphyrius as to the Egyptian belief in astrology, in horoscopes, and so-called lords of the ascendant, 'whose names are given in the almenichiaká (ἐν τοῖς ἀλμενιχιακοῖς), with their various powers to cure diseases, their risings and settings, and their presages of things future.' Notwithstanding the suggestive sound and use of this word (of which however the real form is very uncertain), the difficulties of connecting it historically either with the Spanish Arabic manākh, or with med.L. almanach without Arabic intermediation, seem insurmountable. Nor does the sense really point to such tables as those described by Roger Bacon, Chaucer, and Regiomontanus.
Similary the Etymology Dictionary by Weekley (1921) says: "Eusebius (4 cent.) has Greek almenikiaka, calendars, but there is a great gap between this and the medieval forms." Seanwal111111 (talk) 08:19, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

Works and Days[edit]

Hesiod's poem, Works and Days, was a good example of a agriculturally-focused astronomical (as well as ethically and generally advising) text, after the Babylonians but before the Hellenistic period. Furthermore, I strongly object to calling this agricultural tradition of astronomy "Hellenistic" because that word implies the Hellenistic period, beginning 323 with the death of Alexander the Great (see Hellenistic Period), when in fact the texts of Democritus and Hesiod were written earlier. Hesiod's work dates from about 700 BCE (Works and Days.

Moreover, I can name other relevant ancient texts that ought to mentioned in the history of almanacs. MULAPIN, a Babylonian star catalog (Mul.Apin), comes to mind. Also, the Egyptians knew that the morning rising of Sirius marked the beginning of summer (Sirius), though I do not know of any text they had to do so. Quintus Twig (talk) 20:24, 5 December 2009 (UTC)







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