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An Outline of Middle Voice in Syriac


Evidences of a Linguistic Category


This study presents a modern linguistic approach to the function of the Syriac et-verbal prefix. Based on a detailed analysis of a number of early Syriac texts, it proposes a unified account of the different values traditionally attributed to the Syriac et- stems. Farina views the data within a typologically comparative framework derived from a cross-linguistic study of middle conjugations.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-0145-6
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Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Dec 13,2011
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 7 x 10
Page Count: 197
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-0145-6
$132.00
$92.40

The book describes the results of a research over the semantic value and the functions of the Syriac verbal prefix et- and of the et- conjugations. A relevant portion of Syriac verbal syntax and semantics is studied in the light of modern linguistic theories. The author proposes a unified account of the different values that are traditionally attributed to the Syriac et-stems, which are studied as being part of a system of interactions of different syntactical and semantic parameters. These parameters are related to the linguistic category of unaccusativity, which has proven cross-linguistically to be a prominent feature of middle conjugations. The system includes also inner passive participles and pronominal reflexives that are considered both in their opposition and in their contiguity to the et- stems.

Such account descends from a detailed analysis of a number of early Syriac texts, based on the interaction of different parameters, such as voice, aspect, aktionsart and a study of the phenomenon of coreferential dative. The latter is examined with special focus on its combination with the et- stems, in the light of modern theories over the syntax-semantics interface. The Syriac data are set into a broader typological comparative frame, and the study partly follows the path traced by Kemmer’s capital work on middle voice, offering also new material for general linguistic research.

The book describes the results of a research over the semantic value and the functions of the Syriac verbal prefix et- and of the et- conjugations. A relevant portion of Syriac verbal syntax and semantics is studied in the light of modern linguistic theories. The author proposes a unified account of the different values that are traditionally attributed to the Syriac et-stems, which are studied as being part of a system of interactions of different syntactical and semantic parameters. These parameters are related to the linguistic category of unaccusativity, which has proven cross-linguistically to be a prominent feature of middle conjugations. The system includes also inner passive participles and pronominal reflexives that are considered both in their opposition and in their contiguity to the et- stems.

Such account descends from a detailed analysis of a number of early Syriac texts, based on the interaction of different parameters, such as voice, aspect, aktionsart and a study of the phenomenon of coreferential dative. The latter is examined with special focus on its combination with the et- stems, in the light of modern theories over the syntax-semantics interface. The Syriac data are set into a broader typological comparative frame, and the study partly follows the path traced by Kemmer’s capital work on middle voice, offering also new material for general linguistic research.

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Contributor Biography

Margherita Farina

Margherita Farina collaborates with the University and the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa on different projects concerning Syriac linguistics and philology. She holds a PhD in Linguistics from the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa and she has worked on different fields of Semitic linguistics. Her main contributions concern the Hebrew and Syriac Syntax-Semantics interface and the Hebrew and Syriac ancient grammatical traditions.

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • Foreword (page 11)
  • Acknowledgments (page 13)
  • Abbreviations (page 15)
  • Note on Transliteration (page 17)
  • 1. Introduction to the Problem (page 19)
    • 1.1. Survey of the Linguistic Material (page 19)
    • 1.2. Preliminary Observations (page 26)
    • 1.3. Et- Forms in some Modern Syriac Grammars (page 28)
    • 1.4. Mutawa'a and 'Middle' Verbs in Arabic Linguistics (page 31)
  • 2. Middle Voice and some Linguistic Correlations (page 35)
    • 2.1. Middle Voice (page 35)
    • 2.2. Aspectual and Actional Correlations (page 41)
    • 2.3. Unaccusativity (page 50)
    • 2.4. Formulation of the Working Hypothesis (page 58)
  • 3. Et- forms and Inner Passives in Semitic Studies (page 61)
    • 3.1. A Survey of Ancient Semitic Verbal t- Forms: Status Quaestionis (page 61)
    • 3.2. West Semitic and Aramaic inner passives (page 81)
  • 4. Textual Analysis 1: Middle Semantics (page 87)
    • 4.1. Presentation of Sample (page 87)
    • 4.2. Methodology of the Analysis (page 89)
    • 4.3. Voice (page 91)
    • 4.4. Aspect (page 100)
    • 4.5. Actionality (page 107)
  • Charts (page 116)
  • 5. Textual Analysis 2: Coreferential Dative (page 129)
    • 5.1. Introduction: Syntactic Aspects (page 129)
    • 5.2. Coreferential Dative, Dativus Ethicus and Object Marker (page 131)
    • 5.3. Coreferential Dative with the Other Verbal Stems (page 135)
    • 5.4 Frist Conclusions: Semantic and Syntoctico-Semantic Aspects (page 138)
    • 5.5. Other Properties of Corefreential Dative in the Demonstrationes and in other Syriac Texts (page 140)
    • 5.6. Typological Comparisons (page 143)
    • 5.7. Concluding Remarks (page 150)
  • 6. Conclusions (page 153)
  • Appendix 1 (page 157)
    • Diathesis in Medieval Syriac Grammars (page 157)
  • Appendix 2 (page 163)
    • A. List of Occurrences of the Structure et- Form +l + Coreferential Dative in Aphrahat's Demonstrationes (page 163)
    • B. list of Occurrences of the Structure et- Form + l + Coreferential Dative in Ephrem's Commentaries on Genesis and Exodus (page 176)
    • C. Coreferential Dative in the First Seven Acts of Judas Thomas (page 180)
    • D. Coreferential Dative with et- Stems in the Pesitta Gospels (page 185)
  • Bibliography (page 187)
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