Shisha-Halevy, A., 2003. Celtic Syntax, Egyptian-Coptic Syntax. In Das Alte Ägypten und seine Nachbarn: Festschrift Helmut Satzinger. Krems. Krems: Österreichisches Literaturforum, pp. 245–302.Abstract

H. J. Polotsky’s “Syntaxe amharique et syntaxe turque” (1960a), the Master’s only article in a properly speaking General Linguistics (typological-comparative) genre, the paper opening Polotsky’s Collected Papers (Jerusalem: the Magnes Press, 1971), has drawn little attention outside the small circle of the Jerusalem School and its adherents, perhaps because of an hermetic quality of style, as well as the exclusive Ethiopistic forum of publication. And yet, it is a wonderful fruit of Polotsky’s annus mirabilis, an insightful and sensitive exposé of an instance of the non-geographical, cross-genealogical Sprachbund and what may be called the historical-connection-indifferent typological rapprochement As is generally realized today, the Sprachbund phenomenon is varied and complex, reflecting the variety of languages-in-contact scenarios and their historical configuration. The relatively rare non-adjacent or non-geographical Sprachbund is less well understood and falls between the stools of typological and genetic comparison, and goes, to mix metaphors, against the grain of conventional comparativist temperament.

The “Eurafrican” (so Wagner in Transactions of the Philological Society 1969) hypothesis, first outlined in modern times at least as early as 1990 by John Morris-Jones, has been for most of the last century associated almost exclusively with the names of Julius Pokorny and his disciple, Heinrich Wagner. I believe it now deserves detailed objective re-appreciation, in view of the considerable expansion in our knowledge of Celtic and the advance in the unveiling of the languages commonly known as Afro-Asiatic or Hamito-Semitic, and especially of Egyptian and Coptic. Although it is generally not clear which languages are invoked on the Afro-Asiatic side — “Semitic” (which languages?) “Egyptian” (which phase or phases in its near four millennia of evolution?), Arabic, North-West Semitic, Accadian, Berber — a vagueness contributive to the scepticism with which the theory is still regarded (not that there is a generally accepted idea about hierarchies and chronologies inside the Celtic branch of Indo-European); nor is there any real confidence about either the chronological parameters, or the hierarchical structuring of syntactical and non-syntactical comparata of the comparison.

Shisha-Halevy, A., 2003. Future, Present, Narrative Past: a Triple Note on Oxyrhynchite Tempuslehre. In Sprache und Geist. Peter Nagel zum 65. Geburtstag. Herausgegeben von Walter Beltz, Ute Pietruschka und Jürgen Tubach. Halle (Saale), pp. 249–309.
Shisha-Halevy, A., 2002. A Definitive Sahidic Coptic Grammar (review article of B. Layton's Coptic Grammar). Orientalia , 71 , pp. 424–459.Abstract

This is beyond doubt the finest Coptic grammar ever written, a splendid achievement, masterfully carrying out the formidable task of making the leap from Stern’s pre-scientific (if insightful) Koptische Grammatik of 1880, to bridge a century of Coptic and Egyptian linguistic study. By painstaking and elegant grammatical charting, the Sahidic dialect of Coptic now has a definitive, authoritative description, which I daresay will be superseded only if the corpus changes considerably. The work consolidates the findings of almost a century of research work on Coptic grammar, adding numerous new insights in statements that result from a correct and penetrating analysis of complicated data. It opens much new ground, while providing a clear, even-handed and lucid account of established comprehension, and puts much in a fresh perspective, often contradicting orthodoxy and deepening or clarifying the insights offered in many a study.

