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PhoeniX
Netherlands
Interests: linguistics, comparative linguistics, Sino-Tibetan, Indo-European, Tangut, Berber Languages,
Recent Activity
@Benjamin: I really like this parallel you mentioned about ḥirom/ḥiråm; It does seem very similar to this. The difference being that ḥyrm and ḥyrwm are both actually correct ways of spelling ḥirom. ʔibrahīm simply should not be writable as ʔbrhm. Long ī is always spelled with y. I'm sympathetic to Jeffery's argument. To this we may add ʔismāʕīl as well. So maybe ʔifʕālīl was reinterpreted as a 'vowel pattern for biblical figures'. Still doesn't explain both spellings existing though (Which Jeffery seems to be unaware of? Ignores? SPELLINGS MATTER GUYS!). And not just in isolated Surahs, some Surahs have both and one Aya even has both! Is ابرهم a Nabataeogram? Why this specific name? Why nothing else? Especially since the Nabataeans weren't primarily Jewish, it doesn't make much sense (the name seems to be unattested in Nabataean even). @Lameen: Thanks! Those are very nice parallels. I'll see if there is anything to that. One that comes to mind that could show something is ǧibrīl, but it is read as such by Hišām, and not as ǧibraʔīl that we see in several other traditions. Which honestly makes it look more alien from an Arabic phonotactic perspective. But yeah, the problem remains: why are both spellings present in the first place?
The Islamic name ابرهيم ʔibrāhīm, has always been somewhat puzzling. While this is of course the same name as our Abraham̨ from the Hebrew ʔaḇråhåm, we are left with an unanswered problem in the final syllable, which has randomly shifted the final ā to ī. Many Arabists invoke 'Imālah' to... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Phoenix's blog
That's an excellent question. I had not really considered that option. My feeling is that that would not be the most obvious solution, but seems difficult to completely exclude as a possibility. One argument I think one could make is that, in the order that the Surahs are now (which I think is fair to assume is the order in which the Archetypal Quran was written down), you find throughout the text: al-Aykah, Laykah, Laykah, al-Aykah. Assuming the scribe wrote the manuscript in this order, one can imagine them first writing it as al-Aykah, and then making up their mind and switching to Laykah. But then switching back to al-Aykah again for its final attestation would then be a little unusual. Incidentally, I hadn't thought of this analogy yet: This mistake is essentially equivalent to what we find in some German/Dutch/English misparsings of the indefinite article like: Dutch: een adder < *een nadder Belgian Dutch: een nonkel < *een onkel One interpretation takes the definite article as the start of the next word, the other interpretation takes it as the definite article, and assume the word starts with a vowel. It's a little hard to say which of the two was original, although if the intepretation is correct that Laykah comes from Leuke Kome (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leuke_Kome), than the al-aykah interpretation is the reanalysis.
The Quran speaks in multiple places about a ʔaṣḥābu l-ʔaykah 'Companions of the Wood/Thicket', a people associated with the prophet Šuʕayb, traditionally taken to be the same person as the Biblical Jethro. The name ʔaṣḥābu l-ʔaykah is usually considered to consist of ʔaṣḥāb 'companions', + the definite article l followed... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Phoenix's blog
Dear Etienne: For many of these words (e.g. 'bean') it's not so much Proto-Indo-European words that are entering Berber (and Basque and Egyptian etc.), but rather a language of the original agricultural settlers of Europe (and, apparently, North-Africa) that were there already before the Proto-Indo-Europeans arrived. That's certainly the Hypothesis from which Guus Kroonen's database is working. It's elegant because it helps explain why there is such a strong mismatch between what archaeologists generally thing about the settlement of Europe, and what linguists think.
I think you should think in that direction yes. I just remembered another one: *a-agăr 'field', cf. Lat. ager. It might be a loanword from Latin, but it has undergone Mid Vowel Harmony, and therefore shows up as igr in most Berber languages, quite different from the Latin word. http://dieat.inss.sc.ku.dk/display/entry.php?lemma_id=68 DIEAT doesn't mention any cognates outside of europe, but I believe the Sumerian word is quite similar as well...
