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A conversational text in the Neo-Mandaic dialect of Ahvaz.

Neo-Mandaic (NM) is the last phase of a pre-modern vernacular closely related to Classical Mandaic, (1) a Mesopotamian Aramaic idiom of Late Antiquity. Both dialects of NM, those of the cities of Ahvaz and Khorramshahr in the Iranian province of Khuzestan, are critically endangered, being spoken by merely a few hundred adherents of Mandaeism, the only gnostic religion to have survived until the present day. All other Mandaeans, numbering several tens of thousands, are Arabic or Persian speakers. (2)

Texts in the NM dialect of Ahvaz have all hitherto been associated with the pioneering work of the late Prof. Rudolf Macuch, (3) and mostly deal with Mandaean religion, traditions, cultural heritage, and folklore. Most extant texts in Ahvaz-NM are tainted, to some extent, with Classical Mandaic (CM) words and forms that are not actually used in the vernacular. (4)

In what follows I shall present a new text in this critically endangered dialect which is entirely colloquial, being a sample of daily speech amongst Ahvazi NM speakers and exhibiting phrases related to hospitality, greetings, expressions of gratitude, wishes for health, and other common phrases used in social interaction. (5) Furthermore, whereas all previous Neo-Mandaic texts are based solely on male speakers, the following text involves a female informant who speaks in the first person, as well as a male speaker.

Indeed, one of the hallmarks of this text is the unique Ahvaz-NM 1sg.f. imperfective ending -c, as in qehazyc 'I (f.) see' ([section]1 3 below), (6) which has a rare pausal allomorph -cnc, as in qatycnc 'I (f.) am coming' ([section] 18), and an allomorph -cn- preceding an object suffix, as in qehazycni 'I (f.) see him' ([section] 21). (7) The Ahvaz-NM 1sg.f. imperfective form CaCCc(nc) harks back to the pre-modern sg.f. active participle with a 1sg. enclitic pronoun CaCCa-na, and has close cognates in most other Neo-Aramaic varieties, e.g., *nahlana 'I (f.) sift' > Ahvaz-NM nahlc(nc), Saqiz-NENA naxlan(a), Midin-Turoyo nehlono, all 'I (f.) might sift'. In the NM dialect of Khorramshahr, however, the erstwhile 1sg.f. imperfective form appears to have been lost in favor of a common 1sg. form based on the erstwhile 1sg.m. one. (8)

The survival of these 1sg.f. imperfective forms in Ahvaz-NM, coupled with evidence of distinct Jewish Babylonian Aramaic 1sg.f. cognate forms such as meqabbelana) 'I (f.) receive', (9) leaves no doubt as to the authenticity of CM forms such as iadlana 'I (f.) give birth' and labsana 'I (f.) wear'. (10)

The following text was recorded in 2010 in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, and involves two of my Ahvaz-NM informants, Sam and his wife Huwwa Simat. At my request, Sam and Huwwa Simat worked with me on a dialogue in which they strove to reenact the first moments following the actual arrival of Sam's sister Sabiha, who had come from Iran for a visit a few months before my own visit.

The first step towards producing the following text was to record Sam's initial dialogue in which he played both himself and his sister, wherein each section of direct speech was preceded by sam qcmer 'Sam says' or sabiha qcmer (sic) 'Sabiha says'. (11) Gradually, after playing and replaying the recording to Sam and adding improvements and additional sentences (like offering Sabiha cold water), following his idea or mine, the final plan of a conversation emerged.

Once the plan of action, as it were, was finally consolidated, Huwwa Simat took part so that Sam played the role of himself, while--in the absence of Sabiha--Huwwa Simat played the role of the latter. After some preliminary recordings Sam and Huwwa Simat learned their parts and were ready for the final recording of the dialogue.

Although the way the couple spoke in the actual final recording was often not precisely according to plan, the improvised deviations from the planned dialogue on the part of the speakers have served only to make things sound even more natural, (12) and contributed to my goal of furnishing a text that reflects a typical conversation between two Neo-Mandaic speakers in a situation where one is receiving his relative as a guest.

Despite the fact that the text presented here is not an actual conversation but a sort of performance aimed at reconstructing a real event, I find it a most representative sample of the way Ahvazi Mandaeans intimately related to one another communicate amongst themselves in their unique Neo-Aramaic vernacular.

MItI (13) L-SABIHA [much less than]SABIHA'S VISIT[greater less than]

(1) Narrator (Sam): sewcq (14) amrenni ke hcte sabiha etat qcran me-ircn. bctar scdcn amti l-sabiha pom-wcw, (15) sabiha w scdcn qebcgsen (16) pom-wcw.

