Page:Compendious Syriac Grammar.djvu/13

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
IX
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.

and the Jacobite-Maronite tradition. In this process, however, I have endeavoured to observe a due spirit of caution. Even the examination of the metrical conditions found in the old "poets" (sit venia verbo!) has not been without results for determining grammatical forms.

Still, even when all authoritative sources have been disclosed, a good deal will continue to be obscure in the Phonology and Morphology of Syriac, as it is only for the Bible and a few ecclesiastical writings that an accurate tradition of the pronunciation exists. So much the less will the expert be disposed to find fault with me, for having left here and there, upon occasion, a mark of interrogation.

As regards the Orthography of the consonantal writing, we are very favourably situated at the present time, when a long series of texts reproduces for us with accuracy the style of writing followed in manuscripts, from the 5th century onwards.

The Syntax I have based wholly upon original authors belonging to the age in which Syriac was an absolutely living speech. I have relied specially upon prose works, and among the poets I have given preference to those who write a simple style. Only a very few of my supporting-passages come down as far as the 7th century: the others range from the 2nd to the 6th. To bring in Barhebraeus or Ebedjesu for the illustration of the Syntax, is much the same as if one sought to employ Laurentius Valla, or Muretus, as an authority for original Latin. All the examples I have myself collected, with the exception of about a dozen. Naturally I have made much less use of strongly Graecising writings, than of those which adhere to a genuine Aramaic style. From the ancient versions of the Bible I have, without farther remark, adduced such passages only as are free from Hebraisms and Graecisms. Looking to the great influence of the Peshitǎ on the style of all subsequent writings, I might perhaps have gone somewhat farther in quoting from it. All the citations from the O. T. I have verified in Ceriani's edition, so far as it has proceeded. Other translations from the Greek I have used only very exceptionally,—in fact almost never except to illustrate certain Graecisms which were in favour. No doubt even the best original writings in Syriac give evidence of the strong influence of Greek Syntax; but, on