Yes, the similarity is probably not a coincidence. There are a couple of agricultural and animal husbandry Wanderwörter shared between Berber and Indo-European. I did a little bit of work on Guus Kroonen's wonderful Database of Indo-European Agricultural Terminology. http://dieat.inss.sc.ku.dk/display/entry.php?lemma_id=905 cf. also Proto-Semitic *gady 'id.', which is presumably related. http://dieat.inss.sc.ku.dk/display/entry.php?lemma_id=705 http://dieat.inss.sc.ku.dk/display/entry.php?lemma_id=334 Also in metallurgy you find interesting ones: *a-ẓrəf 'silver' certainly is related to the wanderwort family that 'silver' itself belongs to. (http://dieat.inss.sc.ku.dk/display/entry.php?lemma_id=5443 I should add more cognates to this one) Also: *a-ldun~a-buldun 'lead', uzzal 'iron' (cf. Hebrew barzel) There are probably more, but I haven't found them yet. === *ă is normally thought to be a central low vowel [ɐ], but if I'm correct about mid vowel harmony, it's likely that it was closer to [ə]. It ultimately corresponds to Proto-Semitic short *a (a low front or mid short vowel), so does probably come from something like [ɐ] originally.
I recently sat down to read the wonderful article by the Naima Louali & Gérard Philippson (2004) "Berber expansion into and within north-west Africa: a linguistic distribution", Afrika und Übersee, pp. 105-130. A wonderful article that discusses some of the chronological issues of the reconstruction of Proto-Berber. The internal coherence... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2017 at Phoenix's blog
A recent article by Ali ibn Ibrahim Ghabban & Robert Hoyland, discussing the earliest discovered Islamic Inscription, a short footnote (#16) states that the Khashnah inscription should be dated to 52AH and not as 56AH as the edition princeps [1] They do not elaborate on why this reading (citing Fahmi)... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2016 at Phoenix's blog
I don't quite know what it means to "introduce patterns of poetry" into a text. So it's hard to say whether that would correspond to point #2. Which paper did Manfred Kropp write this in? Do you have a reference? I'll have a look. #1 Good question. It's difficult to conceive of evidence for that. Some options: really early evidence of comments on that the Quran should be read as classical Arabic / a highly unusual early Quran manuscript whose transcription requires such a reading would be reasonable proofs to make that case.
It is difficult to say this more clearly. In the language in which the Quran was written down, the word ṯamūd is clearly of a different conjugational class than it is in the reading tradition. Therefore, there is a palpable disconnect between the reading tradition and the Quranic text. There are two possible solutions to this: 1. The recitation traditions represent the original prophetic dialect. The Quran was written down in a different dialect from the prophetic dialect. 2. The Quranic text represents the original prophetic dialect. The reading traditions have become more classicized over time. Considering how strong the focus becomes on Classical Arabic around the start of the 9th century, I find the second option more likely, but a scholar of Islam is sure to be able to develop a more nuanced view on this than me.
This is true of course. The QCT does not particularly give the impression it is trying to approximate any of the traditional readings though (if anything, Warsh seems closest to me). It also does not seem to be a 'compound' of different readings. Most spelling conventions are surprisingly consistent across the whole document. And whenever the spelling convention is inconsistent (as with writing construct feminines with tāʔ) those inconsistencies happen rather randomly even within a single Sura, and sometimes even in aya's basically next to each other. So there a 'multiple source' explanation seems to not work particularly well. That point, of course, speaks quite strongly for the traditional narrative of the Uthmanic Canon (and the Sanaa Palimpsest then probably represent a pre-Uthamnic written tradition?).
