A History of the Passive in Pre-modern Aramaic: An Outline
In Proto-Aramaic, the passive of transitive verbs belonging to all three principal stems—G, D and C—was formed internally. Some verbs of the G- and D-stems also possessed detransitive derivatives. Transitive verbs of the G-, D- and C-stems lost their internal passives early on, and the passives of G- and D-verbs were encoded by their respective t-stems. Against this general Aramaic picture, in Imperial Aramaic the passive forms of the G-stem were in complementary distribution: the passive Past was encoded by the internal passive of the Suffix Conjugation (Gp SC), while the passive non-Past was rendered by the Gt participle and the Gt Prefix Conjugation. Gp SC stopped being used with Imperial Aramaic once it was replaced, as a written language, by vernacular-based literary varieties. The Ct-stem, non-existent in Imperial Aramaic, must have first emerged among spoken varieties of Aramaic in the first half of the first millennium BCE, and only within I-w and II-w/y roots. Within the Imperial Aramaic corpus, both the rare Gt SC passive forms and Ct-stem forms reflect the influence of spoken Aramaic varieties in the diglossic situation. In Syriac, the Ct-stem of sound roots is unattested during its golden age. The Ct-forms of sound roots appeared in original Syriac texts only after the Arab conquest, and these also come from spoken Aramaic varieties.