Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Bay Area
Jim brings up a good point: as collectors we have a need for classification, unlike the original users of the weapons. Therefore, we often get caught up in needless semantics discussions.
That being said, I believe the people who made and used these swords still made some differentiation - for example, to them a short dagger would not be the same as one with a 22 inches/55 cm blade, as the two would have served an entire different purpose. In various cultures, we see a similar trend of knives becoming longer to serve as a sort of a short sword: whether it is the yataghans in the Ottoman Empire, the bauerwehr (and in later times the hanger) in Europe, the Khyber knife in Afghanistan or the sboula, the concept is the same. Whether because of socio-economic restraints: a sword was an expensive weapon, and in many cultures restricted to only certain social classes, or simply because a full sized sword was impractical and something easier to carry around was necessary, long knives as side arms seem to have existed almost everywhere.
When looking at the picture of the warrior with the afedali musket, the sboula is thrust in his sash not dissimilar to how a yataghan would be thrust in the silyahlik, and while the gun is his main weapon, he probably wanted a side arm in case a hand to hand combat situation arose. So when looking at sboulas, I see them as that: a longer dagger for use in those situations where a normal sized dagger would not be enough, and where a full sized sword or sabre would be too much or simply unobtainable.
The janwi (djenoui, genoui) on the other hand seems to be of shorter, more regular dagger size proportions and hilted like a koummaya. Obviously, longer versions like the one Kubur posted from wodimi's site exist, and there are certainly shorter daggers with an H-shaped hilt. There is no clear line between the two sometimes, taking us back to Jim's post about the futility of trying to come up with a rigid classification system.
To sum it up, I use "sboula" to refer to a longer dagger (20 inches+ blade) with an H shaped hilt, and "genoui" to refer to a regular sized straight dagger with a koummaya type hilt, with the understanding that this terminology is imperfect and exceptions and in-between versions of both forms exist.