Comparative Etymological Studies in the Western Neo-Syriac (Turoyo) Lexicon : With Special Reference to Homonyms, Related Words and Borrowings with Cultural Signification

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: This is a comparative study of words presenting etymological problems in the Western Neo-Syriac (Turoyo) lexicon, with the principal aim of providing new etymological solutions and suggestions and giving an account of the most common linguistic processes by which various changes are carried out in the individual words studied. For the first time all important homonyms in this language are investigated with regard to their origin and use. Further, numerous words with the same radicals but of different origin, Arabic cognates and other borrowings, influence also from Kurdish, related words with different radicals, doublets, words with cultural signification and compounds are examined. The prefix 'ad- and the endings -ad, -el and -al in some adverbial formations are discussed. The development of the beġadkefat is observed. New words, new forms, new meanings and dialectal differences are recorded. The study shows that sporadic changes, reduction of the long vowels which have lost their phonemic length in closed syllables, borrowings, neologisms and folk etymologies have given rise to a relatively small number of homonymous nouns and homonymous verbal stems whose use may contextually be kept separate by various means. Homonymous nouns and homonymous verbal stems common to all dialects are few. There is a good deal of homonymous verbal roots which, as a rule, occur in different verbal stems. Hence the verbal roots are of secondary importance in relation to verbal stems. Dissimilation and assimilation are two linguistic phenomena that lie behind many of the changes carried out in the words discussed in the study. Dissimilation plays a crucial part in the change r > l in words containing the succession -r-r-. Words originally containing one of the successions -r-r- and -l-l- may be subject to dissimilation also by syncope or by haplology. Contiguous regressive assimilation, where voiced sounds and voiceless ones may become devoiced and voiced, respectively, is a fairly common phenomenon. The change s > s, partial assimilation, is of frequent occurrence in words containing r and t. Total assimilation of n occurs in several words in which it does not appear. Metatheses are observed in words with the sounds l and r. Epenthetic consonants arise in words containing the dentals. Prostheses manifest themselves in some originally biradical nouns. The syllabic structure of the language shows considerable stability. Some trisyllabic words have been reduced to disyllabic ones.

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