The doings of American philologasters are, in truth, a curious study.

Progress Report 5

The final chapter of the tractate on Yoshamin is now available at the project website.

This chapter consists entirely of Yoshamin speaking in the first person, lamenting his fate and his estrangement from his family. In his laments, he seems to accept some responsibility for his actions, describing himself (p. 39, lns. 8-9) as,

uai dilia ḏpumai ašplan

ulišanai hualia ridpa

Woe is me, whose mouth brought him down,

and whose tongue was an affliction to him.

On the whole, there are some interesting features of the language of this chapter as well, that suggest that it may be relatively late.  In p. 39, lns. 6-7, we find the modern form abadiun “they did” in the phrase,

mn kulhun eutria ḏabadiun husrana

ana šilmun husrana labdit

Among all the aeons that did wrong,

‎‎they repaid me with the wrong [that] I did not do.

The -iun ending, which is characteristic of Neo-Mandaic, but rare in Classical Mandaic texts (bare 3rd plural forms typically being indistinguishable from singular forms). That having been said, another such form appears on the following page, p. 40, lns. 1-2,

ala kulhun niṭubiata ḏhualia ldilia

kulhin he kulhin rgazian elai brugza rba

Woe to me, all of the consorts that I had,

all of them, yes all of them are greatly enraged with me!

The form rgazian has an extremely rare 3rd feminine plural morpheme, -ian.  While this morpheme is not typical of the Neo-Mandaic dialect of Khorramshahr, Macuch claims to have recorded some examples in the speech of his informants from Ahvāz. Finally, Lidzbarski discerns an Arabic loanword on p. 39, ln. 10:

besura autbun radaia qrun

They clapped me in irons, called me a “wanderer” […]

In a footnote to his translation, he acknowledges that radaia “wanderer” is occasionally a synonym for “planet,” and that it appears elsewhere in this text (p. 150, ln. 9), but argues that Yoshamin could not be a “wanderer” as he has been clapped in irons (literally, “settled down in a bond”). He translates it as Heruntergekommen “run down” and suggests that the word might actually be derived from Arabic رد radin from the root meaning “to perish” or “be destroyed.”

Given that Yoshamin elsewhere (p. 38, ln. 13) claims that he is being called “the Eighth” (as in, the eighth planet, the demonic equivalent of being the fifth Beatle), and the text is otherwise free from Arabic loans, I can’t endorse this interpretation.


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