Shisha-Halevy, A. & et al. Bethge, H.-G., 2002. The Focalizing Conversion: Structural Prelimiaries to a Chapter in the Grammar of Oxyrhynchite Coptic. In For the Children, Perfect Instruction: Studies in Honor of Hans-Martin Schenke. Leiden / Boston. Leiden / Boston: Brill, pp. 309–340.
Shisha-Halevy, A., 2002. “An Emerging New Dialect of Coptic” (review article of Gardner, Alcock and Funk, Coptic Documentary Texts from Kellis). Orientalia , 71 , pp. 298–308.Abstract

The work under review presents in full, with a translation and extensive erudite philological, textual and grammatical annotations, detailed indices and long descriptive, historical and linguistics introductions, the elegant editio princeps of forty-four Coptic texts (fifty-four epistolary and documentary texts in all, of which fifty-two are papyri) from the site of Ismant el-Kharab (the Dakhle oasis, at the Roman-period village of Kellis). All were written to members or associates of a textile-processing Manichaean or Christian-Manichaean community at the place, and are datable to the fourth century A.D. (mainly 355–380). These texts are written in a special dialect of Coptic, which — as W.-P. Funk believes — may be the closest yet to “L” pure and simple — a dialect exhibiting some interesting features, on some of which I shall very briefly dwell in the following review (which focusses only on the linguistic, not historical or archaeological aspects of this exciting find). They are not easy, but are remarkable rich in interesting grammatical features and of considerable syntactic interest.

Shisha-Halevy, A., 2000. Stability in Clausal/Phrasal Pattern Constituent Sequencing: 4000 Years of Egyptian (With Some Theoretical Reflections, also on Celtic). In E. Poppe, A. Shisha-Halevy, & R. Sornicola, ed. Word Order - Stability and Change over Time. Amsterdam / Philadelphia. Amsterdam / Philadelphia: J. Benjamins, pp. 71–100.Abstract

The linguistic study of Egyptian, fully deciphered only about 150 years ago, is a young discipline: modern Egyptian linguistics, dating more or less from the work of Hans-Jakob Polotsky, is much younger still: no more than about half a century old. Coptic, the final stage of Egyptian, dead as a spoken language at some point after the XIIIth century AD, had been scientifically known in the West from around the XVIIth century. It is a curious and somehow sobering thought that Champollion le Jeune probably got the brainwave and forward push to the final decipherment of the hieroglyphic script by a wholly and deeply erroneous idea about diachronic word order correspondence. He believed (or took for granted) that Coptic f-sôtm “he is hearing” (roughly, “he + hear”) was the inversion of a ‘pan-Egyptian’ sdm.f (“hear-he”), which, he thought, had the same tense form, but which - we now know - is in fact a cluster of homographs, drastically differing, formally and functionally, in tense form and syntactical status from one phase of Egyptian to another and within one and the same phase. The idea was wholly misguided, yet the confidence it gave him, and his conviction that Coptic and Egyptian were two phases of the same language were not unjustified, and led him to eventual success. Today we have a reasonably good synchronic resolution - and, paradoxically, a sometimes seemingly sharper diachronic resolution - of nearly four millennia of uninterrupted evolution of a language (or rather an ensemble of dialects and language varieties), made visible to us in the written documentation of five or six distinct broad linguistic systems (in the sense of la langue as well as norme and usage). Roughly, with some arbitrariness and considerable overlapping, Old Egyptian (“OE”, 2800-2200 BC), Middle Egyptian (“ME”, 2200-1500 BC), Late Egyptian (or Neo-Egyptian) (“LE”, 1500-700 BC); Demotic, from the VIIth-VIIIth century BC to the Vth century AD, and finally Coptic, ‘Christian Egyptian’, written in customized graphemic systems based on the Greek graphemes and several Egyptian ones, from the IVth century AD on, until its death as a spoken language: Arabic entered Egypt in the VIIth century AD, but Coptic probably lingered on until the XVIIth century. (Incidentally, Coptic is formally differentiated as ‘Egypto-Coptic’ in the current International Linguistic Bibliography. Roughly since the Fifties, Coptic Studies have moved away from Egyptology, a separation unfortunate for both Egyptology and Coptic studies, which has all but wiped out Coptic linguistics as a discipline). Most phases, as we conveniently and simplistically delimit them (ignoring here the relationships, complicated in Egyptian, between language phase and script phase, as well as the religious-political implications of traditional archaizing use of earlier phases) have considerable overlapping or ‘mutual leaking’ with preceding ones, as well as transitory stages, and of course numerous diasystems of registers and other linguistic varieties which become clearer as detailed description progresses. Some phases extend up to a thousand years, which makes the need for a finer sub-periodization obvious (Junge 1985). Generally speaking, we witness the uninterrupted evolution of a language on one and the same terrain, in its first attestation cradled in a Neolithic culture, before the end of its life-span a para-classical language, part of a pious and totally Christian civilization: very little secular literature is attested in Coptic.

