Monday, April 10, 2006

Chad Gadya

I asked Mar Gavriel whether the proper pronunciation of the refrain in the Chad Gadya poem is "de-zabbin abba" or "di-zvan abba". I've seen it both ways but the majority of printed texts seem to favor the latter.

He responded that "de-zabbin abba" means "that my father sold" and "di-zvan abba" means "that my father bought". The most common translation of this phrase is that this is talking about the goat that the father bought, so "di-zvan abba" seems to be grammaticall correct. Although the phrase could really mean that the father sold the goat.

Mar Gavriel seems to recall that Heinrich Guggenheimer, in his book The Scholars' Haggadah, argues that the original author was confused with Aramaic grammar and incorrectly wrote "de-zabbin abba", and later editors corrected it to "di-zvan abba".

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