In the 5th century Syriac scribes began to use dots in order to document the oral reading traditions of the Bible. Some dots were used to vocalise words and differentiate between otherwise identical words. Another set of dots is the topic of this lecture. These dots, often called accents, were used to mark rising and falling tones, as well as different types of pauses. How and why were these dots used? Did Syriac scribes invent the earliest question mark in the history of writing? How did the native Syriac grammarians describe this system? These are some of the questions we will explore in this lecture.
Johan Lundberg (Ph.D. Cantab) is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Oxford, UK. His research interests are focused on languages and manuscripts from the Middle East, especially the Semitic languages. He was responsible for the Syriac strand of the AHRC-DFG funded InterSAME project (https://www.intersame.uni-hamburg.de) and is currently finishing a monograph about the development of the Syriac system of accent dots and treatises written by grammarians such as Jacob of Edessa, Elias of Nisibis and Gregory Bar Hebraeus.
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