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One tends to distinguish between two or more linguistic systems with a great deal of overlapping between the systems e.

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As such, this approach provides for one linguistic system, in which variation follows specific and orderly rules. Such rules may be either obligatory or optional, and are regulated by linguistic and by extralinguistic usually sociolinguistic factors. It is this latter method that has been preferred and adopted by dialectologists and sociolinguists, since variability has gained recognition as an inherent structural feature of language per se Decamp ; Bailey ; Labov ; Petyt chapters 5 and 8; Chambers and Trudgill chapter 9; Chambers, Trudgill and Schilling-Estes in various chapters.

Two main objections have been raised against postulating more than one system. One is in the domain of the community. Here it would require either attributing to each idiolect its own distinct system or postulating two or three systems within the community with many points of interference and overlapping between them, and a lot of variation within each. The second objection is relevant to the domain of the individual, i.

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Here we would have to posit too many switches from system to system within a single discourse. Both objections will prove valid for the linguistic description of the El-Amarna letters from Canaan, since there is variation not only between the different scribes, but also within the linguist output of each scribe.

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Therefore, I would like to suggest the second approach for their study. I suggest that Canaano-Akkadian be treated as a single linguistic system consisting of lectal varieties stretching between the extreme of the clear cases of the mixed language of the Canaanite letters, and the opposite extreme of lects closer to standard Peripheral Akkadian as used by some Canaanite scribes.

This methodology will not only help us in our endeavor to understand the essence and the spirit of this language as it was perceived by the scribes themselves, but will also allow us to contextualize the variety of Akkadianisms properly, viz. It must be stressed: this language, with all its variants, did serve as an accepted — and most probably, learned — means of communication, so that it must have had a basic structural system that was relatively solid. As such, variation must be admitted into the description of this system.

This concept of a single system will also help us to account for Akkadianisms within a single letter, numerous as they may be, and to distinguish them from clear cases of apparent code switching cf.

Akkadianisms that regularly appear in the flow of the text should be described according to rules that govern them. If some of the Akkadianisms are to be proven haphazard or when an irregular code switching occurs, these may be considered as calques of or insertions from a different linguistic system. I believe that a great majority of Akkadianisms would prove to be structurally determined. That is, occurrences of forms that are closely related to or identical with the analogous forms of standard Akkadian can be determined and anticipated by rules.

In the following sections, I will deal with several types of variation, the rules that govern them, and the triggers for variant forms. Its manifestations can be observed mainly as dialectal or idiolectal peculiarities. Intra-systemic variation usually manifests itself by differences among individual texts or groups of texts. There are, however, notable instances in which variation will be found within one and the same text. Apparent cases of switching towards the Akkadian superstratum also belong to this kind of variation.

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It is the task of the student of Canaano-Akkadian to find out whether these switches are structural, and if they are — to describe the circumstances under which they tend to appear in each case. Yet already at this point I would like to illustrate some types of triggers for variation.

Ebeling in Knudtzon II: ; cf. Rainey ; II: This extralinguistic trigger that brings about the use of an Akkadian form in an otherwise mixed environment is optional or lect-dependent. That is, whereas the rule may determine the conditions for the use of a form comprised of purely Akkadian material, the form itself may vary and be — in the examples given — one of the various forms cited. EA Here the subject is Ribhaddi rather than the pharaoh, and therefore the surfacing form is the one typical of the mixed language.

This lack of the Canaanite- 21 Note further the absence of the subjunctive, typical of these texts. In such cases, we might also posit a lexical trigger, i.


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These questions need, however, much further research. This will be done in order to observe some of the most salient features of its variational aspects. The largest subcorpus of letters within the Amarna correspondence is the group of letters from Byblos. The great majority of the Byblos letters were sent on behalf of a single ruler, Ribhaddi. With regard to syntax and morphosyntax, this is generally so. This is why Moran was able to discover in his doctoral dissertation a the systematic use of the NWS modus morphemes in these letters, and thus open a new era in the research and understanding of the language of the Canaanite Amarna tablets.

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Still, a survey of the verbal forms in these letters reveals significant structural variation throughout, especially in the morphological domain. The reason for this difference in behavior between individual domains of language seems clear. Syntax is most vulnerable to contact situations. Unconscious syntactic interference of the substrate language may act on any syntactic feature of the language in use.

The latter may, in fact, manifest all or almost all of the syntactic features of the substrate language; in other words, the resulting language can be similar or identical to the substrate language in its syntactic system. Therefore, when there is strong linguistic interference between two languages, much of the original morphology may be resistant to change, and if change occurs, morphology may manifest the most significant variation.