Let us say that my sister Sabiha came to us from Iran. After Shadan (Sam's son) brought Sabiha to [our] doorstep, Sabiha and Shadan are standing at the doorstep.

(2) Sabiha: sutc nehwilxcn!

Greetings to you all!

Sam: swctc d-heyyi nehwilex! (17) b-esmi d-heyyi, (18) dus! (19) mcre hil hewlex! (20)

Greetings of Life (21) be upon you! In the name of Life, [do] enter! May God grant you strength!

(3) Sabiha: pyen tcw elcwxcn!

Good evening to (lit., upon) you all!

Sam: pyen tcw, xotscw (22) elcwex! ehyit etit! (23)

Good evening and greetings to (lit., upon) you! Welcome!

(4) Sabiha: kemm-iyct, (24) sam?

How are you, Sam?

Sam: bassim howit. farwch (25) more. ct ke'mm-iyct?

Thank you. (26) Thank God. [And] how are you?

Sabiha: sebert-encn, farwch mcre!

I'm well, thank God.

(5) Sam: ehtert go hezcyex.

I am happy to see you (lit., I rejoiced in seeing you). (27)

Sabiha: anc ham genz ehetrit (28) go hezcyax.

I, too, am very happy to see you.

(6) Sam: cmcy hamim-ye

It's hot today.

Sabiha: i, cmcy genz hamim-ye. go ircn setew-ye, ammcn ehnc messe (29) gyet-ye.

Yes, it's very hot today. In Iran it's winter, but here it's the middle of the summer.

(7) Sabiha: ehnc rehaw la qemtahlef? (30) go lili la qhcwi mossitar? (31)

Doesn't the weather change here (during summer)? Doesn't it get cooler at night?

Sam: lo (32) genz. lilyc w emcm hamim exti. (33) esqad u taltad hamimtar me-c sette (34) hewc. nur serxat ehnc, u genz destct (35) nur serexycn, u barnesc qelcn. c sette, farwch mcre, bextar-ye (36) me-esqad u taltad.

Not much. It is hot [here] day and night. Last year and the year before it was hotter than this year. Many fields caught fire and people were burned [to death]. Thank God, this year is better than last year and the year before.

(8) Sabiha: hom ehnc la-qmetwer (37) go byet ... e ... go gyet?

Doesn't the heat break here at home ... er ... in summer?

Sam: bale, qomtahlef. bctar hom meter qemchi, u rehaw qemcsi, u baizi yumcn qemnassem. (38)

Yes it does (lit., actually it does change). After the heat it rains (lit., rain hits) and the weather cools, and some days it is breezy.

(9) Sam: hen dere, (39) myen messi sut.

Here, take, drink [some] cold water.

Sabiha: farwchax.

Thank you.

(10) Sam: kem-ye (40) safid?

How is [your husband] Sa'id?

Sabiha: sebir-ye, farwch mcre, huy ham qetcres go appexcn.

He's well, thank God. He also sends his regards to you all. (41)

(11) Sam: ycnqcn kemm-enon? (42)

[And] how are the children?

Sabiha: sebir-ncn, (43) farwch more, qenasqelle l-idax.

Thank God, they are well. They send their humble regards to you (lit., they kiss your hand).

(12) Sam: mcre saweqlu.

May God protect them. (44)

Sabiha: u saweqle l-ycnqcnax.

And may He protect your children.

(13) Sabiha: qehazyc senartexcn qerahmcle. yehim-i qehexcle l-hassa go kercye (45)

I see that your cat likes me. She's rubbing her back against my leg.

Sam: i. atina ke botar obruncn rahtc u laxtclu, laket la-qaxlclu. qebi (46) mixel al-byet cxlc. etmal gcli (47) dcsat go byet, u senart tallat orka, u mehat go tofrcna. tallat elcwa, bas la getclta wa-la exclta.

Indeed. We brought her to run after mice and catch them, but she doesn't catch them. She wants to eat homemade food. Yesterday a dung beetle entered the house, and the cat played with it and hit [it] with its claws. She played with it but didn't kill it nor did she eat it.

(14) Sam: kefin-ct? (48)

Are you hungry?

Sabiha: la, lexte kefnc. (49) sercsom ewadt qamc ke l-atyc.

No, I'm not hungry. I had (lit., did) lunch before I came (lit., before that I come).

(15) Sabiha: eli-ye nuriye? anc la qhazycna.

Where's [your wife] Nuriye? I don't see her.

Sam: ezgat qcr byet aha. persc qcti. (50)

She went to her brother's place. She's coming [back] tomorrow.

(16) Sabiha: hef tam. ebit hazycna.

What a pity. I wanted to see her.

Sam: i, persc sobah qemkamrc

Well (lit., yes), she's coming back tomorrow morning.

