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Ugaritic
Spoken in ancient Ugarit
Language extinction twelfth century BC
Language family Afro-Asiatic
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 uga
ISO 639-3 uga

The Ugaritic language, discovered by French archaeologists in 1928, is known only in the form of writings found in the lost city of Ugarit, near the modern village of Ras Shamra, Syria. It has been extremely important for scholars of the Old Testament in clarifying Biblical Hebrew texts and has revealed more of the way in which ancient Israelite culture finds parallels in the neighboring cultures.

Ugaritic was "the greatest literary discovery from antiquity since the deciphering of the Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mesopotamian cuneiform[1]". Literary texts discovered at Ugarit include the Legend of Keret, the Aqhat Epic (or Legend of Danel), the Myth of Baal-Aliyan, and the Death of Baal — the latter two are also collectively known as the Baal Cycle — all revealing a Canaanite religion.

The Ugaritic language is attested in texts from the 14th through the 12th century BC.[2] The city was destroyed in 1180/70 BC.

Contents

Writing System

List of Ugaritic gods

The Ugaritic alphabet is a cuneiform abjad (alphabet without vowels), used from around 15th century BCE. Although it appears similar to Mesopotamian cuneiform, it was unrelated (see Ugaritic alphabet). It is the oldest example of the family of West Semitic scripts that were used for Phoenician, Hebrew, and Aramaic. The so-called long alphabet has 31 letters, while the short alphabet has 22. Other languages (particularly Hurrian) were occasionally written in it in the Ugarit area, although not elsewhere.

Clay tablets written in Ugaritic provide the earliest evidence of both the Levantine and South Semitic orders of the alphabet, which gave rise to the alphabetic orders of the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin alphabets. The script was written from left to right.

Phonology

Ugaritic has 28 consonantal phonemes, including two semivowels, and eight vowel phonemes (three short vowels and five long vowels): a ā i ī u ū ē ō. (ē and ō only occur as long vowels and are the result of monophthongization of the diphthongs “ay” and “aw” respectively).

Ugaritic consonantal phonemes
  Labial Interdental Dental/Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
plain emphatic
Nasal m   n            
Stop voiceless p   t   k q   ʔ
voiced b   d     ɡ      
Fricative voiceless   θ s ʃ x ħ h
voiced   ð z ðˤ ʒ1 ɣ2 ʕ  
Trill     r            
Approximant     l   j w      

1 The voiced palatal fricative ʒ occurs as a late variant of the voiced interdental fricative ð.

2 The voiced velar fricative ɣ occurs as a late variant of the emphatic voiced interdental ðˤ.

The following table shows Proto-Semitic phonemes and their correspondences among Ugaritic, Arabic and Tiberian Hebrew:

Proto-Semitic Ugaritic Arabic Tiberian Hebrew
b b ب b בּ b
p p ف f פּ p
[ð] [ð] ذ [ð] ז z
[θ] [θ] ث [θ] שׁ š [ʃ]
[ðˁ] [ðˁ] ظ [ðˁ] צ [sˁ]
d d د d דּ d
t t ت t תּ t
[tˁ] [tˁ] ط [tˁ] ט [tˁ]
š [ʃ] š [ʃ] س s שׁ š [ʃ]
z z ز z ז z
s s س s ס s
[sˁ] [sˁ] ص [sˁ] צ [sˁ]
l l ل l ל l
ś [ɬ] š [ʃ] ش š [ʃ] שׂ s
ṣ́ [ɬˁ] [sˁ] ض [ɮˁ]→[dˁ] צ [sˁ]
g [ɡ] g ج ǧ [ɡʲ]→[d͡ʒ] גּ g
k k ك k כּ k
q [kˁ] q [kˁ] ق q [kˁ] ק q [kˁ]
ġ [ɣ] ġ [ɣ]* غ ġ [ɣ] ע ʻ [ʕ]
[x] [x] خ [x] ח [ħ]
ʻ [ʕ] ʻ [ʕ] ع ʻ [ʕ] ע ʻ [ʕ]
[ħ] [ħ] ح [ħ] ח [ħ]
ʼ [ʔ] ʼ [ʔ] ء ʼ [ʔ] א ʼ [ʔ]
h h ه h ה h
m m م m מ m
n n ن n נ n
r r ر r ר r
w w و w ו w
y [j] y [j] ي y [j] י y [j]
Proto-Semitic Ugaritic Arabic Tiberian Hebrew

* Sometimes Ugaritic ġ [ɣ] corresponds to Proto-Semitic ṣ́ [ɬˁ].

Grammar

Ugaritic is an inflected language, and as a Semitic language its grammatical features are highly similar to those found in Classical Arabic and Akkadian. It possesses two genders (masculine and feminine), three cases for nouns and adjectives (nominative, accusative, and genitive); three numbers: (singular, dual, and plural); and verb aspects similar to those found in Western Semitic languages. The word order for Ugaritic is verb-subject-Object (VSO), possessed–possessor (NG), and nounadjective (NA). Ugaritic is considered a conservative Semitic language, since it retains most of the Proto-Semitic phonemes, the case system and the word order of the Proto-Semitic ancestor.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Gordon, Cyrus Herzl (1965). The Ancient Near East. W.W. Norton & Company Press. ISBN 0-393-00275-6.  at p.99
  2. ^ Quartz Hill School of Theology, Ugarit and the Bible

References

  • Cunchillos, J-L. and Juan-Pablo Vita (2003). A Concordance of Ugaritic Words. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press. ISBN 1-59333-258-0.  Also available from Logos Bible Software
  • del Olmo Lete, Gregorio; & Sanmartín, Joaquín (2004). A Dictionary of the Ugaritic Language in the Alphabetic Tradition. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-04-13694-0.  (2 vols), (originally in Spanish, translated by W.G.E. Watson).
  • Gibson, John C.L. (1977). Canaanite Myths and Legends. T. & T. Clark. ISBN 0-567-02351-6.  This contains Latin-alphabet transliterations of the Ugaritic texts and facing translations in English.
  • Gordon, Cyrus Herzl (1965). The Ancient Near East. W.W. Norton & Company Press. ISBN 0-393-00275-6. 
  • Moscati, Sabatino (1980). An Introduction to the Comparative Grammar of Semitic Languages, Phonology and Morphology. Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 3-447-00689-7. 
  • Parker, Simon B. (editor) (1997). Ugaritic Narrative Poetry: Writings from the Ancient World Society of Biblical Literature. Atlanta: Scholars Press. ISBN 0-7885-0337-5. 
  • Segert, Stanislav (1997). A Basic Grammar of the Ugaritic Language. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03999-8. 
  • Sivan, Daniel (1997). A Grammar of the Ugaritic Language (Handbook of Oriental Studies/Handbuch Der Orientalistik). Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-04-10614-6.  A more concise grammar.
  • Tropper, J. (2000). Ugartische Grammatik, AOAT 273. Münster, Ugarit Verlag.  Online Review of Tropper 2000 by Dennis Pardee.
  • Woodard, Roger D. (editor) (2008). The Ancient Languages of Syria-Palestine and Arabia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521684986. 

External links


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

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Wikipedia

Proper noun

Singular
Ugaritic

Plural
-

Ugaritic

  1. The Northwest Semitic language of the ancient city of Ugarit in Syria. Extinct since 1100 BC, it was written in cuneiform.

See also








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