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Radner, Karen ORCID: 0000-0003-4425-9447 (May 2021): Diglossia and the Neo-Assyrian Empire’s Akkadian and Aramaic Text Production. In: Jonker, Louis C.; Berlejung, Angelika; Cornelius, Izak (eds.) : Multilingualism in Ancient Contexts: Perspectives from Ancient Near Eastern and Early Christian Contexts. Stellenbosch: African Sun Media. pp. 146-181


As this paper aims to highlight, the Assyrian Empire’s language environment, and in particular its scribal production, was diglossic, with a sharp distinction between the highly codified literary language of Standard Babylonian for high status texts and three vernacular languages for lower status communications (Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian and Aramaic). It is argued that between these languages, the distinction between the highly codified lect on the one hand and the three vernacular languages on the other hand is far more significant than the fact that three of these languages were written in cuneiform and the other in alphabetic script.