[b-hebrew] Learning Ugaritic

James Spinti JSpinti at Eisenbrauns.com
Tue May 22 08:41:01 EDT 2007


Ugaritic is a nice language to learn, but it's helpfulness for Akkadian
and other cuneiform scripts is minimal. Ugaritic used an alphabetic
cuneiform, whereas Akkadian, Hittite, etc., used a syllabic script with
hundreds of different signs that had multiple values, depending on
context and time.

Ugaritic is not terribly difficult to learn if you have one or two other
Semitic languages already. Of course, learning could have several
definitions. Many people come to Ugaritic for purposes other than
learning the language itself. You saw an example of that with Rolf, he
learned Ugaritic to further his understanding of the Semitic verbal
system. Others, especially in the pan-Ugaritic days of Dahood, et al.,
learned Ugaritic because they thought it held the key to the Canaanite
background to the Hebrew Bible. Others learn it for comparative
Semitics; hence the strong emphasis on vocalization of the text--not to
say that is wrong, it is very helpful. Segert is a fairly good text to
use for beginning, especially since you already have it :) Rolf gave you
a few other references, some of which will break your pocketbook :(

To read Ugaritic well, you need to spend time with it--just like with
any other language. KRT/Kirta is a nice text to start with, but so are
the selections in the back of Segert. Personally, I really learned
Ugaritic when I was forced to read all the letters in KTU (now called
CTA in a revised edition) in a quarter. From there, the Baal cycle
seemed (relatively) easy.

James Spinti
Marketing Director, Book Sales Division
Eisenbrauns, Good books for more than 30 years
Specializing in Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Studies
jspinti at eisenbrauns dot com
Web: http://www.eisenbrauns.com
Phone: 574-269-2011 ext 226
Fax: 574-269-6788 


> -----Original Message-----
> From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org 
> [mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of particle wave
> Sent: Monday, May 21, 2007 8:46 PM
> To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> 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
> _______________________________________________
> b-hebrew mailing list
> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list