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Some lexiographical problems of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic 1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2009


Previous dictionaries of Jewish Aramaic (JA) have pursued practical rather than strictly linguistic aims and tried to include lexical material from the whole of Rabbinic literature written in East and West Aramaic as well as in post-Biblical Hebrew. Given that (1) Rabbinic literature is thoroughly infused with Hebrew passages and words commonly used in JA, (2) that the Jewish literary ‘diglossia’ in (East and West) Aramaic may even have developed into ‘pentaglossia’ (i.e. two spoken and literary Aramaic dialects and Hebrew), (3) and that Jewish copyists were more used to the language of the Talmudic Babylonian Aramaic (TBA) and altered many original Palestinian forms accordingly—to mention just three main reasons—it is obvious that earlier lexicographers of JA were entangled in a complex of problems which they were forced to solve practically rather than linguistically. Their works will stand as the great achievements of JA lexicography before the later classifications of JA dialectology took effect.

The Altmeister of Aramaic studies, Th. Nöldeke, who is quoted by Michael Sokoloff, author of this first dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic (JPA), said more than a century ago:

One could doubt the propriety of a dictionary of the entire old Rabbinic literature. Namely, it is anathema for linguists to find Hebrew and Aramaic together in one lexicon. But on the other hand, this entire literature, as diverse as it is, stands together.

Copyright © School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 1992

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2 See Rosenthal, F., Die aramaistische Forschung seit Theodor Nöldekes Veröffentlichungen (= AF), pp. 115–21..Google Scholar

3 cf. Goshen-Gottstein, M. H., ‘The language of Targum Onquelos and the model of literary diglossia in Aramaic’, JNES, 37, 1978:Google Scholar ‘I can only say from bitter experience as a lexicographer that it is often impossible to decide whether a certain word is Hebrew or Aramaic’ (p. 175, n. 38).

4 These terms were coined by Goshen-Gottstein (see preceding n.), p. 175 with n. 29.

5 A circumstance repeatedly deplored by Kutscher, E. Y., Studies in Galilean Aramaic. Translated from the Hebrew original with additional notes from the author's handcopy by Michael Sokoloff (Jerusalem, 1976). (= SGA).Google Scholar

6 See Rosenthal, F., AF, 117ff.Google Scholar

7 Literarisches Centralblatt für Deutschland, 1875, 875, cited in translation in Sokoloff's, Preface.Google Scholar

8 See n. 5.

9 Dalman, G., Grammalik des jüdisch-palästinischen Aramäisch (1889, 2nd ed. 1905 (photomechanical reprint 1960)). (= GJPA).Google Scholar

10 Dalman, G., Aramäisch-Neuhebräisches Handwörterbuch, I–II (1887–1901; revised 2nd ed. In one volume, 1922).Google Scholar

11 For details see F. Rosenthal, AF, 117. It is noteworthy that neither J. Levy's nor G. Dalman's lexicographical works is mentioned in M. Sokoloff's dictionary, under review, pp. 10, 13.

12 See Macuch, R., Recent studies in Palestinian Aramaic, BSOAS (1987), L, 437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

13 Seen. 5.

14 Sokoloff, M., DJPA, p. 23, n. 16..Google Scholar

15 Sokoloff, M., JNES, 37, 1978, p. 163 with n. 13..Google Scholar

16 ibid., p. 164.

17 ibid., p. 161 with n. 4.

18 DJPA, p. 3, n. 1.

19 cf. AJSL, 50, 1933/4, 106.

20 Levias, C., A grammar of Galilean Aramaic (New York, 1986). [Hebrew].Google Scholar

21 Schulthess, F., Lexicon Syropalaestinum (Berlin, 1903; repr. Amsterdam, 1980). (= LSP).Google Scholar

22 Schulthess, F., Grammatik des Christlich-Palästinischen Aramäisch, hrsg. von Enno Littmann mil Nachträgen von Theodor Nöldeke mil dem Herausgeber (Tübingen, 1924; repr. Hildesheim, 1965).Google Scholar

