[b-hebrew] Learning Ugaritic

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Tue May 22 01:12:10 EDT 2007

Dear Amir,

In my Ugaritic class in Oslo we primarily use D. Sivan (1997) "A Grammar
of the Ugaritic Language"; J. Tropper (2002) "Ugaritisch Kurzgefasste
Grammatik mit Ûbungstexten und Glossar; and G. del Olmo Lete & J. San Martín
(2003) "A Dictionary of the Ugaritic Language in the Alphabetic Tradition".
An advantage of Tropper is his German-Ugaritic Dictionary; in Sivan you can
find analyses of grammatical forms, and words not found in Tropper are found
in Olmo Lete/San Martin. I also use Gordon, Segert, the big grammar of
Tropper, and different monographs for my preparations. Many Ugaritic words
have Hebrew counterparts and some have Akkadian and Arabic counterparts as 
these are in most instances listed by Olmo Lete/San Martin. With your
background in the Semitic languages, and by the use of the mentioned books
you will be able to start with the Ba´al cycle or Kirta (Kirta is easier to
start with) on your own, and you can read the text with few problems, but 
you have to proceed slowly at the beginning.

In my view, the study of Ugaritic will give you many insights into Semitic
Grammar, particularly the nature of the Semitic verbal systems. I you want
to invest quite a lot of time in your study, I suggest four approaches:

1) Make up your mind regarding the nature of tense and aspect ( I recommend
four books: B. Comrie (1976) "Aspect"; B. Comrie (1985) "Tense"; M. Broman
Olsen (1997) "A Semantic and Pragmatic Model of Lexical and Grammatical
Aspect"; and my own book, "A New Understanding of the Verbal System of
Classical Hebrew An Attempt to Distinguish between Semantic and Pragmatic

2) Compare the explanations of the Ugaritic verbal systems given by Gordon,
Segert, Sivan, and Tropper - the explanations are very different (make your 
own table for comparison).

3) When you read Ugaritic texts, map the verbs. Make lists of the time
references (past, present, and future) of the same forms, and try to find
patterns. Particularly Kirta (Keret) is interesting, because the same roots
in the same conjugations are first used with future reference and then with
past reference.

4) Compare your results with the different viewpoints (aspectual versus
temporal) that are extant regarding classical Hebrew Grammar.

I suspect that the result of such a study would be the realization that 
traditional Hebrew grammar is in need of a drastic revision.

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "particle wave" <particle.wave at gmail.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2007 1:45 AM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Learning Ugaritic

> Greetings all,
> First, since I'm fairly new to the list, a little bit of introduction.
> I grew up a moderately religious Jew and while I studied the Tanakh
> and Talmud in their Hebrew and Aramaic forms, respectively, I was
> never really taught anything about the grammar of Biblical Hebrew or
> Talmudic Aramaic. I did learn Modern Hebrew grammar, though it took a
> semester and a half of Classical Arabic in college to make the Hebrew
> grammar gel (thank you Arabic pronunciations of ayin, tet and qof).
> My interest in semitic linguistics started when I spent a semester
> simultaneously taking classes on Modern Hebrew Grammar, Classical
> Arabic and some text study of both the Talmud and some Dead Sea
> Scrolls material. This interest has been largely dormant for the last
> dozen plus years but was recently rekindled by a debate with a friend
> over Ashkenazi Hebrew pronunciation that led to binge-reading on
> linguistics in general. I'm now looking at applying to school to
> formally study linguistics with a focus on Semitic languages.
> So, in the meantime, I'm taking a stab at Ugaritic. I just got my copy
> of Segert's book and have been digging in.  My Hebrew is pretty much
> shot at this point (though more use of it will bring a lot back pretty
> quickly) and what little Arabic and Aramaic I learned in school is
> long gone now. I'm meeting later this week with a friend who's a
> speech pathologist to walk through the phonology as described in the
> book. I'm wondering what other resources people on the list might be
> able to recommend. I've poked around on the net a bit and found an
> online course at the Quartz Hill School of Theology
> [http://www.theology.edu/ugraintr.htm] but it doesn't seem to add much
> other than lists of words to memorize and some reading comprehension
> tests. These both seem like good ideas and I'll use them but I'm
> wondering what other books and resources people might recommend.
> Thanks,
>     Amir Rosenblatt
>     Seattle, WA
> _______________________________________________
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> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
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