(17) Sam: la qegcnit qcran c pyen?

Aren't you sleeping at our place tonight?

Sabiha: c pyen qalc qcr emme, akkot qeganyc.

I'm going to mother's (lit., my mother's) place tonight [and] will sleep there.

(18) Sam: hemdc mc qebct dyete. (51) byetex-ye, la-sifit.

Come whenever you like. It's your home, don't be embarrassed.

Sabiha: farwchax. la qasefc, anc. ham persc la qeyimbe. (52) remaher qatycnc.

Thank you. I'm not embarrassed. I can't [come] tomorrow too. I'm coming the day after.

(19) Sam: remaher qemahdernex go welct.

The day after tomorrow I'll take you around town.

Sabiha: sebir-ye! qebc zawnc asbcb al-telul qam jihlc. (53)

Good! (lit., it's good). I want to buy toys (lit., devices of game) for the children.

Sam: i, qamu! qehadrenni w qezawenanne l-mendcni ke qebctu. ham qalenni (54) ele derk-e (55) naher. genz heli-ye akkot.

By all means! We'll go around and buy the things that you want (lit., want them). We'll also go to (lit., on) the bank of the river. (56) It's very beautiful there.

(20) Sabiha: mu saiat-ye qalenni?

At what time (lit., hour) are we going?

Sam: esta la qayade. (57) per so telefon qamahenni w qamernex.

I don't know yet (lit., now). We'll phone someone (lit., we'll hit a phone-call) tomorrow and I'll tell you.

(21) Sam: persa mu ehlex? qamu la qayimbex otit?

What's your plan for (lit., what do you have) tomorrow? Why can't you come?

Sabiha: persa doktor qahazyani. (58) I'm seeing the doctor tomorrow.

(22) Sam: qamu? mudinex?

Why? What's the matter with you?

Sabiha: hic lehle. messi bedaq gowwe u qenesc.

Nothing (lit., nothing I don't have). I caught a cold (lit., cold put in me) and I'm coughing.

(23) Sam: i, qesayetnex. qclex lexet-ye. bosmc hawilex!

Yes, I hear you [are]. You've [also] lost your voice (lit., your voice is caught). Be healthy!

Sabiha: bassim hcwet! etmal me-gehi (59) genit u falge-lili ettirit (60) u la sexwit tom. mesehin hewit u rise hewc qekcyew, (61) u cmcy bextar-ncn, sct sewcqte.

Thanks a lot! Yesterday I went to bed (lit., slept) early and woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't (lit., didn't) fall asleep again. I had a fever (lit., I was feverish) and my head was aching, and today I'm better, my fever is gone (lit., fever left me).

(24) Sabiha: emolle, remaher mu yumi exti?

Tell me, what day is the day after tomorrow?

Sam: sewuq hazin. cmcy kelctawsdb-ye u persc arawsab-ye, u remaher yum hiwilziw-ye. tom hemdc ehnc-yct?

Let me see. Today is Tuesday and tomorrow is Wednesday and the day after tomorrow is Thursday. Until when are you [going to stay] here?

(25) Sabiha: tom terawsab ehnc-ncn.

I'm here till Monday.

(26) Sam: hewe qoran!

Stay (lit., be) at our place!

Sabiha: la, qehawyc qcr emme.

No, I'll stay at mother's (lit., I'll be at my mother's) place.

Sam: kefdex. elyc mc rahct-yct.

As you wish. Wherever you're comfortable.

(27) Sabiha: qeycdax simat mextat? (62)

Did (lit., do) you know Simat died?

Sam: man-i simat?

Who is Simat?

Sabiha: simat sewcwt al-emman-i.

Simat who is mother's (lit., our mother's) neighbor.

(28) Sam: erwchc matila.

May her soul rest in peace. (63)

Sabiha: lahmal mextat. kun alenni qam ris-bassim (64) ahlcnda.

She died the day before yesterday. We should go to convey our condolences to (lit., for condolences of) her family.

Sam: i, qamu! hemdc mc qebct qalenni.

Yes, by all means! We'll go whenever you want.

(29) Sabiha: qebct c pyen alenni qcru?

Would you like to go (lit., that we go) to them tonight?

Sam: c pyen haten sewcwan qebcy hazilan. sawqenni yum horini, aw--agar yimbex (65)--sawqenni persc bctar qamyet. (66)

Our neighbor's son in-law wants to see us tonight. Let's leave [it] for another day, or--if you can--we might leave [it] for tomorrow afternoon.

Sabiha: persc bctar qamye't sebir-ye.

Tomorrow afternoon is fine.

(30) Sam: ketkem qabct holyc badeqnc go cehidex?