23 Nöldeke, Th., ‘Über den christlich-palästinischen DialektZDMG, 22, 1868, 443–527, 483, 495.Google Scholar

24 Nöldeke's, sketch was not based on the original MS but on a mediocre publication of Miniscalchi Erizzo, Evangeliarum Hierosolymitanum ex codice Vaticano Palaestino, I-II (Verona, 18611864)Google Scholar, which was only replaced thirty years later by the better edition of Lagarde, P. de, Evangelium Hierosolymitanum (Bibliothecae Syriacae, Göttingen, 1892), 257402.Google Scholar

25 A first attempt to reconsider critically the orthographic and phonetic problems of CPA with some useful morphological suggestions was presented by Mosheh Bar-Asher in his Hebrew dissertation, ‘Palestinian Syriac studies, source-texts, traditions and grammatical problems’ (Hebr. Univ. Jerusalem, 1977). Although he had some photographic material at his disposal, he still relied for the most part on previous editions so that his work is to be used with caution. Another dissertation on the orthography, phonetics and morphology of CPA, prepared by Christa, Kessler, Grammatik des Christlich-Palästinischen Aramäisch, Teil I: Schriftlehre, Lautlehre, Morphologie (Freie Universität Berlin, 1989)Google Scholar, for which all manuscripts available in European libraries, even the palimpsests, were scrutinized, was published by Olms (Hildesheim, 1991).

26 Kessler, Ch. plans to compile a new dictionary of CPA, but its preparation will certainly take many years. For comparative purposes in DJPA she forwarded a list of words from texts edited after the publication of Schulthess, LSP, see DJPA, p. 6, n. 33..Google Scholar

27 See my historical survey in Macuch, R., Grammatik des samaritanischen Aramäisch (1982) (= GSA), pp. xl–1; cf.Google Scholaridem, Der gegenwärtige Stand der Samaritanerforschung und ihre Aufgaben, ZDMG 138, 1988, pp. *17*–*25*, and ‘The importance of Samaritan tradition for the hermeneutics of the Pentateuch’, Proceedings of the first International Congress of the S.E.S., Tel-Aviv, April 11–13, 1988 (Tel-Aviv University, 1991), 1331.Google Scholar

28 See GSA and ZDMG, loc. cit. Add Ben-Hayyim's, last publication: Tībåt Mårqe: A collection of Samaritan Midrashim, Edited, translated and annotated by Z. Ben-Hayyim (Jerusalem: Publications of the Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Section of Humanities, 1988). [Hebrew].Google Scholar

29 Tal, A., The Samaritan Targum of the Pentateuch, I: Genesis, Exodus (Tel-Aviv, 1980); II: Leviticus, Numeri, Deuteronomium (1981); III: Introduction (1983).Google Scholar

30 In my GSA, § 14e α–ε, pp. 61–65,1 have shown that this traditional pronunciation may still be instructive even for the earlier stages of PA at the beginning of our era. The exciting problem of ‘Jesus's mother-tongue’, about which several scholars (among them also Dalman) speculated on the basis of a few PA words in Greek μεταγαøαí in the NT cannot be approached at all properly without the knowledge of this sole preserved traditional pronunciation of PA. The correspondences between both are striking.

31 Macuch, R., GSA, lxxxif.Google Scholar

32 ibid., p. lxxii.

33 A. Tal, op. cit., III 1.

34 Ben-Ḥayyim, , The literary and oral tradition of Hebrew and Aramaic amongst the Samaritans (= LOT), II, 437616; cf. Macuch, GSA, lxif.Google Scholar

35 cf. Kutscher, E. Y., SGA, 70ff., passim, and the orthographic and phonetic parts of Ch. Kessler's Grammar of CPA (n. 25).Google Scholar

36 Tal, A., ‘The Samaritan targum, its distinctive characteristics and its metamorphosis’, JSS, 21, 1976, 2638.Google Scholar

37 I transcribe words vocalized in DJPA fully, non-vocalized in their consonantal skeleton, verbal roots in capital letters. In dictionaries with original script the latter should be printed with larger or bolder type to make their survey easier and clearer.

38 θ is used to mark the undesignated first homonym.

39 op. cit., o. 72a f., cf. Levy, op. cit., I, 89a ff.

