A Grammar of the Christian Neo-Aramaic Dialect of Diyana-Zariwaw.

Author:Mengozzi, Alessandro
Position:Book review

A Grammar of the Christian Neo-Aramaic Dialect of Diyana-Zariwaw. By LIDIA NAPIORKOWSKA. Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics, vol. 81. Leiden: BRILL, 2015. Pp. xiv + 600. $234, [euro]181.

This book demonstrates that Neo-Aramaic dialectology is a mature field of investigation, covering a wide range of dialectal variation, that is firmly rooted in and makes an original contribution to Semitic and general linguistics. It is part of the Brill series "Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics," which hosts a number of important contributions to the field, such as the four-volume The Neo-Aramaic Dialect of the Assyrian Christians of Urmi by Geoffrey Khan (vol. 86, 2016), Comparative Lexical Studies in Neo-Mandaic by Hezy Mutzafi (vol. 73, 2014), The Jewish Neo-Aramaic Dialect of Amedya by Jared Greenblatt (vol. 61, 2010), The Jewish Neo-Aramaic Dialect of Challa by Steven E. Fassberg (vol. 54, 2009), The Jewish Neo-Aramaic Dialect of Sulemaniyya and Halabja by Geoffrey Khan (vol. 44, 2004), and The Neo-Aramaic Dialect of Qaraqosh by Geoffrey Khan (vol. 36, 2002).

The descriptive format is that of the Cambridge school of Neo-Aramaic studies led by Geoffrey Khan. In comparison with other works from the same research team, however, the language description is interspersed with much more precise and instructive references to classics of general and typological linguistics, especially of the 1970s to 1980s, such as Bybee, Comrie, Givon, Ladefoged, and Lyons. Based on the author's Ph.D dissertation, the book under review contains a detailed description of the dialect on the three main levels of linguistic analysis (phonology, morphology, and syntax), a rich corpus in phonological transcription and English translation, and an Aramaic-English and English-Aramaic glossary, in which verbs are listed separately from other parts of speech. An impressive bibliography and two indexes complete the volume. A geographical map would have probably proved more useful to the reader than the index of geographical names.

The grammar describes the dialect(s) of Christian Assyrians of the town Diyana (or Diana), located to the north of the better-known Rawandiz and today belonging to the Erbil Governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan. Distinct dialectal features of speakers whose ancestors migrated to Diyana from the more northern villages of Zariwaw, Riccawa, and Seru or western Harir are also taken into consideration. Therefore, the grammar contributes "data of a...

To continue reading