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Bilingual Notaries in Hellenistic Egypt
A Study of Greek as a Second Language

Authors:  Vierros M.
Year: 2012
ISBN: 978-90-6569-103-3
Pages: 291 p.
Price: 25 EURO

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In the Upper Egyptian town Pathyris nearly twenty bilingual family archives have been found, dating to the second and first centuries BCE. They contain different types of documents, but contracts play an important role. Most of the Greek contracts were written by notaries (agoranomoi), whose native language was Egyptian. This study describes the language contact situation in Hellenistic Egypt in general and in Pathyris in particular. Notarial offices and scribal families in Upper Egypt are also discussed.
The main focus of the study is a thorough phonological and morpho-syntactic analysis of the Greek language of the bilingual notaries. With the help of handwriting analysis, we get close to studying idiolects. Some of the notaries had more transfer features from their first language than others. Especially a notary called Hermias used creative strategies to avoid certain Greek structures and his Greek seems to present a learner's interlanguage with first and second language structures intertwining.

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