How much sugar would you like me to put in your tea?

Sabiha: pelti, bas ya-qcsoq, farwchax! bctar mesetyc l-cehi (67) qalc qcr emme qehazycna.

A bit, just one teaspoon, thank you! After drinking tea (lit., of tea) I'm going to see mother (lit., I go to my mother, I will see her).

(31) Narrator (Sam): bctar meseti al-cehi sabiha qeqimc, u cmer (68) farwchxcn.

After drinking [her] tea Sabiha gets up and says "thank you all."

Sabiha: farwchxcn ele kol mendc!

Thank you all for (lit., on) everything.

Sam: farwch ruhex!

Thank you!

(32) Sabiha: anc ezgit. tercsycn go ap nuriye.

I'm off (lit., I went). Send (pl.) regards to Nuriye.

Sam: mcre go zahartex! persc qehazinex.

May God protect you! (lit., God in your protection). I'll see you tomorrow.

(33) Sabiha: mcre mzaherlexcn!

May God protect you all!

Sam: mcre orkex!

May God be with you! (lit., God with you).


Buckley, Y. J. 2002. The Mandaeans: Ancient Text and Modern People. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. Chyet, M. L. 2003. Kurdish-English Dictionary. Ferhenga Kurmanci-Inglizi. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press.

Drawer, E. S. 1937. The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

--, and R. Macuch. 1963. A Mandaic Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Haberl, C. G. 2009. The Neo-Mandaic Dialect of Khorramshahr. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Macuch, R. 1965a. The Bridge of Shushtar: A Legend in Vernacular Mandaic. In Studia Semitica, loanni Bakos Dicata, ed. J. Bakos and S. Segert. Pp. 153-72. Bratislava: Vydavatel'stvo Slovenskej akademie vied.

--. 1965b. Handbook of Classical and Modern Mandaic. Berlin: W. de Gruyter.

--. 1989. Neumandaische Chrestomathie mit grammatischer Skizze, kommentierter Uber setzung und Glossar. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

--. 1993. Neumandaische Texte im Dialekt von Ahwaz. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Morgenstem, M. 2010. Diachronic Studies in Mandaic. Orientalia 79: 505-25.

--.2011. Studies in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic Based upon Early Eastern Manuscripts. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns.

--. forthcoming. Forgotten Forms in Babylonian Aramaic (Mandaic and Jewish). Language Studies 16 [Hebrew].

Mutzafi, H. 2010. Review of C. G. Haberl, The Neo-Mandaic Dialect of Khorramshahr. Aramaic Studies 8.1-2: 147-58.

--. 2014. Comparative Lexical Studies in Neo-Mandaic. Leiden: Brill.

--. 2015. Verbal Conjugations in the Neo-Mandaic Dialect of Ahvaz. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 165: 321-36.

Noldeke, Th. 1875. Mandaische Grammatik. Halle: Buchhandlung des Waisenhauses.

Sokoloff, M. 2002. Dictionary of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic of the Talmudic and Geonic Periods. Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press.

--.2009. A Syriac Lexicon: A Translation from the Latin. Correction, Expansion, and Update of C. Brockelmann's lexicon Syriacum. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns.

Steingass, F. J. 1892. Comprehensive Persian-English Dictionary. London: Routledge and K. Paul.

Wahby, T., and C. J. Edmonds. 1966. A Kurdish-English Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press.



All data related to Neo-Mandaic and other Neo-Aramaic varieties are drawn from my informants. Classical Mandaic, Jewish Babylonian Aramaic, and Syriac vocables are based on Drawer and Macuch 1963, Sokoloff 2002, and Sokoloff 2009, respectively. As a rule, stress is marked in this paper only when it is not penultimate. In compounds and words with clitics, stress is marked regardless of its position, for the sake of clarity. Abbreviations: Ar.--Arabic, CM--Classical Mandaic, int.--intransitive, JBA--Jewish Babylonian Aramaic, Khor.--Khorramshahr (dialect of Neo-Mandaic), NENA--North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic, NM--Neo-Mandaic, part.--participle, Pers.--(modern) Persian, p.c.--personal communication, tr.--transitive.

(1.) The assumption that the pre-modern Mandaic ancestor of NM was not identical to CM is based on NM forms and words which do not directly descend from CM precursors. Some of these have closely related JBA correspondents, e.g., *la hi 'she is not' > JBA 'it is not', NM le 'not, non-' (alongside *la hu 'he is not' > Ahvaz-NM to, Khor.-NM lu 'not, non-'), and see further Macuch 1989: 15, Morgenstern 2010: 509-23.

(2.) For the current state of NM and each of its dialects and for the vicissitudes of this language and its speakers see Mutzafi 2014: 1-5.

