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Mesopotamian ʾImālah in light of Quranic Reading Traditions

Marijn van Putten

Pages 71 - 85

The Mesopotamian Qəltu dialects are well-known for their extensive use of ʾimālah. This paper reexamines the historical development of this ʾimālah and identifies three independent processes. One of these processes clearly contin-ues the phonemic distinction between two early Arabic phonemes *ē and *ā which have merged to ā in Modern Standard Arabic. It is shown that this phonemic distinction was present in several Quranic reading traditions from Kufa. It is shown that specifically the reading tradition of al-Kisāʾī (d. 189/804) shows clear traces of all three ʾimālah processes now found in the Mesopotamian Qəltu dialects, and thus serves as one of our earliest witnesses of these processes.

Keywords: ʾImālah; Quranic reading traditions; Qəltu dialects; al-Kisāʾī; Arabic grammatical tradition


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