bi-hī, bi-him . . . fī-hu? Pronominal Suffix Harmonization Diversity in Some Vocalized Christian Arabic Gospel Manuscripts

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Phillip W. Stokes



This article attempts a foray into the linguistic study of vocalization traditions in Christian Arabic by examining the patterns of 3rd person pronominal suffix harmonization in some vocalized Christian Arabic gospel manuscripts. In normative Classical Arabic, the 3rd person suffixes harmonized with a preceding -i, -, or -ay. However, early grammarians documented a much greater diversity of patterns. I document the patterns of nine vocalized Christian Gospel manuscripts, and show that several patterns are attested, including the normative Classical Arabic pattern, that parallel those attested in the early grammarian and Quran reading traditions. I argue that Christians were clearly aware of, and participants in, a range of performative linguistic traditions, and retain them when elsewhere they were marginalized or lost. I conclude by pushing both for more vigorous study of this vocalized layer of Christian Arabic tradition and reframing the context within which the study of Christian Arabic is undertaken.

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