On some non-standard spellings in the Aramaic magic bowls and their linguistic significance

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Abstract

In the Jewish Babylonian Aramaic magic bowls we occasionally find spellings that stray from the linguistic standard employed in these texts. It is argued that in many cases these can be explained as phonetic spellings that reflect aspects of the Aramaic spoken by the scribes. Support for this contention may be found in the better manuscripts of Babylonian Rabbinic literature, wherein such spellings are more frequently employed. It is argued that the corrections of these forms in the magic bowls towards the historical spelling indicates the existence of a literary language in which at least some scribes aspired to write, not always successfully. Since these non-standard spellings provide rare evidence for the nature of the Aramaic spoken by these native scribes, and occasionally provide 'missing links' of the history of Aramaic, the modern editors of the magic bowls must be wary of unnecessarily emending the texts they publish.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-277
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Semitic Studies
Volume52
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

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