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Modern South Arabian ikōtəb is not necessarily iparras or yənaggər *

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Modern South Arabian (MSA) imperfect ikōtəb is superficially analogous to Akkadian imperfect iparras and Ethiopic imperfect yənaggər, as opposed to all the other Semitic languages’ imperfects, where the first and second radical consonants are adjacent, e.g. Arabic yaqtulu. On the basis of this partial resemblance, a proto-Semitic imperfect *yaqattal was carelessly invented without seriously exploring other explanations. It flourished so well that scholars yielded to the temptation of seeing it in all the branches of Semitic. As far as MSA is concerned, David Cohen developed several times the hypothesis of a phonetic derivation (*yvktubu > ikōtəb), that also accounts for most of the other peculiarities of the MSA verb. The present paper, after presenting some aspects of this historical situation, aims at supporting Cohen’s hypothesis, at tackling Gideon Goldenberg’s objections to it, and at adding new arguments against an MSA *yaqattal.

Affiliations: 1: CNRS ENS


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