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Tahmasebian, Kayvan (2023) Taṣḥīf: A Poetics of Misreading. Birmingham: Licit Magic – GlobalLit Working Papers 18.

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This working paper deals with the potentials of visual paronomasia and misreading in Persian poetics, and what they imply for textual criticism. In Arabic and Persian poetry, words gain an aesthetic value for their shape, the way they appear in writing. A visual parallelism between words defines a special kind of paronomasia known as script paronomasia (jinās-i khaṭṭ). The morphological features of Persian letters (which were adapted from Arabic alphabet following the Muslim conquest in seventh century) increases the possibility of mistaking one word for another, especially in manuscripts. 29 out of the 32 letters of the Persian alphabet can be classified in 11 groups. Each group consists of letters with the same general morphology. What distinguishes the letters in each group is the number and the position of diacritical dots (nuqṭa). In Arabic and Persian poetry, the potential of misreading is exploited as technique named taṣḥīf. Through taṣḥīf, the poet chooses words that are read differently with a slight change in dotting patterns, hence creating ambiguity.

Item Type: Monographs and Working Papers (Working Paper)
Keywords: Persian literature, Poetics, Rhetoric, Middle Ages, Transmission of texts, Criticism, Textual
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics > Department of Linguistics
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2024 11:41
Funders: European Union

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