(3.) See Macuch 1965a: 153-72; 1989: 106-61; 1993: 104-359.

(4.) For the issue of Classical Mandaic vocables in previous studies on Neo-Mandaic see Mutzafi 2014: 17-22.

(5.) A few such phrases are adduced in Macuch 1965b: 486-87.

(6.) As well as ke l-atyc 'that I come' ([section] 14), qeganyc 'I will sleep' ([section] 17), la qesefc 'I'm not embarrassed' ([section] 18), qebc zawnc 'I want to buy' ([section] 19), qenesc, 'I'm coughing' ([section] 22), qehawyc 'I will be' ([section] 26).

(7.) And la qhazyona 'I don't see her' ([section] 15).

(8.) See the Khor.-NM 1sg.c. imperfective form CaCeCnc and its shorter contextual form CaCeC in Haberl 2009: 180 (for verbal contextual forms see ibid. 94).

(9.) See Morgenstern 2011: 120-21, and Morgenstem, forthcoming, n. 9.

(10.) For these and further forms see Noldeke 1875: 231; and for a full diachronic account of the Ahvaz-NM 1sg.f. imperfective forms and their affinity to CM and JBA antecedents see Mutzafi 2015: 326-29.

(11.) In Ahvaz-NM the erstwhile 3sg.m. imperfective form, e.g., qcmer 'he says', is used also as an alternant of the 3sg.f. one, hence qcmrc ~ qcmer 'she says'--see n. 50 below.

(12.) A couple of obvious slips of the tongue, however, were omitted from the text below.

(13.) mili is in essence an apocopated contextual alternant of mityc 'coming; a visit' (CM mitia 'coming, to come'), a cognate of Turoyo matyo 'coming'. For mityc ~ miti cf. lilyc ~ lili 'night' below, [section] 7. In contemporary Ahvaz-NM apocopated forms such as miti (< *mity) are gaining dominance and the full forms are losing ground and becoming obsolescent (see Mutzafi 2014: 15). The present text demonstrates this fact very well, having an overwhelming proportion of short forms, including in pausal position (e.g., [section] 8 gyet 'summer' rather than gyeto), and only a handful of full forms.

(14.) The deontic use of sewcq (CM sbuq), a 2sg.m. imperative form of swq 'to leave, let, allow', is a calque on local Ar. xalli 'let', whence the more common NM parallel xalli ~ xal (see example in Macuch 1993: 407, s.v. xal).

(15.) The full form pom-wcwc 'doorstep, doorway' is a compound of pom, a construct of pommc 'mouth' (CM puma 'mouth, opening') and wcwc 'door' (CM baba)--cf. NENA parallels such as Dobe pemma-tara and Jewish Urmi pen-tara, both 'doorstep, doorway'.

(16.) NM bgs, perfective beges, imperfective bcges 'to stop, stand, wait' is an etymological enigma. Perhaps it would be possible to relate it to CM kbs (< *qbs) 'be bound' (for this and other possible meanings see Drower and Macuch 1963: 202b) through metathesis, voicing of *k [x], and semantic changes.

(17.) For greetings with the words (a)suta and (a)swctc, and for nehwilxcn, nehwilex as CM imperfective forms, see Mutzafi 2014: 171-72.

(18.) Pace Macuch (1965a: 11, 24/10; 1989: 110/94), the NM reflex of the CM basmala b-Suma d-hiia 'in the name of Life' is, according to my informants, b-esmi d-heyyi with d- rather than with t-.

(19.) The 2sg.f. imperative dus 'enter!' stems from *dusi < *dosi--see Mutzafi 2015: 333.

(20.) The 3sg.m. imperfective form of ?hw 'to give' is chew 'he may give', qchew 'he gives'. When bound to object suffixes the basic form is reduced to hew- as follows: *chewl- > *ahewl- > hewl-, thus hewlex 'may he give you (sg.f.)'.

(21.) heyyi 'Life' corresponds to CM hiia, in full hiia rbia 'the Great Life', which is a primary Mandaean light-being (lightworld being)--see Drower 1937: xxi, Buckley 2002: 36.

(22.) xotscw is used as part of a response to pyen tcw 'good evening' or sobah tcw 'good morning,' viz., pyen/ sobah tcw, xotscw elcwex 'good evening/morning and greetings to you', and also to express congratulations, e.g., to a married couple (as in Macuch 1993: 314/1906). It is in all likelihood of Iranian origin (cf. ibid. 407).

(23.) 'Welcome' is expressed by ehyet etet for a male, ehyet etet for a female, and ehyit eti for several people. The first verb is a perfective etpe'el of hyy 'to live' and the second is a perfective pe'al of ?ty 'to come', hence, originally, 'you lived, you came'.

