Aramaic Loanwords in Neo-Assyrian 900–600 B.C

University dissertation from Uppsala : Department of Linguistics and Philology, Uppsala University

Abstract: This study aimed at identifying and analyzing Aramaic loanwords in Neo-Assyrian for the period 900–600 B.C. As two Semitic languages, Neo-Assyrian and Aramaic are sibling-descendants of a postulated common ancestor, Proto-Semitic. The study provides information about the contact between the two languages and about the people who spoke them.To achieve the purpose of the study, a total of 9057 unique Neo-Assyrian texts of different genre are utilized. A total of 166 proposed Aramaic loanwords in Neo-Assyrian are included and discussed in the study. The evaluation of the proposed loanwords is conducted using phonological, morphological and semantic criteria.The findings of the study demonstrate that only 69 words are considered to be confirmed loanwords, and 50 are considered to be possible loanwords. Additionally, 47 words are rejected for different reasons and are not considered Aramaic loanwords in Neo-Assyrian. The majority of the confirmed loanwords are attested in letters and legal and administrative documents from the 7th century B.C., stemming from the major Assyrian cities of Nineveh, Assur and Calah. Most of the confirmed loanwords are nouns.The relatively small number of certain and possible Aramaic loanwords is undoubtedly an evidence for the use of Aramaic in Assyria proper. The same evidence, however, fails to support the impression that Aramaic was widely spread in Assyria proper as a vernacular language, especially towards the end of the period studied. The evidence also corroborates the conclusion based on the extant prosopographical data that the predominantly Assyrian character was maintained in Assyria proper until the very end of the Assyrian empire.

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