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Trisagion in Turkish (Syriac script)   Leave a comment

I have written before on the page from CCM 10 that has the Trisagion in various languages, all in Syriac script. Let’s take a look specifically at the Turkish part now:

CCM 10, f. 8r, trisagion in Turkish written with Syriac letters

CCM 10, f. 8r, trisagion in Turkish written with Syriac letters

The readings of this one are more obvious than the Georgian part we looked at before. Here is a possible transcription:

arı Taŋrı, arı güçlü, arı ölmez

rahmet bizüm ʾwsnʾ eyle!


arı pure, clean (a homonym means bee, wasp). For “holy” in Isa 6:3, Ali Bey has kuddûs, and the same seems to be the norm in related places (e.g. Rev 4:8), too, in Ali Bey’s version and later translations. (For Ottoman translations of the Bible, see here.)

Taŋrı God (< sky). Here spelled tgry. The ŋ in this word (mod. Tanrı) was written in Ottoman with the ڭ (where so marked) or with نڭ. For the earlier history of the word see G. Clauson, An Etymological Dictionary of Pre-Thirteenth-Century Turkish, pp. 523-524; Turkish and Mongolian Studies, pp. 9-10, 220, 223. It appears in other Turkic languages, too, such as Tatar тәңре. From a Turkic language the word came into Mongolian (sky, heaven, deity; in addition to the above references, cf. N. Poppe, Introduction to Mongolian Comparative Studies, p. 45). The word is listed, of course, in Kāšġarī’s famous work on Turkic languages; see vol. 3: 278-279 of edition available here (PDF); no other edition is available to me now, but for a Russian translation, see № 6418 in the Z.-A. Auezova’s 2005 work (Мах̣мӯд ал-Ка̄шг̣арӣ, Дӣва̄н Луг̣а̄т ат-Турк). (Clauson and others — such as K. Shiratori, Über die Sprache des Hiung-nu Stammes und der Tung-hu Stämme, pp. 3-4 — point to an early occurrence of the word in Chinese garb in the 漢書 Hàn Shū: the form is 撐犁, modern chēng lí < t’ʿäng liei < tʿäng liǝr. The passage is in the last part of the Hàn Shū, the biographies, chapter (94) 匈奴傳上, § 10, available here.) Whether or not there is a real connection, the Turkic word does immediately bring to mind Sumerian diĝir (which we might just as well spell diŋir).

güçlü strong, powerful, mighty. Note in the Syriac script that ç is indicated by a gāmal with an Arabic ǧīm beneath it.

ölmez immortal, undying (the root of ölmek to die + neg. suffix -mAz)

bizüm 1pl pron gen. We might expect the dative bize, but the phrase here (lit. do our mercy) is not altogether unclear; but see the note to the following word. Analogous phrases in Ottoman versions of the Bible do have the dative:

  • Ps 123:3 Ali Bey ʿināyet eyle bize
  • Ps 123:3 Turabi Effendi merhamet eyle bize
  • Lk 18:38 Ali Bey (with 1sg) baŋa merhamet eyle

ʾwsnʾ I’m not immediately sure how to take this word. Possibly a mistake for üstüne upon, a postposition with bizüm for object?

eyle impv of the auxiliary verb eylemek to do, make, here with rahmet: to have mercy, be merciful

Syro-Georgian trisagion   8 comments

Among other uses of Syriac script for non-Syriac languages, we know well of Garšūnī (or Syro-Arabic) and even Syro-Armenian and Syro-Kurdish (especially the Lawij of Basilios Šemʕon al-Ṭūrānī), but I was surprised to find in my recent cataloging work a small example of Georgian written in Syriac script.* The text, which follows several pages of a grammatical list, is on one page of CCM 10 (olim Mardin 81) and it was not noted by Addai Scher, who cataloged the collection in the early twentieth century. It’s the trisagion (vel sim.: the Latin may be a garbled version of lines from this Easter hymn) in eight languages: Latin, Greek, Armenian, Georgian, Persian, Turkish, Arabic, and finally, Syriac. Much might be said about how these languages are represented in this short text, but here I’m only considering the Georgian part, lines 13-14 below.

CCM 10 = Mardin 81, f. 8r

CCM 10 = Mardin 81, f. 8r

The Georgian trisagion (words, transliteration, and ET here) is:

წმინდაო ღმერთო,
წმინდაო ძლიერო,
წმინდაო უკვდავო,
შეგვიწყალენ ჩვენ.

There are many recordings available of the hymn: here is one:

The noun “God” and the adjectives are all in the vocative case, and in the last line we have the verb შეწყალება, which might be analyzed as


There are several occurrences of the imperative ἐλέησον (with first or third person objects) in the Gospels, and so we can look among the Old Georgian versions to see how else the phrase is translated. Here are a few, all from the Adishi version:

  • Mt 9:27, 20:30 მიწყალენ ჩუენ
  • Mt 15:22 შემიწყალე მე
  • Mt 17:15 შეიწყალე ძჱ ჩემი
  • Mt 20:31 გჳწყალენ ჩუენ
  • Lk 17:13 შეგჳწყალენ ჩუენ

The last one, also with 1pl object, is different from the trisagion form only in orthography. The form from Mt 9:27 and 20:30 is built on the same root, but without the preverb შე- and with the 1st person marker მ- instead of გუ- (or variations thereof). The form in Mt 20:31 also has no preverb, but (allowing for the slight orthographic difference) it has the same 1pl markers as in the triasagion form. Finally, those in Mt 15:22 and 17:15 do have the preverb, and given their objects — 1sg and the 3rd person object “my son”, respectively — these forms look exactly as we would expect, the objects marked by -მ- in the first case and -∅- in the second, and naturally without the final -ნ to mark a plural object.