(24.) kemm-, followed by a copula, is the bound alternant of unbound kemmc--kem 'how?' corresponding to CM kma 'how? how much? how long?' (cf. NENA dialects kma, komma, kommd 'how much?').

(25.) Macuch asserts that the etymology of farwch 'thanks' is Pers. far, farr 'beauty' and the interjection wah 'wonderful! excellent!' (Macuch 1989: 248 and see Steingass 1892: 911a, 1454a), whereas Haberl (2009: 317) suggests that farwch is possibly related to the CM personal name paruk < Pers. farrox 'fortunate' or to Ar. farah 'joy'. The origin of farwch remains, however, highly uncertain.

(26.) bassim/basim hcwit as an expression of gratitude literally denotes 'may you be healthy'--see Mutzafi 2014: 119-20. It is regularly used as a response to kemm-iyct 'how are you?'

(27.) The infinitive and verbal noun of hzy is hezc <*hezcyc < *hzaya. Erstwhile y is preserved when a suffix is attached, as in hezcyex 'seeing you (sg.f.)', and likewise in other III-y verbs such as mehc 'to hit, hitting; a blow', mehcyu 'hitting them; their blow', pl. mehaycn(c) 'blows'.

(28.) The 1sg. perfective of htr 'rejoice' in etpe'el has the alternants ehetrit ~ ehtert. The first is older and ends in the historical 1sg. ending -it, whereas the second is an innovation. Cf. helfit ~ heleft 'I passed by, crossed', dehlit ~ dehelt 'I feared', gexxit (!) ~ gehext 'I laughed'. For a diachronic account of these alternants see Mutzafi 2015: 323.

(29.) messe, a reflex of *mesiay (CM misai) 'middle of', survives in NM only in messe gyet(c) 'midsummer, hottest part of summer' and messe setwc ~ messe setew 'midwinter, coldest part of winter'.

(30.) qemtahlef is a 3sg.m. imperfective ettap'al of hlf 'to pass, pass by, cross, change' (with the indicative prefix qe-). The *a > e in ettap'al forms such as etahlef'it changed (int.)', qomtahlef 'it changes/will change (int.)' appears to have emerged by analogy with the e of parallel ap'el verbs such as ahlef'he changed (tr.)', qemahlef 'he changes/ will change (tr.)'.

(31.) < messi 'cold' (~ mesi, passive part. of msy 'to be cold', CM msa) + comparative Iranian suffix -tar, cf. hamimtar 'hotter' immediately below, and likewise samintar 'fatter', semixtar 'denser', kerehewtar 'faster', etc. Note also messi 'cold' as an adjective vs. messi ([section] 22) 'cold' as a noun related to illness.

(32.) < *law (CM lau) < *la hu 'he is not'--see Mutzafi 2014: 43.

(33.) The copula exti 'he is' stems from *?itih (cf. CM aith 'ditto') and is an example of the NM shift *it > *iyt > *ict > ext, as also in *mitat > mextat 'she died' ([section] 27 below)--see Mutzafi 2014: 93.

(34.) One would expect c settc 'this year' rather than c sette with a final vowel otherwise known only as a genitive marker (< Iranian ezafe) confined to certain fixed phrases and compounds (e.g., derk-e naher 'the bank of the river' in [section] 19 below, and [section] 23 falge-lili 'midnight', lit., 'half-of-night'). The informant uses this phrase consistently, and see also c sette in Macuch 1993: 214/1198.

(35.) destct--full form destctc, plural of destc 'land, ground, earth, field' (CM dista < Iranian).

(36.) bextar 'better' is closely related to Khor.-NM behtar 'id.' < Pers. 'ditto' (Haberl 2009: 307). The fortition of h to x in Ahvaz might be by partial assimilation to the following t.

(37.) qametwer 'it breaks (int.)' is a 3sg.m. etpe'el imperfective form of twr 'to break'. The parallel perfective form is etwer (cf. CM 'tbar) 'it broke (int.)'.

(38.) NM distinguishes between rehew qemchi 'the wind blows (lit., hits)' and qemnassem 'it is breezy', an impersonal imperfective 3sg.m. verb. The etymology of the latter might be either 1) related to nesam 'he breathed', qencsem 'he breathes', or 2) unattested pre-modeen Mandaic *nsb, a cognate of nsb 'to blow' (of wind) in JBA, Syriac, and some other Classical Aramaic languages (for final b [b] > m cf. tub > NM tom 'until; more', ytb > late Mandaic ytm [ypn] > NM yhm 'to sit').

