Dozens of languages were spoken in the ancient world during the period stretching from the Hellenistic to the Islamic conquests. There were far fewer writing systems than spoken languages, which means that not every language had a cognate script, and many died out before ever being written down. But for those languages with a tradition and formalised system of writing, the connection between language and script was strong. Long integral texts written in the script of another language are a medieval phenomenon; they were not produced as a mainstream cultural activity in antiquity. The concept of separating language from script was not entirely absent, but it is our thesis that a transcribed text invariably indicates marginality or liminality of some kind: a language or script which is dying, an individual on a cultural/linguistic seam, a peripheral medium such as magic, a scholastic exercise. These exceptional cases constitute the first part of the current investigation. In the second part, we shall examine the more complex instance of rabbinical traditions regarding the scripts and languages used in writing biblical books.
|Original language||American English|
|Title of host publication||From Hellenism to Islam|
|Subtitle of host publication||Cultural and Linguistic Change in The Roman Near East|
|Publisher||Cambridge University Press|
|Number of pages||34|
|State||Published - 1 Jan 2009|
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2009 and Cambridge University Press, 2010.