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QCT has ʾty not ʾtʾ, showing that III-y and III-w started to merge, a development we already see underway in Safaitic.
أَتَىٰ Q 26:89:3

As for the pronunciation difference, you do not discuss the issue of the rhyme scheme. The alif maqṣūrah (almost) only rhymes with alif maqṣūrah in the quran, which is a good internal reason to assume that its pronunciation was distinct from alif mamdūdah. this contrasts with later poetry.

as for the other manuscripts, perhaps in the dialects of the scribes those sounds have already merged, just as these spellings are sometimes confused in middle arabic.

For what it is worth, first islamic century transcriptions all give an e-vowel for alif maqṣūrah, and never a.

given these points, i think a conservative reading is that alif maqṣūrah was distinct from alif mamdūdah. whether they were pronounced as ē and ō/ā respectively is impossible to say.


Good stuff! Do you think the invisibility of 3sg suffixes is because they were just pronounced as -h? That would be surprising for the feminine.

Thanks for the examples of other question words in-a, couldn't find any source for the contamination because I was looking at normal adverbs. מתי isn't actually unexpected if you take everything into account: the same stress shift occurs in jussives like יקם yåqóm < *yáqum, and stressed *áy in word-final syllables is preserved. It can't come from *mataya, though.


well, In the Northern Najd, the masculine clitic is -h or -u(h), while the feminine suffix is -ah.

baytu(h) 'his house', baytah 'her house'.

In that sense they at least kind of have the same shape.

I don't think we should think of this invincibility of the 3sg suffixes as the result of some phonetic development. The very fact that we find it both in the Qurʔān, the preislamic poetry and Safaitic seems to kind of make that option impossible (they surely didn't have the same pronunciations in all those variants).

It rather just seems that for stylistic reasons there is this extra-metrical rhyme thing going on.

It's also maybe not completely correct in the example I cited to claim that they are 'invisible' to rhyme. In this sequence they clearly have a bunch of -ay-hā sequences in a row, which of course rhyme with eachother. This doesn't work as well for Ahmad's Baal cycle poem. But yeah it is a kind of 'derived rhyme' in that sense. I'm sure there's other examples like that in the world.

Thanks for the point on the matay form. I couldn't remember what your point was exactly!

But it is an issue for Arabic regardless, but I don't think it's unreasonable (although unprovable) that matā goes back to *mataya instead, and that the addition of -a is an Arabic internal development.

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