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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Personal Markers and Verbal Number in Meroitic

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Thanks to the use of linguistic comparison and analyses of new inscriptions, Meroitic, the extinct language of the kingdom of Meroe, Sudan, has become increasingly well known. The present article deals with the identification of personal markers and verbal number. It shows how Meroitic, like many other languages, used a former demonstrative, qo, as a 3rd person independent pronoun. An in-depth analysis of the royal chronicles of the kings and princes of Meroe, compared with their Napatan counterparts written in Egyptian, further yields the 1st person singular dependent pronoun e- (later variant ye-), which can be compared with 1st person singular pronoun found in related languages. A stela of Candace Amanishakheto found in Naga is the starting point for identifying the 2nd person singular and plural independent pronouns are and deb. These two morphemes are linked with the most recent reconstructions of Proto-Nubian pronouns and conrm the narrow genetic relation between Nubian and Meroitic. Finally, the reassessment of the so-called “verbal dative” ‐xe/‐bxe shows that this morpheme is simply a former verbal number marker with integrated case endings. This makes it a rare instance of transcategorisation in the cross-linguistic typology of verbal number.

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