Writing in a sacred tongue: inter-aramaic alloglottography

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Alloglottography, the act of using one written language for the purpose of writing another one in whole or in part was commonplace in the ancient Near East. While in most cases the heterogeneity of the language written and the language underlying it is self-evident, the fact that it is not uncommon within heterogeneous linguistic contexts suggests that similar practices might have obtained among and between languages conventionally construed as homogeneous. This paper will present evidence for this phenomenon from the sacred scriptures of the Mandaean religious community of Iraq and Iran, in the form of by-forms, “archaisms,” and hypercorrect forms that appear to reflect ad hoc exceptions to well-attested sound rules in Mandaic and other cognate forms of Aramaic, in pursuit of a more comprehensive and comprehensible understanding of the phenomenon of Aramaic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-178
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


  • alloglottography
  • aramaic
  • Mandaic
  • orthography
  • prenasalization


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