Egyptian

Satzinger, H. & Shisha-Halevy, A., 1999. (review) The Snark is Dead. Lingua Aegyptia , 6 , pp. 167–176.Abstract

The Heroe, Scourge of Ingénuité and Naïveté, couched his Lance and spurred his mighty Stallion. He bore on the trembling enemy like a tempest, charged him en véritable sanglier, and — a few echoing pages and many poignant footnotes later — what had been nasty Standardtheorie (more conveniently known to its rather dubious friends as ‘the Snark’) was left a wretched, bloody bundle of opinions squirming on the ground. O great relief! The Menace, the obnoxious (And, if the truth be told, pathetic) Skandalon of modern enlightened Linguistics and Egyptology, is no more — to the everlasting gratitude and awe of future generations.

Shisha-Halevy, A., 1998. (review) A First Structural Grammar of Demotic. Bibliotheca Orientalis , 55 (5/6) , pp. 587–600.Abstract

0.1 The book under review is structured as follows: Presentation of the texts, previous work on them, features of the corpus; the structure of nominal phrases (bases, determiners and quantifiers, their lexical expansions; clausal expansions, the augens, number and gender, adjectives; partitive, genitival and appositive constructions). Special types of noun (PNs, numbers, verbal nouns). Verb phrases and verb clauses (bases and their expansions; the tenses; auxiliaries); the durative system (with discussion of subjects and predicates, negation, conversion, aspect and existential patterns). Predication and emphasis (esp. Nominal Predications and the Second Tenses). Appendices include Tables (demonstrative, determinators, quantifiers, pronominals, converters); the texts and their translation. Bibliographical references and Indexes (passages discussed, words discussed, other texts quoted). Individual section are structured as follows: Form (morphology, orthography, palaeography); “Function” (grammatical status and role, patterning and construction); “Content” (semantics).

0.2 This work is wondrously attractive in presentation, to a linguist, especially a ‘linguist of later Egyptian’. I must say, at the onset, that I find the book a splendid achievement. I must also personally and subjectively confess to an especially festive feeling, under the enticing sensation of Demotic as ‘Egyptian-encoded Coptic’, a sensation intensified and enhanced by carefully perusing the present work. Demotic, and especially early Demotic, is still the least familiar of all phases of Egyptian; and that not least due to this very same enigmatic balance between the Coptic-type and ‘pre-Coptic Egyptian’-type phenomena. In fact, Demotic has a special value for the typological diachrony of Egyptian: its conception as an in-between phase between the (analyzing) LE to the (agglutinating in resynthesizing) Coptic must stand or fall by precise structural information, such as is offered by this painstaking work. For instance, the Second Tenses and focalization; the perfect vs. preterite opposition; the Nominal Sentence; the aorist (atemporal) tense category; the future, the causative form-constructions — these are all features that pattern and inform the unbroken history of Egyptian, the longest unbroken evolution of any language in our experience.

This work is a non-generative, truly descriptive, methodologically impeccable grammar. It sets out to evaluate and criticize prior research as well as collect and consolidate new evidence. Its statements are clearly and convincingly expounded, offering coherent interpretations, firmly grounded in source material, and many mises en question, with a wealth of detailed information. Indeed, it is th the first Demotic grammar since Lexa’s work of 1940-1951 (Janet Johnson’s account of the verbal system in Roman Demotic [1976] comes nearest to being a comprehensive grammar, and of course covers much more extensive ground, corpus-wise).

0.3 The corpus at the base of Simpson’s work is of a textemic genre very much sui generis. The author himself is fully aware of the limited corpus and ensuing incomplete picture of grammatical systematization (58). We have here a case of Kanzleistil - archaic, formal, formulary; arguably not a style but a genre, even a texteme. (A blend of Leviticus with a ‘Vita Monachorum’ preceptive genre comes to a Coptologist’s mind). In this corpus, the documentation of the tenses is very partial (note esp. the absence of non-converted forms. The use of the future is restricted; no modal future is attested. The prospective form is almost exclusively grammaticalized as a causative exponent). In this sense, the work is an instance of corpus-based textemic grammar. It is however only fair to observe that Simpson offers as a rule documentation from a broad range of other corpuses (cf. pp. 60, 90, 91, 93, 128, 130f., 153ff. etc.), effectively giving his statements the validity of a comprehensive grammar. When the canvas is as large and varied as in Demotic (the differences between phases are complex and rich, often comparable to those between Old and Middle Egyptian), this has a real advantage.The Index Locorum is thus especially welcome; yet one misses a Subject Index.

The Bibliography (with the discussion of grammatical opinion in the text) constitutes no less than a full resumé of the Demotistic (and to a considerable extent Egyptian and Coptic linguistic) literature of the last century (from Griffith’s Stories of the High Priests [1900] onwards).

0.4 Non-attestation, ever an important problematic issue in dead-language linguistics, to be resolved only structurally, acquires an urgency still more acute in a Spezialgrammatik, and all the more so in a genre so special as the present one. In this context, the dilemma of the authenticity of the Demotic (in the sense of ‘linguistic validity as uninfluenced by a Vorlage text’) acquires a special meaning (22ff. - Relation of demotic and Greek texts’). On this question, I would suggest a parallel composition of the texts, with an ongoing accommodation of the Demotic to the Greek version. The validity of the Demotic as a testo di lingua is in any case beyond doubt.

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. 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., 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., 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. Work Notes on Demotic Syntax. Orientalia , 58 , pp. 28–60.Abstract

This series of notes is meant to suggest and define relevant issues and systemic implications, reflecting on certain not unimportant grammatical phenomena of Demotic. They constitute annotated documentation or record, combining the time-honoured categories of “Miszellen”, “Lesefrüchte”, and “Vermischte Beiträge” (In the spirit of A. Tobler’s [1886–1912], on Old French and Romance syntax. Often, they suggest diachronic “tie-ins” between comparable Demotic and Coptic facts, and almost always they have direct bearing on locus interpretation. The evidence adduced is predominantly local or incidental and lays no claim to exhaustiveness, the discussion suggestive and not definitive; its chief justification is in putting the discussed phenomena in systemic perspective and “opening pigeonholes” for further documentation and consideration.

Shisha-Halevy, A., 1989. The Narrative Verbal System of Old and Middle Egyptian. Orientalia , 58 , pp. 247–254.Abstract

A review article of Éric Doret, The Narrative Verbal System of Old and Middle Egyptian.

The importance of the narrative parole to descriptive grammar is (esp. in a written or dead language) greater than that of dialogue, because of the heavier contribution of pragmatic factors and circumstances in the latter case; that is, in narrative these are “segmented” and cotextually given and the “environmental” factor is therefore much more considerably textual. This makes the book under review so important as a comprehensive component study of Egyptian grammar in general and an account of the Old and Middle Egyptian verb in particular.
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Shisha-Halevy, A., 1989. Papyrus Vandier recto: an Early Demotic Text in the Hieratic Script?. Journal of the American Oriental Society , 109 , pp. 421–435.Abstract

In a review article of the first edition of the Hieratic text in P. Vandier, an attempt is made to locate the linguistic usage of the story on the recto in Egyptian diachrony. Taken as a corpus consistently and coherently representative and état de langue, the text is systematically scanned for grammatical features and feature clusters as cumulative indications of affinity with Late Egyptian or alternatively Demotic. The Hieratic script notwithstanding, the linguistic picture observed — remarkably rich and varied — is that of an Early Demotic linguistic system, strikingly similar to that of P. Rylands IX. The evidence points insistently to Demotic (or post-LE) typology, while presenting virtually no unambiguous evidence of Late Egyptian grammar associations.
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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.
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