(39.) The presentative particle hen occurs only before imperative forms of dry 'to take' and both words are uttered as one prosodic unit, as in [hendere]. For further textual examples see Macuch 1989: 140/683 hen dere, ibid. 138/655, and Macuch 1993: 358/2274 hen dart (with the 3sg.m. imperative).

(40.) kem-ye 'how is he?' alternates with kemm-iye. Likewise: kem-yct ~ ([section] 4) kemm-iyct 'how are you (sg.)?', and with epenthesis: kem-ncn ~ ([section] 11) kemm-encn 'how are they?' (see n. 42 below).

(41.) tercsc go appelap 'to send regards to', as in terus go appe/ap bellex 'send regards to your husband', consists of the verb trs, followed by go 'in' and appe/ap 'face of'. The Aramaic etymon trs had the basic meanings 'to set right, direct straight' (e.g., in CM, Syriac), and an echo of these meanings appears to be heard in tercsc go appe/ ap, assuming its earlier meaning was 'to be nice in the face of (viz., to) someone', whence 'to convey nice words to someone'.

(42.) The basic 3pl. enclitic copula is -ncn, as in Sebir-ncn 'they are well' immediately below. It has an allomorph -encn, with epenthetic e following a consonant cluster, as in kemm-encn 'how are they?' Note that the same form -ncn functions as the 1sg. enclitic copula as well, hence sebir-ncn can also mean 'I (m.) am well', and has likewise an allomorph -encn, as in sabert-encn 'I (f.) am well' (see [section] 5 above).

(43.) sebir-ncn 'they are well' alternates with sebiren-ncn. Thus the sg.m. form sebir (< *sappir. CM sapir) is often used for the plural as well, alongside the pl.c. form sehiren, which reflects the old pl.m. *sappirin. See also [section] 10 above sabir-ye 'he is well', and n. 48 below.

(44.) Lit., 'may God leave them', possibly from *'may God leave them alive'.

(45.) The present progressive is expressed by a construction of passive part, of yhm 'to sit' + enclitic copula followed by a present form (imperfective with a qe- prefix), which is a calque on the local Arabic construction of active part, of gid 'to sit' + present (see Mutzafi 2015: 334-35). Thus according to a bilingual NM and Khuzestani Arabic speaker the local Arabic parallel of yehim-i qahexcle l-hassa go kercye would be ga[??]de thegg gofaha b-rili.

(46.) qebi ~ rarely (and attested in Macuch 1989: 106/14) qebiyc 'she wants' are 3sg.f. imperfective forms of ?by 'to want' <* biy (with the indicative prefix qe-).

(47.) gcli, an indefinite form (gcl-i) of gclc 'dung beetle', corresponds to CM gala 'tortoise' (see Mutzafi 2014: 204).

(48.) The passive part, forms of kfn 'be hungry' are sg.m. kefen, sg.f. kefin ~ kefinc, pl.c. kefinen ~ kefen. These hark back to the status absolutus forms sg.m. *kefin, sg.f. *kefina (CM kpina), and pl.m. *kefinin. There is also a 1sg.f. allomorph kefnc--see the following note.

(49.) The sg.f. passive part, has an allomorph CeCCc bound to the 1sg.f. copula, as in kefnc-ncn 'I'm hungry', neg. lexte kafnc 'I'm not hungry', yehmc-ncn 'I'm seated, sitting', neg. lexte yehmc. This allomorph evolved from the inherited sg.f. kefinc (<*kepina), yehimc (<*yetiba) by analogy with 1sg.f. imperfective forms such as qekafnc 'I become hungry', qeyahmc 'I sit down'.

(50.) The verb qcti, in origin a 3sg.m. form, may denote 'he comes/will come' or 'she comes/will come'. Likewise: tcri 'he/she may close', pcres 'he/she may cover'. Unlike Khor.-NM, which exhibits only erstwhile 3sg.f. imperfective forms, e.g., tcryc 'she may close', pcrsc 'she may cover' (and see the paradigms in Haberl 2009: 180, 192), in Ahvaz-NM these erstwhile forms alternate with the 3sg.m. and are very rare indeed in the III-y class (in other verb classes 3sg.f. forms such as cxlc ([section] 13) 'she may eat', disc 'she may enter' are still quite common, alongside 3sg.m. parallels such as cxel and dcyes). See further n. 11 above and Mutzafi 2015: 331-33.

(51.) The imperative forms of ?ty 'to come' are sg.m. dyeli, sg.f. dyete, pl.c. dyetcn. These stem from a fusion of 1) the particle de- 'come on!', as in de-zemor 'come on, sing!', which has an allomorph d- before a vowel as in d-ezgi 'go already!', and 2) erstwhile *eti, *ete, *etcn 'come!'. The result was *deti, etc. The latter was expanded with an excrescent onglide y before a stressed e, as also, e.g., in byetc 'house, home' (CM baita) and pyenc 'evening' (CM paina).

