Page:Compendious Syriac Grammar.djvu/48

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§§ 15. 16.
— 10 —

Rukkākhā and Quššāyā.§ 15. The soft pronunciation (Rukkākhā) of the letters ܟ‍ ܕ ܓ ܒ ܬ (§ 2) can be expressed by a point placed under them, the hard pronunciation (Quššāyā) by one placed over them, e. g. ܢܣܱܒ݂ܬ݁ ne̊savt "thou didst take", ܢܷܣܒܷ݁ܬ݂ nesbeth "I took" &c. (For farther examples v. in particular § 23 et sqq.). In the case of ܦ the hard sound is commonly indicated by a point set within the letter, something like ܦ·; and by ܦ݁ is represented the sound of the Greek π (§ 25), which diverges from this, being completely unaspirated[1] and peculiarly foreign to a Semite. Others set down ܦ݂ = f, ܦ݁ = p, and ܦ̈ = π. We shall however denote the Syriac hard p also by ܦ݁.

This system, of which certain variations appear (such as ܬܸ, with two points, instead of ܬ݂) is only carried out in very careful writing. In Nestorian manuscripts, however, particularly those of later origin, and in Nestorian printed matter, the system is largely employed. At the same time these points are usually left out, when they would interfere with the vowel points, e. g. ܒܲܝܬܵܐ, not ܒܲܝܬ݁ܵܐ; ܡܝܼ̈ܬܹܐ, not ܡܝܼ̈ܬ݂ܹܐ.

Plural points.§ 16. A. From the oldest times, and regularly, plural forms, of substantives in the first place, have been distinguished by two superscribed points ◌̈, called Se̊yāmē[2]: thus ܡ̈ܠܟܐ, ܡܠܟ̈ܬܐ malkē, malkāthā "kings, queens" are distinguished from the singulars:—ܡܠܟܐ, ܡܠܟܬܐ malkā, malkethā. And so also ܡܠܟ̈ܘܗܝ malkau "his kings" &c, although in such a case there was no possibility of mistaking the word for a singular.

B. Substantive plurals in ܝܢ commonly receive the sign ◌̈, but not those of the predicative adjective, thus, ܐܡܝ̈ܢ ammīn "cubits", but ܫܪܝܪܝܢ šarrīrīn "(are) true".

True collective nouns, which have no special plural, must take ◌̈, e. g. ܥܢ̈ܐ ʿānā "a flock", but we have ܒܩܪܐ baqrā "herd (of cattle)", because a plural ܒܩܪ̈ܐ baqrē "herds" appears.

  1. Answering to the representation of τ by ܛ (not by ܬ) and of κ by ܩ (not by ܟ‍).
  2. The Hebrew appellation in vogue,—Ribbūi is naturally unknown to the Syrians. It was borrowed by a European scholar from the Hebrew Grammarians, and means "plural".