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The dot is used for everything in Syriac from tense to gender, number, and pronunciation, and unsurprisingly represents one of the biggest obstacles to learning the language. Using inscriptions, early grammars, and experiments with modern scribes, Dr. Kiraz peels back the evolution of the dot layer by layer to explain each of its uses in detail and to show how it adopted the wide range of uses it has today.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4100-1
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Oct 25,2019
Interior Color: Black with Color Inserts
Trim Size: 5.5 x 7
Page Count: 232
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4100-1
$42.00
$25.20

The diacritical point in Syriac is confusing at best. All students are aware of the dots on letters like resh and daleth the same way English readers are aware of the dots on letters like i and j, but most people do not know why they are there.

In his new book, Dr. Kiraz peels back the story of the dot layer by layer to discover its origin and use in Syriac orthography. Beginning with dots on resh and daleth, the book moves on to the development of plural dots, and then examines the use of dots to distinguish between homographs and the rationale behind dot placement. Kiraz conducts experiments with modern scribes to construct a theory of the origin of the dot. He also discusses the development of the dot to mark hard and soft consonants, and later, silent letters.

From these early uses, dots became an increasingly important part of Syriac writing. Kiraz traces the beginnings of using dots to mark gender and tense, as well as increasingly sophisticated sounds, to the dot's role in signifying vowels, vowel sequence, accents, and punctuation marks. Finally, the book examines the dot in the medieval and modern periods, providing some insight into the role of dots when producing Syriac and garshuni manuscripts.

The diacritical point in Syriac is confusing at best. All students are aware of the dots on letters like resh and daleth the same way English readers are aware of the dots on letters like i and j, but most people do not know why they are there.

In his new book, Dr. Kiraz peels back the story of the dot layer by layer to discover its origin and use in Syriac orthography. Beginning with dots on resh and daleth, the book moves on to the development of plural dots, and then examines the use of dots to distinguish between homographs and the rationale behind dot placement. Kiraz conducts experiments with modern scribes to construct a theory of the origin of the dot. He also discusses the development of the dot to mark hard and soft consonants, and later, silent letters.

From these early uses, dots became an increasingly important part of Syriac writing. Kiraz traces the beginnings of using dots to mark gender and tense, as well as increasingly sophisticated sounds, to the dot's role in signifying vowels, vowel sequence, accents, and punctuation marks. Finally, the book examines the dot in the medieval and modern periods, providing some insight into the role of dots when producing Syriac and garshuni manuscripts.

"This study of the Syriac dot should be required reading for all beginning students of Syriac, as they will quickly acquire insight into discerning homographs and their separate meanings. The study is very readable, in fact, enjoyable, as the author tantalizes us with potential reasons why scribes developed a system of diacritics using the dot. Those who study Syriac manuscripts will also benefit from comments about how early manuscripts can differ from more recent orthographic and diacritic conventions that appear in printed editions. The book is a must read for every serious student of Syriac."

- Jerome A. Lund, Review of Biblical Literature, 2017

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Contributor Biography

George Kiraz

George A. Kiraz is the founder and director of Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute, and the president of Gorgias Press. He earned an MSt in Syriac Studies from Oxford University, and an MPhil and PhD from Cambridge University. He has an extensive list of publications in Syriac studies.

Preface (ix) 
Script and Transcription (xiv) 
The First Single Dot (1) 
The First Double Dot (14) 
The Power of the Single Dot (31) 
An Intelligent Dot (41) 
The Kenoro Dotless Experiment (48) 
The Silent Dot (62) 
The Shifting Dot (68) 
A Suffix Dot (71) 
Tagging Dots (77) 
Red Dots (82) 
A Pair of Dots (94) 
Vowel Dots (99) 
Punctuation Dots (108)
Reading Dots (114) 
The Net of Dots (120) 
Oops Dots (124) 
Garshunography Dots (129) 
Dots Today (134)
Epilogue (139) 
Appendix 1: Script Guide (142) 
Appendix 2: KDE Data (144) 
Appendix 3: Chronology of Events (152) 
Appendix 4: Manuscripts Consulted (158) 
Plates (159) 
Appendix 5: Comments on Plates (169) 
Notes (173) 
Works Cited (179) 
Word Index (187) 
General Index (195) 
Reader’s Notes (205)

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