(52.) < indicative particle *qa + *?ibbey (< *?it bay) 'there is in me'--see Mutzafi 2014: 55-57, and cf. the irrealis (modal) form yimbex (< *?ibbex < *?it bek) 'you (sg.f.) might be able' in [section] 29 below. Consider also laqiiuba (apparently la-qyubba) 'she cannot' in a seventeenth-century Mandaic colophon recently discovered by Prof. Matthew Morgenstern (p.c.).

(53.) jihlc 'children' is the pl. (with c < Persian pl. suffix -ahc) of jihel 'male child, baby' (< local Ar. jahil 'ignorant, male child, baby'), encroaching on genuine Aramaic ycnqcnc, ycnqcn ([section] 11), sg. ycnqc, ycnq.

(54.) < *qazlennin, ?zl 'to go'--see Morgenstern 2010: 519-23, Mutzafi 2014: 32.

(55.) -e is the Iranian genitive marker--see n. 34 above.

(56.) Referring to the Nepean River.

(57.) < indicative prefix qe- + pseudo-verb ycd- (< *yd?'to know') + 1sg.m. pronominal suffix -e, apparently on the model of Pers. yad [ycd] 'memory' (see Mutzafi 2010: 152).

(58.) doktor qehazycni is lit., 'doctor, I see him', viz., 'I'm seeing the doctor", and cf. doktor qehazyc (without an object suffix) 'I'm seeing a doctor'.

(59.) me-gehi 'early,' rarely mo-gehyc, comprises the preposition me- 'from' and gehyc 'early', usually apocopated as gehi (cf. sehyc, sehi 'thirst', heryc, heri 'excrement'). The word gehyc is in all likelihood related to CM gha 'to (utter a) cry, make a convulsive sound or sudden noise, sob', a cognate of Syriac giy, giy, 'to low, cry out'. It follows that me-gehi is originally 'from the call', referring to the call of the muezzin at dawn. Consider Ahvaz-NM bcnge-ruz 'early morning', clearly from Iranian bcng 'call, shout', e 'genitive marker', and ruz 'day', viz. 'call of [the muezzin early in the] day' (pace Macuch 1989: 205), as well as Sorani Kurdish mela-bangan 'time of call to first prayer of day; early morning', lit., 'mulla's call' (Wahby and Edmonds 1966: 7a, s.v. bang, 89b, s.v. mela). Note also that the very same NM word gehyc denotes 'vomit' and is related to NM ghy (< *giy) 'to vomit, retch' < *'make a sound of retching' (see Mutzafi 2014: 106, 107).

(60.) A variant of ettirit is the more innovative form ettert, regularly used by the informant Sam--cf. ehetrit ~ ehtert 'I rejoiced' above, [section] 5, and see also n. 28 above.

(61.) In a previously recorded version the informant said rise qekcyew hewc.

(62.) < *mictat < *miytat < *mitat--see n. 33 above.

(63.) < *'may relief/revival reach her'. The noun erwchc, restricted to expressions of condolences and in collocation with names of deceased persons (e.g., ahe, erwchc matili 'my late brother'), corresponds to CM ruaha 'relief, solace, recovery, revival'.

(64.) The compound ris-bassim, full form ris-bassimc comprises ris 'head of' and bassimc 'healthy', and may well be a calque on some Iranian (Luri?) parallel--consider Kurmanji serxwesi 'condolences' (Chyet 2003: 543b) < ser 'head' +xwesi 'pleasantness, health'.

(65.) In an earlier recorded version the informant said agar qeyimbex.

(66.) The full form qamyetc 'noon' evolved from earlier Ahvaz-NM qametc (see Macuch 1965b: 206; for the onglide y see n. 51 above). The direct antecedent of this word is attested in literary Mandaic as qamaita 'noon' (ibid. n. 146). The ultimate etymon is uncertain (possibly qadmaita 'first' > *'early morning' [cf. CM qadumia 'ditto'] > qamaita *'morning' > 'noon').

(67.) mesetyc l-cehi 'drinking tea' is with an unexpected full form mesetyc rather than the annexation form maseti (<*masety), as indeed immediately below in [section] 31 meseti al-cehi.

(68.) Upon hearing the recording the informant corrected cmer 'she would say' to qcmer 'she says'. For the frequent use of erstwhile 3sg.m. imperfective forms instead of 3sg.f. ones such as qcmrc 'she says', see notes 11 and 50 above.
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Author:Mutzafi, Hezy
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Apr 1, 2016
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