40 A Compendious Syriac Dictionary (published in the same year as Jastrow's Dictionary), p. 18a. Since all homograms are clearly distinguished by their fully-indicated vocalization, it would have been superfluous to number them.

41 Griechische und lateinische Lehnwörter im Talmud, Midrasch und Targum, 155.

42 LS, 75a.

43 In this and the following random examples the missing asterisk has been supplied.

44 Macuch, R., ‘Samaritan languages: Samaritan Hebre, Samaritan Aramaic’, in: A. D., Crown (ed.), The Samaritans (1989), 452.Google Scholar

45 I use a hyphen to separate the proclitic b- from the following main word or further particle and I omit the second synonymous meaning given in DJPA.

46 My italics.

47 op. cit., 213b–16a.

48 M. Jastrow, op. cit., 185b, compressed them into one entry.

49 J. Levy, op. cit., 1, 224a–28a; Jastrow, 168, was satisfied with an extract o f ‘chief compounds’.

50 J. Levy, op. cit., I, 259b.

51 R. Macuch, GSA, 105:29f.

52 ibid., 323:12.

53 Especially in inscriptions published by Naveh, J., On stone and mosaic, quoted in DJPA s.v. bn, I05b;Google Scholar cf. also Kosovsky, M., Concordance to the Talmud Yerushalmi, II, 394f.Google Scholar

Since they are not properly numbered, and the only (wrong) no. 2# (although repeated) hardly helps, reference is given here by the column in which they appear.

55 cf. Nöldeke, Th., Syrische Grammatik, §§ 231, 232B, pp. 173f.; Syr. mān ‘what’ is almost identical with man ‘who’, Brockelmann, C., LS, 393b, Epstein, J. N., A grammar of Babylonian Aramaic (Hebr.), 28f.; Nöldeke, Mandäische Grammatik, § 238, Macuch Handbook of Classical and Modern Mandaic, § 265aGoogle Scholar, idem, GSA, § 42, p. 137.

56 See Macuch, , Grammatik des samaritanischen Hebräisch, § 59a.Google Scholar

57 Brockelmann, GVG, I, § 110, pp. 326f.

58 Both SA examples are quoted from Ben-Hayyim, LOT, III/2: (1) p. 42:15 mn d'mr (read: man dāmar), on which B.-H. remarks: ‘The Samaritans interpret: mī še'āmar “the one who said”,’ which is certainly an earlier conception, but he translates it: mišše'āmar and correctly argues for this translation. (2) p. 211:48 mn 'bd 'wbdwy (read: man 'aēbẹd ūbādo) he translates: bihyôtô 'ôśe(h) ūbādo ‘while he is doing his works’, although a more literal translation ‘the one (who is) doing his works’ would also be possible. These two examples show that the temporal and circumstantial conjunctional meaning of this pronoun in SA was not yet as fully developed as in JPA. This may be because of the much lesser extent of midrashic literature among the Samaritans by comparison with the Jews.

59 Macuch, , GSA, § 60b, pp. 179f. (for I y) and § 61b, p. 185 (sb for nsb!)Google Scholar, cf. idem, ‘A new interpretation of the Samaritan inscription from Tell Qasile’, IEJ, 35, 1985, 183–85.

60 Sokoloff, M. and Yahalom, J., Aramaic poems from Eretz Israel of the Byzantine period (forthcoming) (= SYAP).Google Scholar

61 Kaufman, , Akkadian influences, 45 (quoted in the DJPA).Google Scholar

62 Macuch, , Neumandäische Chrestomathie (1989), Glossary, p. 205, s.v.Google Scholar

63 GSA, p. lviii, n. 62.

64 The abs. and the cs. st. fem. pi. were occasionally confused in PA, see examples from SA in my GSA, 285:11–16. Although in the present case SA has preserved the correct ending-āt, the confusion need not be excluded in JPA.

65 cf. Levy, , I, 201 s.v. bôṣîn('): ‘ein Babylonier sagte zu einer palästinischen Frau: “yyty ly try bûṣînê bringe mir zwei Buzine; er meinle ‘Gurken’, sie aber brachte ihm Lichter”. Im paläst. Dialekte näml. war die letztere Bedeut. unseres Ws. nicht bekannt.’.Google Scholar

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