Shisha-Halevy, A., 1999. Bohairic Narrative Grammar. In S. Emmel, ed. Ägypten und Nubien in spätantiker und christlicher Zeit, II: Schrifttum, Sprache und Gedankenwelt, Acts of the 6th International Congress of Coptic Studies. Wiesbaden. Wiesbaden: Reichert, pp. 375–389.
Shisha-Halevy, A., 1999. Coptic Linguistics 1992-1996. In Acts of the 6th International Congress of Coptic Studies (Münster, 1996). Münster. Münster.
Shisha-Halevy, A., 1995. Some Reflections on the Egyptian Conjunctive. In Divitiae Aegyptii (Krause Festschrift). Wiesbaden. Wiesbaden: Reichert, pp. 300–314.Abstract

The conjunctive is still the most mystifying clause-form in Egyptian, from LE through Demotic to Coptic. For several reasons, including its shadowy origins and puzzling morphology, but especially because of its elusive semantics and syntactic properties, and indeed, its syntactic essentials, it is still not clearly understood and probably often misinterpreted. […]

Shisha-Halevy, A., 1994. Pluridimensional Oppositions: Case Studies from Scripture Bohairic. In Coptology: Past, Present and Future. Leuven. Leuven: Peeters, pp. 225–247.Abstract

While the usual paradigmatic (binary or “polyvalent”) conception of grammatical opposition as envisaged by the Geneva, Prague and Copenhagen structural schools is unidimensional, representing the tension between two poles, more complex oppositions are often observable. These are “disjointable” i.e. decomposable and resolvable into two or more “simple” paradigms, yet, in actual linguistic reality, constitute multifaceted categories. […]

Shisha-Halevy, A., 1992. The Shenutean Idiom. In The Coptic Encyclopaedia. pp. 202–204.Abstract

“Shenutean Coptic” is the term applied to the idiom, including the grammatical norm and stylistic-phraseological usage, observable in the corpus of writing by the archimandrite Apa Shenute (334–451), outstanding among Coptic literary sources in that it constitutes the single most extensive homogenous and authentic testo di lingua for Sahidic and Coptic in general. […]

Shisha-Halevy, A., 1992. Bohairic. In The Coptic Encyclopaedia. pp. 54–60.Abstract

A major dialect of Coptic, called “Memphitic”, ‘the northern dialect”, or “dialect of Lower Egypt” in earlier terminology, or simply “Coptic” in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century treatises, Bohairic being the first Coptic dialect with which Western scholarship became aquainted. “Bohairic” (B) was first used by Stern (1880, p. xii).

Shisha-Halevy, A., 1992. Sahidic. In The Coptic Encyclopaedia. pp. 194–202.Abstract

Sahidic (siglum S) is a major Coptic dialect, earlier known as Upper Egyptian, Theban, or the southern dialect; the term “Sahidic”, used by Athanasius of Qūṣ, was adopted by Stern (1880). In twentieth-century Coptology, S has been the main dialect of study and research—indeed Coptic par excellencem today totally supplanting Bohairic in this respect (compare, for instance, its precedence in Crum, 1939, to that of Bohairic in Stern, 1880). […]

Shisha-Halevy, A., 1990. The ‘Tautological Infinitive’ in Coptic: a structural examination. Journal of Coptic Studies , 1 , pp. 99–127.Abstract

