Saturday, February 18, 2023

Demonstrative pronouns and articles in Egyptian and Coptic

Kupreyev, Maxim N.

This dissertation investigates the demonstratives in Old Egyptian. It shows that the proper description of the Old Kingdom deictic system delivers key insights into the emergence of the new proclitic forms "pȝ", "tȜ", "nȜ", which later grammaticalize to definite articles.

In order to define the features of the Old Kingdom demonstratives, I provide an in-depth introduction into the current methods of analysis of deixis and specificity. I further summarize the Egyptological research, dedicated to the demonstratives in Old Egyptian. Although the temporal frames of this study are confined to Old Kingdom, I deal extensively with the category of determination in Middle Egyptian, Demotic and Coptic. I extend the reviews with the commentaries, and introduce the original topics, such as determiner compatibilities and syntactic specificity effects. In preparation for the analysis of demonstratives in the Old Kingdom I provide the diachronic, diaphasic, and diastratic features of the core textual records.

The analysis section embraces the typological and diatopic traits of Old Kingdom demonstratives, supplemented by the overview of the grammaticalization patterns of Afro-Asiatic deictic roots. I demonstrate the presence of two competing deictic systems in the Old Kingdom Egypt: one based on the joint attentional focus of the interlocutors, operating with "pn" as attention shifter and "pw" as attention tracker; and an alternative one, relying on the distance contrast, utilizing "pf" for a distal referent and "pn" for a proximal referent. The attentional system is visibly in decline in the literary discourse, the process possibly triggered by the arrival of the emphatic "pf". It persists, however, in the colloquial stratum, as manifested by the emergence of the recognitional "pȝ", "tȝ", "nȝ". The morphological features suggest that these are the allomorphs of the attention trackers "pw", "tw", "nw", as proven by the change "w" → "ȝ" in deictic and non-deictic lexemes containing the final "w". I put forward the hypothesis that strong variants of "pȝ", "tȝ", "nȝ", initially not distinguished from weak forms in writing, should have appeared after the proclitic forms were able to obtain stress. Syntactic features uncover the mechanism behind the pronominal conversion – the shift of enclitic demonstratives to the pre-nominal position. I challenge the established opinion that this front-movement was emphatic and conditioned by the “pusuit for expressivity”. The explanation, in my opinion, lies rather in a larger prosodic context, extending beyond the core phrase noun + demonstrative. My data show that demonstratives could be drawn to the front, abiding to the Wackernagel law, which demanded clitics to follow the first stressed unit in a sentence, e.g. verbs in the imperative. The prosodic features of the construction N + pw/tw + relative phrase, on the other hand, had an opposite effect: in it the enclitic pw/tw was detached from the noun to join a following prosodic unit of the relative phrase. This is the source construction for the strong pA/tA, as it allows demonstrative to obtain accentuation under the conditions of the “rule of three syllables”.

Further, I consider the question why the bespoken grammatical phenomena were only sporadically attested in the literary sources of the Old Kingdom. I establish the comparative concepts to attribute the deictic features to the regions of Egypt, broadly defined as North and South. The deictic system of joint attention with "pn"/"pw", the non-emphatic leftward movement of enclitic "pw", and the “rule of three syllables” could be assigned to the northern dialects. The spatial deictic system with "pn" and "pf", the fixed post-nominal position of the demonstratives, and the early adoption of the “rule of two syllables” characterized the southern linguistic type. The demonstrative "pf" was a relative newcomer in the North, while "pȝ", being the pragmatic and morphological development of "pw", gradually extended its outreach to the South. This pattern suggests that the Northern dialects shaped – at least in terms of deictica – the concept of a “literary norm” in Early Old Egyptian. The Old and Middle Egyptian standards were the product of the southern linguistic turn, occurring during the Fifth Dynasty. Lastly, my analysis places Egyptian in a wider Afro-Asiatic linguistic context, tracing the Afro-Asiatic deictic roots as source morphemes for Egyptian demonstratives, personal and relative pronouns, non-verbal copulas and focus particles.

In conclusion, I juxtapose the results of my study with some of the established tenets of article grammaticalization. I propose to reconsider the role of distance-related features and the acquisition of semantic definiteness for article development. Instead, I suggest that the system of joint attention provides a more fitting cognitive explanation for the genesis of the define article.



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