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6346Re: [hugoye-list] verbs in asyndeton

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  • David Kiltz
    Apr 23, 2014
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      Dear Dr. Palmer,

      That’s a very interesting question you bring up. Not too much, I suppose, has been written on various diachronic aspects of Classical Syriac. Apart from Noeldeke (referring to § 337 of his ‘Compendious Grammar’, I presume), I thought I had found a reference to this in W. M. Thackston’s ‘Introduction’ but cannot find it right now. I am working on something written on the Syriac verb in diachronic perspective and I was meaning to comment on these constructions as well. I.e. what linguists often also call ’serial verb’ constructions (as opposed, e.g. to consecutive ones with w- or the like of Akkadian Verb1 + Verb2 -ma etc.). Both types of constructions are also often called ’sequential verbs’ and although sharp distictions are made between serial constructions proper and others, it would be worthwhile to have another look, I think. I’m very thankful for your drawing attention to the specific development in Syriac, these contructions would in fact seem to mean different things. Two conditions of forming serial verb constructions proper are, I think that both (or all) verbs have to be in the same ‘tense’ and the same person/number. This may be obvious but I didn’t see it mentioned in Noeldeke. Of course, these aren’t exclusive characteristics. I’m not aware of any other work in this area but would be thankful for any updates.


      On 23 Apr 2014, at 10:03, Andrew Palmer <MerandRewpal@...> wrote:

      My first question to the Huogoye list concerns Syriac syntax. Is anyone out there interested in, or working on, the rules governing the use of two or more verbs in asyndeton, that is, without Waw ('and') to join them? The transmission of the Life of Barsawmo suggests that scribes tended to add Waw in copying such verb-clusters, because they lived in a time when this aspect of Syriac syntax was no longer fully understood. I am particularly interested in clusters of three verbs without a copula and in clusters of two where the first modifies the second and can often best be translated by an adverb in English. Apart from Noeldeke, I have not read any analysis of this phenomenon. It would help editors if a full list of modifying verbs attested in asyndeton could be drawn up. To give one concrete example, I could then look up /'azzi/ and see if the sentence /kmo kay meshkaH (h)wo da-n'azze w-neT'an ulSono/ (under the seventeenth rubric of the text) might be emended to /da-n'azze neT'an/, translating: 'With what great fortitude (/n'azze/) he was able to endure (/neT'an/) suffering' on the basis of the attestation of the cluster /'azzi T'en/, preferably in a manuscript of the fifth or sixth century.

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