In the following pages, I wish to scan a neglected, if familiar, construction of Coptic for some of its most striking formal and functional, paradigmatic and syntagmatic aspects of significance nd implications. I refer to the construction sometimes called the “tautological”, “absolute”, or paronomastic infinitive, in which an infinitive is followed by a homolexemic (or otherwise related) finite verbal form, the two constituting together a single clause pattern: […]

Shisha-Halevy, A., 1989. The Proper Name: Structural Prolegomena to its Syntax — a Case Study in Coptic, Wien: Verband der Wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaften Österreichs (VWGÖ).Abstract

The present investigation, which is to be view as a seminal or pilot study of proper-name grammar in Coptic rather than a definitive “Grammar of Proper Names”, attempts to observe the PN environmentally (in both syntagmatic and paradigmatic dimensions of grammatical environment, examining commutabilities and compatibilities), its syntactic incorporation, especially its signalling — the formal means for its distinction from other nominal and pronominals; its structural role, identity and role relationships. […]

Shisha-Halevy, A., 1988. Coptic Grammatical Chrestomathy: a Course for Academic and Private Study, Leuven: Peeters.Abstract

(I). Aims and conception. The following reasoned collection of text is intended to serve as a means for acquiring acquaintance with the elements of Sahidic Coptic grammar, giving the student the competence and confidence which should enable him to deal subsequently with any Coptic text as far as grammatical analysis and translation is concerned; it is meant for students approaching the language for its general linguistic, Egyptological, theological or literary interests. This is neither a grammar, nor a textbook, not yet an “Introduction to Coptic”, but a custom-built annotated anthology meant as a one-year (approx. 40 weeks, 4 to 6 weekly hours) course of initiation into the analysis of Coptic texts, expressly meant as a substitute to so-called “grammars”. […]

Shisha-Halevy, A., 1987. Grammatical Discovery Procedure and the Egyptian-Coptic Nominal Sentence. Orientalia , 56 , pp. 147–175.Abstract

The book before us [Callender’s Studies in the Nominal Sentence in Egyptian and Coptic] is not a reworking of the author’s 1970 University of Chicago dissertation — and this is a disappointment, for here one misses much important information on the Nominal Sentence (NS) which was provided in the dissertation, such as predicate constituency (Chap. I), predicate determination (II) and apposition (V). Yet the present monograph merits more attention than might seem called for at first glance; more, indeed, than is warranted by its contribution to our understanding of the grammatical phenomena discussed. For this is the first time that a method-conscious linguist treats this issue comprehensively, in a way representative of a major methodological trend of present-day Egyptology: the generative-transformational method.

Shisha-Halevy, A., 1986. Coptic Grammatical Categories: Structural Studies in the Syntax of Shenoutean Coptic, Rome: The Pontifical Institute.Abstract

This book is not a Coptic grammar, nor is it cast in the semblance of one: it is a series of studies of a fairly central area of Coptic syntax, a detailed systematic charting of a subsystem or more or less continuous range of grammatical phenomena.

Shisha-Halevy, A., 1985. What’s in a Name? On Coptic {ⲡⲁ-} ‘{he} of-’. Enchoria , 13 , pp. 97–102.Abstract

In a terminological note with the title, “The Possessive Relation Marker in Coptic” (Enchoria 12:191–193, 1984), P. Swiggers criticizes and corrects the conventional designation “possessive article” or “possessive prefix” for ⲡⲁ-/ⲧⲁ-/ⲛⲁ- “he/she/they of-” and, much less explicitly, {ⲡⲉϥ-} “his”. Following several arguments meant to establish that these morpheme set(s) are “neither an article, nor a prefix”, Dr. Swiggers offers to replace the current terms with a new one, namely “possessive relation-marker”, presumably for both {ⲡⲁ-} and {ⲡⲉϥ-}.

Shisha-Halevy, A., 1984. The Existential Sentence in the Sahidic New Testament. GM , 77 , pp. 67–77.