Language Contact in Central Asia


Adam McCollum
University of Notre Dame

This workshop will offer the opportunity for a broad look at the linguistically diverse textual witness to life on the Silk Road(s), or Central Asia, during the 9th–13th centuries. In this region and time period, we find texts and documents from a variety of communities (principally Buddhist, Manichaean, and Christian), which show us a fascinating juxtaposition and interplay of language and identity, religion and language, language and script, and translation. This grants us the opportunity to see how a matrix of language and cultural context develops, with nodes of both similarity and dissimilarity.

In addition, we will discuss the context of the 19th and 20th century “acquisition” and subsequent fate of this textual witness, a case of American, French, German, Russian, and Japanese expeditions active in western China at a high point of colonial activity.

Adam McCollum is a Visiting Associate Professional Specialist in the languages of Late Antiquity in the Theology Department at the University of Notre Dame. His teaching and research interests include Greek, Syriac (and other Aramaic dialects), Armenian, Georgian, Coptic, Old Turkic, and Iranian languages. Prior to his position at Notre Dame, he was Lead Cataloger of Eastern Christian Manuscripts at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library and Wissenschaftlicher Projektmitarbeiter in the ERC-funded project, Reassessing Ninth Century Philosophy: A Synchronic Approach to the Logical Traditions, based in the Institut für Byzantinistik und Neogräzistik, Universität Wien. Among his many recent publications are a translation of Jacob of Sarug’s Homilies on Jesus’ Temptation (Gorgias, 2014), “A Newly Identified Old Georgian Witness to the Greek Homily CPG 4622 at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library” in Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies Bulletin 1 (2015), “Greek Literature in the Christian East: Translations into Syriac, Georgian, and Armenian” in Intellectual History of the Islamicate World 3 (2015), and the edited volume Studies in Ethiopian Languages, Literature, and History: Festschrift for Getatchew Haile (Harrassowitz Verlag, 2017).

Blog at