This post relates to a medieval Jewish scholar who uses what I believe to be transliterated Latin in his work. Below I provide some basic background to his comment, with the main question beginning below the horizontal rule.
Rabbinic Jewish law prohibits certain types of mixtures, including crossbreeding distinct species of animals. In expounding on this law, a passage of Mishnah, a body of work originally transmitted orally as an interpretation and explanation of Jewish laws, lists a series of pairs of animals which are similar to one another yet are distinct enough such that crossbreeding them would be forbidden. Among the pairs on this list are the village dog and the fox (village dog as opposed to hunting dog mentioned previously in a different pair).
Rabbi Isaac son of Melchizedek, who lived c. 1070-1150 in Siponto, Italy, writes on this, in defining the phrase which I've translated above as "village dog," (my translation, parentheses added for clarification, brackets added to expand his "etc." based on the original passage he cites):
כלב קטן שצווח בלילה במדברות מן כפרים. תנינן בבבא קמא במרובה מגדלים כלבים כופרים וכו׳ לעז מלקו
A small dog which cries in the night in the wilderness from the villages. We have learned in (Tractate) Baba Kama, in (the chapter) Merubah (folio 80b), "We may raise village dogs[, cats, monkeys, and genets, because they serve to clean the house of vermin]." מלקו in foreign tongue.
Throughout his work he refers to some words as "in Greek" and others as "in foreign tongue," so I assume that this word is intended to be Latin or proto-Italian. Because he does not include vowels, it's hard to tell if this word is meant to be pronounced m.lko, m.lku, or m.lk.v, where the periods are some vowel.
In summary, then, I'm trying to figure out this word which is:
- Pronounced m.lko, m.lku, or m.lk.v;
- Refers to a type of dog which was commonly kept in rural villages to aid in extermination;
- Was not used for hunting.
Obviously dog breeds in the modern sense did not exist back then, so even an identification of the Latin word, even if it just translates into "village dog for rat extermination," would be helpful.
Any help in deciphering this word and translating it to English would be of immense help.