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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: September 2012

V - Grammar


The modesty of this chapter may be surprising, but the progress in Meroitic studies has been more successful in secondary domains such as the typology of texts and the origin of signs than in the knowledge of its grammatical system and vocabulary. It is not possible to present an overview of a Meroitic grammar. The few certainties limit themselves to some rules in the construction of the nominal clause, and all the rest, in particular the verbal system, is often contradictory hypotheses.

Most of the corpus, that is, the epitaphs, of which the best understood parts are essentially titles, names of deities, and place-names, allows some advancement in understanding the noun phrase. But the funerary texts are relatively poor in verbal constructions, and the examples are hardly improved by the official and royal descriptions. There is no “current state” of research on verbal morphology. But comparative studies of grammar conducted within the North Eastern Sudanic Group, to which Meroitic belongs, might in the future shed some light on this difficult matter.

General Structure

Segmentation of the Elements: What Is Separated by the Separator?

The first problems presented to linguists in the Meroitic texts are the segmentation of morphemes and the separation between syntactic units and the propositions. Since Meroitic counts only sixty graphic syllables, some will occur more frequently than others and may be considered morphemes.

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