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Nicht nur mit Engelszungen: Beitrage zur semitischen Dialektologie--Festschrift fur Werner Arnold zum 60. Geburtstag.

Nicht nur mit Engelszungen: Beitrage zur semitischen Dialektologie--Festschrift fur Werner Arnold zum 60. Geburtstag. Edited by Renaud Kuty; Ulrich Seeger; and Shabo Talay. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2013. Pp. xx + 412. 118 [euro].

The honorand of this Festschrift, Werner Arnold, is justly lauded as a pioneer in several fields. He is primarily known for his efforts to document living Semitic languages, and this is reflected in the contributions to the volume, some twenty-seven of which (out of a total of forty-one) concern spoken, nonstandard, and still-living languages, rather than the written, standardized, and often dead languages that are the customary stock in trade of the Semitist. He began his own fieldwork in the mid-1980s, initially in Bahrain and subsequently in the Anti-Lebanon Mountains of Syria, long before the current vogue of "language documentation" was stimulated by the impending extinction of most of the world's languages. There were certainly other scholars conducting fieldwork in Neo-Aramaic in the 1980s and even long before, but Werner Arnold can lay claim to having thoroughly documented an entire branch of the Neo-Aramaic language family, Western Neo-Aramaic, according to contemporary linguistic standards.

Though not the subject of the present volume, his contributions to the digital humanities are no less pioneering and foundational. Arnold established SemArch (, an online, open access repository of digital audio documents from a wide array of living Semitic languages, in 2001, at which time the term "digital humanities" had yet to be coined and the emerging discipline was still known as "humanistic computing." Scholars of the Semitic languages know SemArch to be a unique resource for the study of these languages, and fieldworkers know it to be the premier archive in which to deposit the results of our own fieldwork, so that they will be maintained and disseminated to the widest possible audience.

Despite the genuinely "cutting edge" nature of Arnold's own contributions, the contributions to his Festschrift are at first glance unabashedly traditional--they draw upon philology, epigraphy, dialectology, and other forms of historical and comparative linguistics, subjects that are by and large now completely absent from the departments of linguistics found in universities throughout North America, Australia, East Asia, and increasingly the rest of the world. This is evinced by the list of editors, contributors, and peer reviewers for the volume, who are almost exclusively Europeans or Israelis. Our linguist colleagues in the United States will likely consider the contributions to be somewhat old-fashioned and perhaps even "theoretically naive."

The truth is that these contributions reflect a kind of scholarly counter-culture, which evolved organically in the Saussurean tradition and did not participate in the so-called "Chomskyan revolution" (thus explaining its increasing marginalization from the mainstream of linguistics). I do not wish to imply in any way that this continental tradition of linguistics is reactionary, as it has participated in subsequent, no less revolutionary developments, aptly demonstrated by the career of the honorand. Therefore, even when they do not necessarily pertain to the disciplinary "mainstream" of linguistics, they are nonetheless sophisticated and in fact construct their analyses upon a solid empirically derived foundation without sacrificing theoretical sophistication.

Thus we find within this volume grammar sketches of heretofore poorly documented languages and new sample texts from the same (Aguade, "Zum arabischen Dialekt von Settat," pp. 1-6; Behnstedt, "Anmerkungen zum Arabischen von Darfur," pp. 19-24; Bettini, "Traditions et textes des Tayy," pp. 25-36; Coghill, "Neo-Aramaic dialect of Peshabur," pp. 37-48; Jastrow, "Gabriel Laniado," pp. 151-60; Lahdo, "A New Turoyo text from Kfarze," pp. 207-14; Maraqten, "Volksriten der 'Istiqa' in Palastina," pp. 234-60; Prochazka, "Two Texts in the Arabic Dialect of the Island of Arwad," pp. 275-88; Ritt-Benmimoun, "Ein Text im arabischen Beduinendialekt von Bil-X[bar.e]r," pp. 289-300; Seeger, "Zum Verhaltnis der zentralasiatischen arabischen Dialekte," pp. 313-22; and Shachmon, "'ala fuk rosi," pp. 323-32).

Even those contributions that do not introduce new texts often offer invaluable wordlists and other lexicographic resources (Corriente, "Iranian Lexical Stock," pp. 49-58; Edzard, "Zu einer Jibbalivergleichendsemitischen Wortliste," pp. 87-94; Gazsi, "Arabic Wind Terminology on Iran's Gulf Coast," pp. 101-8; Halayqa, "Traditional Water Facilities in the Palestinian Colloquial," pp. 125--34; and Mutzafi, "Some Lexical Niceties of the Neo-Aramaic Dialect Cluster of Tyare," pp. 245-52).

In terms of the theoretical contributions, rather than primarily descriptive ones, contact linguistics is a prevailing theme, particularly between Arabic, Aramaic, and Hebrew, or inter-dialectally within these languages (Basal, "fi'l manqui and maf'ul macahu," pp. 7-18; Corriente, "Iranian Lexical Stock," pp. 49-58; Hopkins, "On the Etymology of Arabic bandUq," pp. 145-50; Kapeliuk, "A Contrastive Analysis," pp. 161-70; Nebe, "Zur hebraischen Rechtssprache," pp. 253-64; Odisho, "Some Primary Sources of Accent Generation," pp. 265-74; Rosenhouse, "Multilingualism in the Middle East," pp. 301-12; Stadel, "Aspekte der Sprachgeschichte des Neuwestaramaischen," pp. 333-41; Talay, "Gedanken zum aramaisch-arabischen Sprachkontakt," pp. 343-42; and Waltisberg, "Turoyo und Arabisch," pp. 353-64).

One contribution (Heselwood, Watson, al-Azraqi, and Naim, "Lateral Reflexes of Proto-Semitic *d and *d" pp. 135-44) stands out for its innovative use of fieldwork and technology to address a thorny historical problem, namely the historical articulation of two phonemes in Proto-Semitic and its daughter languages, such as Arabic and the Modern South Arabian languages.

Despite all the impressive scholarship assembled within, the most striking thing about this volume is assuredly its frontispiece, on which is depicted a portrait of the cunning linguist as a young man. Although the photo is undated, a provenance sometime in the late 1970s is almost certain.


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Author:Haberl, Charles G.
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2016
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