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Meroitic: A Phonological Investigation

Rowan, Kirsty (2006) Meroitic: A Phonological Investigation. PhD thesis. SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies).

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Abstract

This thesis is a study into certain areas of Meroitic phonology. The Meroitic language was spoken in an area that encompasses modern day Nubia (southern Egypt to northern Sudan). Evidence for the Meroitic language is only known through the survival of its inscriptions, whereby two forms are used to write these: hieroglyphic and cursive, both heavily borrowed from the Ancient Egyptian writing system. The Meroitic language has only been partially deciphered; Griffith (1911) established approximations for the signs’ sound values, along with identifying a handful of lexical items. Progress into the decipherment of the language has been seriously hampered by the lack of any bilingual texts, and more importantly, a lack of evidence for a genetic affiliation with an existing language or language family. This thesis concentrates on investigating the traditional representations given for the phonemic values of the Meroitic signs. The methods used for investigating this are: firstly, through analysing the correlative phonemic values of signs taken from transcriptions from languages such as Ancient Egyptian, Coptic and Greek, where equivalent forms with Meroitic ones are evidenced. These transcriptions from other languages are given with their sources. Secondly, empirical and typological phonological evidence is used to support the proposed revisions to the phonemic values of certain Meroitic signs, and thirdly the investigation also analyses these proposals within a theoretical framework, principally Government Phonology. Through this investigation, I not only challenge the traditional representations of certain signs but also present revisions to them. I highlight that research into the Meroitic script has to take into account the level at which the script is encoding the Meroitic language, whether this is the phonetic or phonemic level.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
Keywords: Meroitic, phonology, Nubian, Kush, Sudan, Ancient Scripts, dead languages, Egyptology
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of Linguistics
Supervisors Name: Monik Charette and Bruce Ingham and Lutz Marten
Depositing User: Kirsty Rowan
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2012 15:33
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/12836

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