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Phonology And Orthography

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Chapter Summary

This chapter outlines the changes in orthography and phonology within the different periods of Judaeo-Arabic epistolary writing. When dealing with a corpus of written material the study of phonology meets a fundamental difficulty: orthographical conventions often disguise phonological change. The chapter first gives a comprehensive insight into the deviations from standard Arabic occurring in the letters and evaluate the distribution of more common phonological and orthographical epistolary phenomena. It then compares the findings in the various mediaeval and Late Judaeo-Arabic corpora with one another. Where appropriate, the epistolary forms are compared to corresponding dialectal forms to show how mediaeval vernacular forms penetrated the written substandard Judaeo-Arabic variety in the letters, and to other Arabic substandard varieties. The examination in the chapter focuses on the letters from the 11th century onwards.

Keywords: Judaeo-Arabic epistolary writing; orthographic changes; phonological changes



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