Repetition Analysis Function and the Avestan Manuscripts

The Avestan Manuscript J2, fol. 5 Y.07c-Y.09a. Yasna with Its Pahlavi Translation (A.D. 1323). © TITUS, Frankfurt 2001-2002

Jügel, Thomas. 2015. Repetition analysis function (ReAF) I. Indogermanische Forschungen 120(1).177–208.

Repetitions are relevant for several aspects of historical philology. With regard to Avestan, they may allow for the identification of ceremonial frames or opening and closing sections revealing the compositional structure of a ceremony. In case of manuscript comparison, the question arises whether a variant appears only once or in all of its repetitive passages. Furthermore, by analysing the compositional structure we may be able to detect ceremonial structures different to the practice of today. A secondary aspect relates to the interpretation of the grammaticality of Young Avestan passages. The repetition analysis provides evidence that passages which are hitherto considered ill-formed actually follow the rules of Avestan grammar. The scope of this study is to investigate computational means for detecting repetitive sequences. It represents a case study of the manuscript J2 by means of tools that were set up in the LOEWE priority programme Digital Humanities at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main: a digital lexicon, a letter discrimination matrix for Avestan, and the programme Repetition Analysis Function. The article ReAF I offers some basic observations on repetitive sequences in the manuscript J2 and lays the foundation for ReAF II (Jügel forthc.), where the results of the repetition analyses will be used to discuss the compositional structure of the Yasna.