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Phonetic Spellings of the Subordinating Particle d(y) in the Jewish Babylonian Aramaic Magic Bowls

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image of Aramaic Studies

The Jewish Babylonian Aramaic magic bowls date to the late Sasanian and very early Islamic periods. They are for the most part written in an archaic literary dialect (or dialects) that appears to have significantly differed from the spoken language of Babylonian Jews at that time. Occasional non-standard phonetic spellings, however, cast light on the spoken language of the practitioners who wrote the bowls. This article deals with phonetic spellings of the subordinating (or relative) particle (י)ד as either ת or ט. It is difficult to discern a uniform phonetic condition for all occurrences of ת, but the examples suffice to prove that it is a genuine form. In the presently available documentation the form ט occurs solely before words beginning with ʾaleph (< historical ʾ or ʿ). The latter form also occurs in Classical Mandaic as ṭ. These spellings suggest that the realizations of the subordinating particle as t and ṱ later attested in many Neo-Aramaic dialects go back at least as far as late Sasanian times.

Affiliations: 1: Bar-Ilan University


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