By Holger Gzella

Aramaic is a continuing thread working during the a number of civilizations of the close to East, old and smooth, from one thousand BCE to the current, and has been the language of small principalities, global empires, and a good percentage of the Jewish-Christian culture. Holger Gzella describes its cultural and linguistic background as a continual evolution from its beginnings to the appearance of Islam. For the 1st time the person stages of the language, their socio-historical underpinnings, and the textual resources are mentioned comprehensively in mild of the newest linguistic and old learn and with abundant consciousness to scribal traditions, multilingualism, and language as a marker of cultural self-awareness. Many new observations on Aramaic are thereby built-in right into a coherent old framework.

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Additional info for A Cultural History of Aramaic: From the Beginnings to the Advent of Islam (Handbook of Oriental Studies, Volume 111)

Sample text

Demonstratives, by contrast, differ significantly within Semitic. Aramaic originally had the proximal deictics (‘this’) /ðenā/ (masculine singular), /ðāʾ/ > /ðā/ (feminine singular), and /ʾellɛ̄/ (common plural), which were later expanded by /hā-/, and reflexes of the distal deictics (‘that’) */ðek/ (masculine singular; later by-forms derive from */ðenāk/ and */ðokom/52), */ðāk(ī)/ (feminine singular), and /ʾellɛk/ (plural), attested at least from Achaemenid Official Aramaic onwards; otherwise, the third-person independent pronouns could act as distal deictics.

Verbs with a root-final long vowel /ī/ preserve that vowel in all “perfect” and imperative forms (resulting in /ay/ with /-ī/ and /aw/ with /-ū/ of the respective afformatives), but shift it to /ɛ̄/ in all “imperfect” and participle forms as 71 Cf. Gzella 2014a: 96–97. 36 chapter 1 well as in the basic-stem infinitive. Many of such verbs, however, have a “perfect” in /-ā/ (which becomes /-ay-/ before consonantal afformatives, /-āt/ in the third-person feminine singular, and /-aw/ in the third-persons plural).

Gzella 2013e. The typologically more frequent use of the indirect object marker for highlighting a direct object becomes common in Achaemenid Official Aramaic and later Eastern Aramaic, whereas Western Aramaic and Samʾalian each have specific particles. Vestiges may occur in formulaic expressions in early Old Aramaic, cf.  46. 28 chapter 1 masc. emph. fem. abs. fem. cstr. fem. emph. Singular Dual Plural /-āʾ/56 > /-ā/ /-ā/ (< /-(a)t/) /-at/ /-tāʾ/ > /-tā/ --/-tayn/ /-tay/ --- /-ayyāʾ/ > /-ayyā/ /-ān/ /-āt/ /-ātāʾ/ > /-ātā/ The gender of a noun appears from its agreement with adjectives and verbs; a number of feminines (especially paired body parts and many place names) are not marked by the corresponding endings, and gender endings may differ between singular and plural in some words.

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