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Studies in Near Eastern Culture and History in Memory of Ernest T. Abdel-Massih.

The eighteen studies in this volume dedicated to Ernest Abdel-Massih, the late Professor of Arabic at the University of Michigan, are about evenly divided between Arabic and other fields. The contributions are tied together only in that their authors are colleagues from the Department of Near Eastern Studies, or former students.

In "Selections from Sibawayhi," James A. Bellamy offers translations from the grammarian's Kitab that illustrate analogical principles and other features particular to Sibawayhi's school. Mary M. Levy organizes "Rules for Forming Noun Plurals in Modern Standard Arabic," making a valiant but doubtful effort to establish a system to teach especially the broken plural patterns. Another article with a pedagogical theme is Edna Amir Coffin's "Teaching Hebrew of the Communications Media: Crosscultural Considerations." Ernest N. McCarus studies a phenomenon in colloquial Arabic in "A Case of Semantic Reconstruction: The Egyptian Arabic Verbal Prefix Bi-." Loraine K. Obler considers the spoken forms of one word and posits a theory about change in "Reflexes of Classical Arabic say un 'thing' in the Modern Dialects: Synthetic Forms in Language Change." In "The Relation between al-Jurjani and Modern Western Linguists," Raji M. Rammuny claims that al-Jurjani's theory of nazm anticipates much of modern linguistic thought. An interesting memoir by Nasir al-Din Nashashibi going back to the 1940s and earlier is the subject of a translation by Trevor le Gassick in "A Palestinian Journalist Looks Back." Finally--for the Arabic contributions--in "Baqillani's Critique of Imru Al-Qays," Mustansir Mir shows that al-Baqillani's analysis of the poet's qasida not only does not stand up to scrutiny, but even worse, if his criticisms were valid, they would be applicable to the Qur'an as well--a notion that would certainly horrify al-Baqillani, especially since his critique is meant as a vindication of the doctrine of the Qur'an's inimitability.

There are contributions on other aspects of Islamic history and culture. Andrew S. Ehrenkreuz analyzes some extremely rare dinar specimens in "The Year 414/1023-4 in the Commercial Life of Zawilah," to show how they constitute evidence for important commercial activity in a remote Libyan caravan trade center. The article is a model of reasoning from numismatic evidence. In "Islamic Rhetoric and the Persian Historians 1100-1300 A.D.," K. Allin Luther discusses the origins and meaning of the highly ornate "figured" style. In contrast, writing for a non-elite audience is the subject of the useful contribution by J. Stewart-Robinson, "A Neglected Ottoman Poem: The Sehrengiz," concerning poetry dedicated to boys of certain towns. Gernot L. Windfuhr offers some abstract reflections (with diagrams) in "A Propositional Analysis on Literary Theory Applied to Middle Eastern Genres."

Articles on the ancient Near East are as follows: "The Flying Scroll in Zechariah 5:1-4," by David Noel Freedman; "Brief Observations on the Syntax of RS 1957.702," by Charles Kramahlkov; "Toward a Method for Historical Lexicography of Semitic Languages," by George E. Mendenhall; "The Ammonite Onomasticon: Syntactic and Morphological Considerations," by M. O'Connor; "Ruth, Tamar and Levirate Marriage," by Gene M. Schramm. We leave until last an article that fits none of the above categories by Louis L. Orlin, "Having a Dialogue with a Work of History: A Checklist for Critical Examination and Evaluation."
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Author:Wakin, Jeanette
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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