Archive for the ‘Determination’ category

Blau, Joshua, “Short philological notes on the inscription of Meša’”, Maarav 2/2 (1979-80), 143-157.

September 6, 2007

Blau makes several comments on interesting linguistic features from the Mesha inscription. On the use of the direct object marker ‘t Blau suggests an original form *’iyyāt to account for the consonantal y in Phoenician ‘yt and the doubled y in Arabic ‘iyyā-. In Hebrew and Moabite the y elided despite its doubling, which is not unexpected for a grammatical marker. Blau also analyzes the usage of ‘t, describing it as “facultative”. It is clear that the common Mesha construction ‘nk plus perfect is never followed by ‘t which seems to be a stylistic feature. In contrast, ‘t is attested after the perfect which appears alone in lines 18-19: wmlk.yśr’l.bnh ’t | yhṣ. Blau tentatively suggests that ‘t is only used preceding persons as a direct object with the purpose of distinguishing subject from object, since persons are more naturally subjects. This tendency is seen in Biblical Aramaic where l as a rule introduces determinate personal objects. In the Mesha inscription this also includes place names. Interestingly, this suggests that the enigmatic ‘r’l dwdh from lines 12-13 most likely refers to a person and not an object since it is marked with ‘t. If this thesis is correct, it would also corroborate the assumption that the case endings had dropped since this would be the prerequisite for ambiguity between subjects and personal objects.


Blau, Joshua, “On some Arabic dialectal features paralleled by Hebrew and Aramaic”, The Jewish Quarterly Review, 76 no 1 (1985), 5-12.

September 5, 2007

In this article Blau traces the development of certain linguistic features in Arabic to suggest possible explanations for similar developments in Hebrew and Aramaic. On the reasons for the loss of the determining force of the definite article in Eastern Aramaic, Blau adduces examples from the Arabic dialect of Daragozu and the modern Western Aramaic dialects of the anti-Lebanon. In these dialects it is the subject and not the object in which the determinate noun is not differentiated from the indeterminate. This seems to follow from the fact that the determination of the subject is based mostly on context and does not need to be marked for the purpose of communication. More important is the distinction between subject and object. Since subjects are naturally definite, it is definite objects which are most likely to be mistaken for subjects. Thus Daragozu maintains the definite article only with definite objects, but indefinite objects and all subjects are left unmarked. In the Anti-Lebanon definite objects are marked by a special form of the verb. In Eastern Aramaic the use of le and/or an anticipatory pronoun to mark definite objects allows ambiguity of the emphatic state.