• Garshuni As It Is: Some Observations from Reading East and West Syriac Manuscripts

    Adam Bremer-McCollum (see profile)
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    Syriac script has been used to write several languages other than Syriac, the most well known of which is Arabic, a phenomenon known generally and simply as Garshuni. While both Syriac and Arabic belong to the Semitic family of languages and thus share some phonological similarities, there are also differences. In addition, we are dealing with well-established written traditions on both sides, Syriac and Arabic, but we are also dealing with, on the Arabic side, a reading tradition influenced more or less by the reader’s own Arabic dialect, and thus a reading tradition that does not necessarily have Classical Arabic as its absolute model. Syriac script has a smaller inventory of letters than Arabic script, and while scribes often used diacritical marks to fill out this deficiency, that practice was hardly universal. In an ideal situation, there might be exact correspondences between this Syriac letter (or letter plus diacritic) and that Arabic letter, and such an ideal appears in published charts to describe Garshuni, but manuscripts vary widely from this tidy ideal, and it is the purpose of this paper to highlight that variety with examples from several manuscripts.
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    2 years ago
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