Look at this old bookplate!
February 21, 2014 1:29 PM   Subscribe

What language is this? What does it say?

In the bottom scroll on this bookplate (picture on Flickr) of the bible scholar, David Durrell (1728-1775), there is an inscription (not the printed Latin motto) in what looks like a right-to-left script. What is the language and what does the inscription say? (I've been asked to help with this for the book's description in the library's catalog.)

The inscription appears to have been penned onto the bookplate, and is not part of the etching. The bookplate is in a copy of Upton's Dionysius (1728), if that's relevant.
posted by steef to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm reasonably certain that the language is Arabic, but I'm afraid I can't help with translation
posted by tau_ceti at 2:16 PM on February 21, 2014

Response by poster: Actually, considering the previous owner, I wonder if it mightn't be a form of Aramaic. Durrell was an Old-Testament scholar, and an advocate for a new translation of the Bible.
posted by steef at 2:33 PM on February 21, 2014

Best answer: It's Arabic. It's saying something about knowledge and literature being better than money and family lineage.
posted by Paquda at 7:23 PM on February 21, 2014

Response by poster: Well, that's ironic, considering the Horace quote says something like "No inheritance is better than good parents." I wonder if the Arabic phrase is lifted from somewhere?

Thanks, tau_ceti and Paquda!
posted by steef at 4:03 AM on February 22, 2014

Best answer: Agree with Paquda, and if it helps I think the text is: ال فخر بالمال والنسب بل فخر بالعلم والادب
posted by Gordafarin at 4:03 AM on February 22, 2014

Response by poster: That is very helpful, Gordafarin!
posted by steef at 7:22 AM on February 22, 2014

To be more exact:
لا فخر بالمال ونسب بل فخر بالعلم والأدب
Nobleness is not in wealth and lineage, rather nobleness is in knowledge and culture.
posted by Paquda at 8:41 AM on February 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Sorry, should be:
لا فخر بالمال والنسب بل فخر بالعلم والأدب
posted by Paquda at 8:52 AM on February 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

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