In my blogpost Is Thamud a triptote? I suggested that the name of the people ṯamūd was a triptote in the language of the QCT, rather than a diptote as it is in Classical Arabic. A triptotic inflection of this noun would be Nom. ṯamūdun <ṯmwd> Gen. ṯamūdin <ṯmwd> and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2016 at Phoenix's blog
Dear Al-Jallad, Your criticisms are of course valid, and I would have to do special pleading for stuff like ʕmrw /ʕamrū/ (a spelling pronunciation??; Tihama-like dialect influence??) The reason why I liked Jadhima's solution is that it can derived the QCT case system (and a quirk of its orthography) from the Nabatean case system. If we take the En Avdat Arabic def. nom -w as a "real" -u, that must mean En Avdat Arabic had one of the following two case systems: 1. Tihama Yemeni-like with loss of nunation and subsequent lengthening: Definite: *-a, *-i, *-u Indefinite: *-ā, *-ī, *-ū. 2. Loss of nunation without lengthening, definite/indefinite become identical: Def/Indef *-a, *-i, *-u A final possibility is situation 1. which afterwards loses final short vowels, and spreads the indefinite system to the now unmarked definite nouns. This would be indistinguishable from system 2. In the case of system 1. We would expect an orthographical representation: Definite/indefinite -ʔ, -y, -w (which can plausibly be deduced from the En Avdat inscription). If then, short vowels are lost, we would end up with a system: Definite -Ø; Indefinite: -ʔ, -y, -w. It is difficult to argue that final -ū, and -ī were lost, as this would obviously yield eronneous predictions about, e.g. katabū as that would yield **katab for the 3pl.m. But we would have to argue that these vowels were somehow lost, to explain why the QCT orthography only writes the indefintie accusative -ʔ, but not the indefinite nominative and genitive. There is room for special pleading, e.g. The indefinite case vowels were nasalized, and *-ã, *-ĩ, *ũ; Then, first word-final non-nasalized vowels were lost; and subsequently the word-final nasalized high vowels were lost. System 2 would fail to explain why the definite accusative isn't also marked with *-ʔ, moreover it would fail to explain why Diptotes do not have wawation. Jadhima's approach starts with the Classical Arabic system: *-a, *-i *-u, *-an, *-in, *un; 1. Gets rid of final short vowels Definite/diptotes -Ø; indefinite *-an, *-in, *-un; 2. Gets rid of nunation Definite/diptotes -Ø; indefinite *-a, *-i, *-u Orthographically: -ʔ, *-y, -w. 3. *-i and *-u perhaps merged to /ə/ yielding JSNab 17-like Arabic: Definite/diptotes -Ø; indefinite *-a, *-ə Orthographically: -ʔ, -w; 4. Word-final *-ə is lost: The now purely orthographic -w is spread to every non-construct noun, but not to indefintie accusative since it is properly pronounced with -a, and written with -ʔ. Alif al-Wiqāyah gets introduced to distinguish genuine word-final /aw, ū/, from silent /w/. 5. wawation is removed in the orthography, yielding the QCT system. Forms like ʕbdʔlhy (and ʕbdʔlhyw) would then be names from a different dialect that has not yet lost final short-vowels. This is perhaps confirmed by the fact that ʕbdʔlh also simply exists.
For 'he', I'm sure there are spellings with the final aleph, look at JSNab 18 in the same article: w dkyr ʿdmn hwʾ ktb ktbʾ dʾ bṭb w šlm And may ʕdmn who wrote this text be remembered for good and may he be secure. Cantineau also lists the form in his grammar besides hw, while he only lists the feminine form hy.