This is why I have chosen to deal here with a morphological trait. There is fluctuation between forms beginning with a- and forms beginning with i. This is, of course, a feature of standard Akkadian. Several letters, however, have an initial i in all 1SG prefix-conjugation forms. As is the case with these letters, this initial i appears not only in the 1SG forms, but throughout the whole verbal paradigm.

Therefore, this i must be interpreted not as the 1SG person prefix, but as an integral a part of the verbal stem in fact, a part of the verbal pattern to which consonantal person morphemes, borrowed from NWS, are prefixed. A similar verbal inflection is a feature of some of the Byblos letters as well. It may well be that other Byblos letters also belong to this group, but lack of 1SG forms or ambiguous evidence makes it impossible for us to draw any further conclusions regarding this matter.

We shall return to this question further below. Consider, e. In some cases there is no vowel following the prefix, e. For a sound structural analysis of the verb in classical Arabic, see Schramm Unfortunately, Rainey, although he understands well the paradigmatic relationship between the various forms II: and passim , still lists the Canaano-Akkadian person prefixes as if they were syllabic, conforming to their Akkadian counterparts.

In the following section, I will investigate the circumstances under which such forms may occur. Either phonological or morphophonological rules will determine which of the 1SG verbal forms in these letters will have i- instead of the original systemic a- as its first segment. In either case, the prefix would not be overtly expressed, and only the stem will surface. Therefore, as in the case above, I tend to posit morphophonological rules to account for this form too. The attraction of an initial i may also be due to the infixed -t- of the verbal form. It may well be that there existed a general tendency of verbal -t- forms to attract an initial i to their stem.

This, however, needs further research. Let us have a close look at these formations. Both of them have an initial i instead of the expected a: i-zi-za EA 24; long volitive ; i-zi-zu-na EA 16; energic. As these are the only 1SG verbal forms in these two letters, it is impossible to tell whether other 1SG verbs would have appeared with an a- prefix or whether these two letters belong to the same categorical group of EA 94, EA and ZA 86 mentioned above as having the consonantal prefixes borrowed from NWS.

However, as far as the verb izuzzu is concerned, a survey of all its occurrences in Canaano-Akkadian will reveal that this verb always has an initial i, regardless of its inflectional forms, thus not only in such forms as 3SGM yi-iz-zi-iz EA 42; Gath Padala? The last two forms prove that the initial vowel, viz.

The suffixed person morpheme is attached to the stem, which is —izziz- or -izziz z a:- respectively. The 3SGM Akkadian form, which consisted of the person prefix i- and the stem —zziz-, was borrowed into Canaano-Akkadian to serve as the stem. To this stem, which now opens with a vowel, the person morphemes are added. In our case, this rule should be applied only to this specific verb, viz.

The verb izuzzu has a highly irregular formation, and it is one of the prefixed statives of Akkadian. This may be the reason why it had been difficult for the foreign scribes to make a sound analysis of its forms. The most common and familiar form, viz. The same tendency, which is general in many Canaanite letters and in EA 94, EA and ZA 86 of Byblos, may hence prove valid for that specific lexeme elsewhere as well.

The vocalic initial phoneme of its stem inhibits the adjoining of the a- prefix of the 1SG person. The trigger for the use of the stem —izziz- is lexical. The use of this stem is therefore established in the linguistic system. Therefore, it should not be dismissed from the linguistic description, nor should it be referred to as an exception.

It must be regarded as an integral part of the system, together with any entailed rules. Returning now to the two 1SG occurrences of this verb in Byblos, the evidence regarding the underlying prefix is ambiguous. This form constitutes an exception, and must be regarded as lapsus calami cf.

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Rainey II: Although the evidence is mostly ambiguous for the Byblos letters, it nevertheless seems that at least EA 85 and EA exhibit a tendency to have an initial i in all occurrences of this verb. Its initial i must be interpreted as a part of the stem. It was borrowed thus from Akkadian, inseparable from the 3SGM prefix of that language. This is exactly the same phenomenon we have already encountered in the case of izuzzu. It is interesting and most instructive to note the formation of these other occurrences as well.

As is the case with the forms of EA cited above, the last two forms here are obviously Gtn formations, as they exhibit — the second one only indirectly — the doubling of p. The other forms may well represent defectively-spelled Gtn stems as well. This is further suggested by the indicative form that follows. Further confirmation of this interpretation is given by comparison to similar contexts in other letters, where their spelling does indicate doubling, e. EA Like ex.