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Abstract

Premodern manuscript production was fluid. Books and papers freely changed hands, often against their authors’ wishes. In the absence of copyright laws, certain countermeasures arose. This study considers one of them: self-commentary, meaning an author’s explanations on his own works. The article deals with two cases of medieval self-commentary across linguistic and cultural boundaries: the Arabic author and rationalist Abū al-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī (d. 1057 CE), and the professional Byzantine littérateur John Tzetzes (d. 1180 CE). After an overview of their lives and works, with a focus on the key role of self-explanation, the article considers their respective manuscript cultures, which involved face-to-face educational settings that nonetheless permitted widespread copying. There follows a discussion of textual materiality, which reveals a mutual concern to avoid tampering or misinterpretation. Then, the article shows how both men tried to direct readers by exploiting language’s capacity for multiple meanings. The conclusion ponders the relevance of this study for problems posed by digital book technology.

In: Philological Encounters
In: Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics

Abstract

This study attempts to offer a single unified account for the syntactic features of the pronominal copula in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), traditionally known as ḍamīr al-faṣl ‘Separation Pronoun/SP’ within the Cardiff Grammar (CG) model of Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG). Such a pronoun is typically used in nominal verbless clauses to separate Subject from its Predicate (Complement) when both are definite. This study argues against the two traditional accounts that analyze it either as a redundant pronoun that has no significant syntactical function or as the second Subject in the nominal embedded clausal Complement of the first Subject. The study also proposes that the modern generative account that considers it a pronominal copula is problematic as the function of this pronoun is not linking, but rather separating, emphasizing, and disambiguating. Therefore, the study proposes to analyze this SP as an Extension of the Subject (SEx) in a tripartite structure.

In: Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics
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In: Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics
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Abstract

The spectrum of Neo-Aramaic languages and dialects, spoken in an arch of language-islets that stretch from south-western Syria to south-western Iran, exhibits rich lexical repositories inherited from early layers of the Aramaic language. Within this wealthy lexical legacy, some genuine Aramaic lexical items are not attested in any of the literary Aramaic sources, hence it is only by virtue of these modern lexical manifestations that the existence of the ancient Aramaic antecedents of these words can be inferred or reconstructed. Such historical lacunae concern also meanings that must be of considerable antiquity, yet these meanings, pertaining to well-known Aramaic words, have no evidence in literary Aramaic, having surfaced only in the modern era. This article discusses ten selected cases of pre-modern Aramaic words and meanings that were discovered by etymological and comparative examination of their modern reflexes in North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic (NENA), Western Neo-Aramaic and Ṭuroyo.

In: Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics

Abstract

The reconstruction of the Proto-Chadic (PC) vowel system has hitherto been considered impossible. Proposals covered one (*a), two (*a, *ə), three (*a, *i, *u) and four (*a, *ə, *i, *u) vowels. The one-vowel solution gains support by evidence from mainly the languages of the Central Chadic branch, together with the notion of palatalisation and labialisation prosodies, which create particular ‘colourings’ for vowels and consonants in phonetic surface realisations and have been discovered to operate in all branches of the family, but to very different extent. Based on new insights into the phonological history of Central Chadic (Wolff 2022, forthcoming), at variance with Gravina (2014), and referring back to a typology of Chadic vowel systems suggested by Schuh (2017), we can now tentatively delineate the development from a minimal vowel inventory */a/, *[ə] in PC to vowel systems of between one and 15 (short and long) phonemic vowels in modern Chadic languages. Diachronic vowel-system typology in Chadic allows a critical review of received wisdom concerning vowel systems elsewhere in Afroasiatic, potentially touching on issues pertaining to the internal sub-classification of the phylum. At least the vowel system of Tashelhiyt (Berber) corresponds in essential details to the PC minimal vowel system, a non-trivial observation that raises questions concerning genetic heritage, language contact, and/or areal innovation.

In: Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics

Abstract

This study investigates the realization of the two most common word-level stress patterns in Hebrew, final and penultimate, at utterance-final position. Twenty-six disyllabic words that form minimal pairs, which differ only in their stress pattern, were embedded in 52 sentences. The mean values of three acoustic parameters—duration, F0, and intensity—were measured for vowels of the target words. Findings show that duration is significantly longer at stressed vowels, similar to previous findings on words at utterance-mid position. Lower intensity is assigned to the utterance-final vowels regardless of the stress pattern, but the degree of lowering does depend on the stress pattern. Finally, lower F0 values are found in the utterance-final vowels, but the degree of lowering is similar to both stress patterns. We conclude that duration is the main cue at the prosodic word level, while F0 is used by Hebrew speakers to cue higher prosodic units.

In: Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics
Author:

Abstract

In 1508 the legendary Sulṭān of Sindh, Niẓām al-Dīn Jām Nindō, of the Samma dynasty (1351–1522) died. The Sulṭān’s death occasioned a major political shift in Sindh at the turn of the sixteenth century, which ultimately led to the fall of the Sammas in 1522. This period is marked with repeated instances of military and civil unrests and dethroning attempts. The primary theme of this article is to demonstrate that these particular cycles of political instability defined the parameters of contemporary architectural undertakings. For this purpose, two of the most ambitious funerary constructions in the Samma royal necropolis of Maklī at Thatta (southern Sindh)—the tomb enclosure of Samma military commander Mubārak Khān and the monumental mausoleum of Sulṭān Niẓām al-Dīn—are reassessed. The article also locates political undertones in the architecture of these mausolea, and deciphers the implicit subtext interlaced into their epigraphic as well as visual motifs.

In: Philological Encounters
Free access
In: Philological Encounters