In my recent blogpost on the alif al-wiqāyah I argued that <wʔ> denotes final vowels /ū/ and /ō/ (or /aw/) in the orthography of the QCT. While final <w> denoted actual consonantal /w/. While it is fairly clear that this is the rule that is operating in the QCT orthography,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2016 at Phoenix's blog
Hey there, thanks for your interesting comments! The solution that you suggest has the enormously useful value that it explains why the وا was introduced. It's just such a shame that we don't have any evidence for such a stage (but that might just be an accident of history). I also think the use of silent و was preceded by a phase in the spoken language that must have had long final vowels as case endings at least in pause, and these were represented in writing such as in theophoric names like عبدلهى etc. When final /u/ and /i/ were deleted that phonological distinction was obliterated so و was generalized to the genitive. I don't think it's necessary to assume that the final vowels were long (in pause). Aramaic did not have final short vowels at all, and when the Aramaic spelling conventions were adapted to write Arabic, Arabic final -i may have just been felt to be closer to Aramaic -ī than writing nothing at all. This also helps explain why final -u and -i were eventually lost on the nouns, but not on, say the verb. If those endings were really pronounced -ū and -ī we would expect them to have been retained like other cases. So perhaps, the original وا vs. و distinction was to mark the difference between long ū and short u, a distinction Nabatean Aramaic never had any use for. So then we are left with four phases: 1. Classical Arabic-like: Triptotes: def. -u, -i, -a; indef. -un, -in, -an Ditptotes: def. -u, -i, -a; indef. -u, -a 2. Loss of final short vowels: Triptotes: def. no ending; indef. -un, -in, -an Diptotes: no endings. 3. Loss of nunation: Triptotes: def. no ending; indef. -u, -i, -a Diptotes: no endings. 4. Loss of final -u/-i: Triptotes: def. no ending; def. -0, -0, -a When the Nabatean script was adapted for Arabic writing, the main dialects must have been in stage 3, and therefore they chose to write the final indefinite case vowels as ـو، ـي، ـا. When they transitioned into stage 4, the vast amount of words that were written with final ـو now had a "silent waw", and to distinguish that from a real waw they introduced وا. Spellings like تيمالهي would then reflect either an archaic pronunciation of a name from a time that Arabic was still in phase 2, or alternatively, a dialects that was still in phase 2. (And spellings like عبداله which are also found in Nabatean would then be pronunciations of phase 3). Phase 2 dialects must have certainly existed for some time, as the En Avdat inscription is certainly a reflection of such a dialect. The En Avdat dialect presumably had: def. -u, -i, -a; indef. -ū, -ī, -ā (loss of nunation with lengthening?). Very good insights! Will you publish on this/have you published on this? If not: What name should I put in the acknowledgements when I undoubtedly write a paper on this at some point?
Toggle Commented Aug 17, 2016 on The Alif al-Wiqāyah in the QCT at Phoenix's blog
Recently Prof. Petra Sijpesteijn uploaded an interesting article about a 7th/8th-century papyrus that contains a fragment of a Hadith attributed to Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second caliph. While the cultural and historical relevance is much better commented upon by Prof. Sijpesteijn, I'd like to comment on a linguistic quirk of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2016 at Phoenix's blog
Al-Hamdani, the 10th century polymath, speaks in his Jazīra of a group of people known as the Himyar, who lived in Yemen and spoke a language different from the Arabic he was familiar with. He makes several observations about this dialect, e.g. that they say yā bnu m-ʕamm 'o son... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2016 at Phoenix's blog
I think it could be "immediate" exactly because of the phonemic variance, yes. But it's basically impossible to tell. Even in dialects that have ō < *ay today, the vowel is still often somewhere in between aw~ow~ō.
Toggle Commented Aug 3, 2016 on The Alif al-Wiqāyah in the QCT at Phoenix's blog
Hey Casey, You can click the links that are in the blogpost, those will take you to the right Surah's with the translations. As for the pre-islamic peoms, those can be found in the link to the 'Safaito-Hismaic Baal Cycle Poem'.
The Alif al-Wiqāyah or 'Alif of protection' is an orthographical device in Classical Arabic where a <ʔ> is placed after a <w> in 3pl.m. verbs, e.g. ḏahabū ذهبوا <ḏhbwʔ> 'they went', yaḏhabū يذهبوا <yḏhbwʔ> 'they go (subjunctive/apocopate)'. It may also be used for final-weak verbs that end in aw, e.g.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2016 at Phoenix's blog
First of all: Fantastic news! Last week Wednesday I got word that I got the VENI research grant to research Arabic of the Early Islamic period. I'm incredibly happy that I was lucky enough to get this grants, and cannot wait to start my research. Tangentially related to my research... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2016 at Phoenix's blog
I wasn't quite aware that Old Dutch was already devoicing its final consonants. But I'm not surprised :-)
Hi! I wonder, do all dialects of Dutch pretty much realize -d and -t in non-suffixed environments as voiceless [t]? I mean even down there in Aruba and Suriname. Yes, word-final devoicing (and thus the merger of d/t in this position) has been part of Dutch since the Middle ages, so all dialects and even Afrikaans has it. Thanks for the nice Korean example :-)