If we compare this Georgian text with the Syriac script above, we find the latter to be muddled. Recognizable to some degree are წმინდაო (Syr. zmyndʔ), ღმერთო (ʔwmrtw), ძლიერო (zryzw), and უკვდავო (ʔwkwdš), but that’s all I can see. While the Syriac letters are hardly as fitting for Georgian as the Georgian alphabet itself is, even with Syriac one might have gotten closer than the orthography in this example. What is the source of the confusion? Did this scribe write these lines from something he heard or knew himself? Did he copy from another written source also in Syriac letters?

I would be happy to hear about any other examples of Georgian written in Syriac letters, but I suspect it is a rare phenomenon.

* Thanks for their comments to Hidemi Takahashi and Nathan Chase, with whom I discussed this text a little.

Georgian manuscripts from the BnF at Gallica   1 comment

Some time ago I posted a query on about places to find freely accessible digitized Georgian manuscripts,* and someone — thanks to შოთა გუგუშვილი! — finally gave an answer with this link from Gallica:

This link points to nine manuscripts, all cataloged and all with quality color images: one may view or download the books. There is a Gospel book, Chrysostom, a synaxarion, four hymnbooks, and a catechism. For full details, see the descriptions available on the site, but here’s a précis for each one:

Included with these eight manuscripts in the search results is also a handwritten catalog of these manuscripts in Georgian by Ekvtime Taqaishvili (1863-1953) from 1933. While these manuscripts do not have the antiquity of some other collections (Sinai and Athos, for example), with the exception of the catechism and the modern catalog, these are nevertheless some old codices.

It seems that the BnF is continuing to add new manuscripts, so we may have even more to look forward to in the same place as time goes by. Many thanks to them for making these manuscripts available for study!

*That is, in addition to the Sinai manuscripts available through E-Corpus.

The Transfiguration in Gǝʿǝz: Three sälam verses from the Synaxarion   Leave a comment

Today (Aug 19) some churches celebrate the Transfiguration, and there are readings for the feast in published synaxaria in Arabic, Armenian, and Gǝʿǝz. A close reading and comparison of the language of these texts would be worthwhile, but now I’d like only to share part of the Gǝʿǝz reading, namely the three sälam verses that close the commemoration of the Transfiguration. (On the genre of the sälam, see this post.) Most typically, there is only one five-line verse in the Gǝʿǝz synaxarion at the end of the commemoration of a saint or holy event, but for this important feast there are three together, the verses ending, respectively, with the syllabic rhymes -ʿa/ʾa, -wä, -se. As usual, verses like this provide a good learning opportunity for students interested in Gǝʿǝz, both in terms of lexicon and grammar, the latter especially thanks to the freer arrangement of the sentence’s constituents that obtains in this kind of writing.

I give Guidi and Grébaut’s text from PO 9: 513-514, together with a new, rough English translation.




Greetings to Tabor, which is named and called
The fertile mountain and the firm mountain!
There Barak conquered, and the might of Sisera was conquered.
And having ascended [that mountain], when Jesus had become man,
He revealed the hidden mystery of his second coming.

Greetings to your ascent up the slope of Mount Tabor in tranquility!
Having taken the men you had chosen from among many,
Jesus, you who were incarnate from the house of Judah,
The appearance of your face shined like lightning,
And your clothes were as white as snow.

The Father proclaimed you in praise,
And the Spirit of holiness concealed your head.
When you had made an assembly of apostles,
Where Elijah was present and where Moses was,
You, Son, showed the trinity of your divinity.


[1] The two prepositions in this line behave more like adverbs than prepositions, given that a relative pronoun pointing back to ክናሴ፡ in the previous line is omitted: “assembly at [which] Elijah was present and with [which] Moses was.” Cf. Dillmann, Gr., § 201.

Old Georgian phrases and sentences 7   Leave a comment

მცირედ არიან აწინდელნი ესე ჟამნი

Pauca sunt haec praesentia tempora.

Slight are these present times.

Source: The Xanmeti Mravalt’avi 1.13. See Joseph Molitor, Monumenta iberica antiquiora, CSCO 166 (Louvain, 1956), 65-90.

Posted July 5, 2013 by adamcmccollum in Georgian, Liturgy

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A short hymn in Syriac attributed to Severos   5 comments

In SMMJ 20 (187v), at the end of the Psalms, appears a short hymn on Jesus attributed to Severos. The same text also occurs (probably among others) in DIYR 202, a liturgical manuscript dated 1477, at the beginning of the Rite for the Confirmation of Deacons (77r-78r), but there without any mention of Severos. The handwriting of the latter is more careful, so I give images from that manuscript here.

DIYR 202, ff. 76v-77r

DIYR 202, ff. 76v-77r

DIYR 202, ff. 77v-78r

DIYR 202, ff. 77v-78r

The ending taw-alaf in some cases is written in a unique way that I’ve not noticed before, in which the scribe connects two letters not normally connected.

DIYR 202, f. 77v, line 11 (see also line 5)

DIYR 202, f. 77v, line 11 (see also line 5)

It’s not a particularly moving piece, but it’s short and easy, and so it may be a welcome sample for Syriac students to devote a few minutes to.

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