Note: vowels in this article are reconstructed via comparative Semitics.

Ugaritic is an extinct Northwest Semitic language. This article describes the grammar of the Ugaritic language. For more information regarding the Ugaritic language in general, see Ugaritic language.

Overview

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 [also, note the possibility of a locative case]) ; three numbers: (singular, dual, and plural); and verb aspects similar to those found in other Northwest 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 basic qualities of the vowel, the case system, the word order of the Proto-Semitic ancestor, and the lack of the definite article.

Grammar

Word order

The word order for Ugaritic is Subject Verb Object (SVO), Verb Subject Object (VSO), possessed–possessor (NG), and nounadjective (NA).

Morphology

Ugaritic, like all Semitic languages, exhibits a unique pattern of stems consisting typically of "triliteral", or 3-consonant consonantal roots (2- and 4-consonant roots also exist), from which nouns, adjectives, and verbs are formed in various ways: e.g. by inserting vowels, doubling consonants, and/or adding prefixes, suffixes, or infixes.

Verbs

Aspects

Verbs in Ugaritic have 2 aspects: perfect for completed action (with pronominal suffixes) and imperfect for uncompleted action (with pronominal prefixes and suffixes). Verb formation in Ugaritic (like all Semitic languages) is based on triconsonantal roots. Affixes inserted into the root form different meanings. Taking the root RGM (which means "to say") for example:

Morphology of Ugaritic verbs (in the simple active pattern (G stem))
Perfect Imperfect
Singular
1st STEM-tu or STEM-tī ʼa-STEM
RaGaMtu or RaGaM َʼaRGuMu
2nd masculine STEM-ta ta-STEM
RaGaMta taRGuMu
feminine STEM-ti ta-STEM-īna
RaGaMti taRGuMīna
3rd masculine STEM-a ya-STEM
RaGaMa yaRGuMu
feminine STEM-at ta-STEM
RaGaMat taRGuMu
Dual
1st STEM-nayā na-STEMā
RaGaMnayā naRGuMā
2nd masculine
& feminine
STEM-tumā ta-STEM-ā(ni)
RaGaMtumā taRGuMā(ni)
3rd masculine STEM ya-STEM-ā(ni)
RaGaMā yaRGuMā(ni)
feminine STEM-atā ta-STEM-ā(ni)
RaGaMatā taRGuMā(ni)
Plural
1st STEM-nū na-STEM
RaGaM naRGuMu
2nd masculine STEM-tum(u) ta-STEM-ū(na)
RaGaMtum(u) taRGuMū(na)
feminine STEM-tin(n)a ta-STEM-na
RaGaMtin(n)a taRGuMna
3rd masculine STEM ya-STEM-ū(na)
RaGaMū yaRGuMū(na)
feminine STEM ta-STEM-na
RaGaMā taRGuMna

Moods

Ugaritic verbs occur in 5 moods:

Mood Verb[1]
Indicative yargumu
Jussive yargum
Volitive[2] yarguma
Energic 1 yargum(a)n
Energic 2 yargumanna
  1. ^ These are reconstructed for the imperfect simple active pattern (G stem).
  2. ^ Also considered a subjunctive.

Doubly Weak Verbs

In Ugaritic, "doubly weak verbs" refer to verbs whose roots contain two weak (or guttural) consonants. These verbs exhibit irregular patterns in their conjugation due to the inherent instability of the weak consonants, often leading to phonetic variations. This phenomenon is akin to that observed in other Semitic languages, including Hebrew.

For instance, the Ugaritic verb ḥwy, similar to Hebrew היה (h-y-h), "to be" or "to live," is an example of a doubly weak verb. Due to its weak consonants, this verb can undergo phonetic changes, such as the assimilation of waw (w) to yod (y), especially in the absence of an intervening vowel, leading to forms like ḥyy. This characteristic impacts the verb's inflection, resulting in variations that are atypical compared to regular (strong) verbs.[1]

Patterns

Ugaritic verbs occur in 10 reconstructed patterns or binyanim:

Verb Patterns
Active voice Passive voice
Perfect (3rd sg. masc.) Imperfect (3rd sg. masc.) Perfect (3rd sg. masc.) Imperfect (3rd sg. masc.)
G stem (simple) paʻala, paʻila, paʻula yapʻulu, yapʻalu, yapʻilu puʻila yupʻalu
Gt stem (simple reflexive) ʼiptaʻala yaptaʻalu (?) (?)
D stem (factitive) paʻʻala yapaʻʻilu puʻʻila yupaʻʻalu
tD stem (factitive reflexive) tapaʻʻala yatapaʻʻalu (?) (?)
N stem (reciprocal passive) nap(a)ʻala yappaʻilu <<(*yanpaʻilu) n/a
L stem (intensive or factitive) pāʻala yupāʻilu (?) (?)
Š stem (causative) šapʻala yašapʻilu[1] šupʻila yupaʻilu[2]
Št stem (causative reflexive) ʼištapʻala yaštapʻilu (?) (?)
C stem (causative internal pattern) (?) yapʻilu n/a
R stem (factitive) (biconsonantal roots) paʻlala (e.g. karkara) yapaʻlalu (e.g. yakarkaru) (?) (?)
  1. ^ Gordon, Cyrus (1947). Ugaritic Handbook, I. Pontifical Biblical Institute. p. 72.
  2. ^ yušapʻalu?

Nouns

Nouns in Ugaritic can be categorized according to their inflection into: cases (nominative, genitive, and accusative), state (absolute and construct), gender (masculine and feminine), and number (singular, dual, and plural).

Case

Ugaritic has three grammatical cases corresponding to: nominative, genitive, and accusative. Normally, singular nouns take the ending -u in the nominative, -i in the genitive and -a in the accusative. Using the word malk- (king) and malkat- (queen) for example:

Nominative Genitive Accusative
Masculine malku malki malka
Feminine malkatu malkati malkata

As in Arabic, some exceptional nouns (known as diptotes) have the suffix -a in the genitive. There is no Ugaritic equivalent for Classical Arabic nunation or Akkadian mimation.

State

Nouns in Ugaritic occur in two states: absolute and construct. If a noun is followed by a genitival attribute (noun in the genitive or suffixed pronoun) it becomes a construct (denoting possession). Otherwise, it is in the absolute state. Ugaritic, unlike Arabic and Hebrew, has no definite article.

Gender

Nouns which have no gender marker are for the most part masculine, although some feminine nouns do not have a feminine marker. However, these denote feminine beings such as ʼumm- (mother). /-t/ is the feminine marker which is directly attached to the base of the noun.

Number

Ugaritic distinguishes between nouns based on quantity. All nouns are either singular when there is one, dual when there are two, and plural if there are three or more.

Singular

The singular has no marker and is inflected according to its case.

Dual

The marker for the dual in the absolute state appears as /-m/. However, the vocalization may be reconstructed as /-āmi/ in the nominative (such as malkāmi "two kings") and /-ēmi/ for the genitive and accusative (e.g. malkēmi). For the construct state, it is /-ā/ and /-ē/ respectively.

Plural

Ugaritic has only regular plurals (i.e. no broken plurals). Masculine absolute state plurals take the forms /-ūma/ in the nominative and /-īma/ in the genitive and accusative. In the construct state they are /-ū/ and /-ī/ respectively. The female afformative plural is /-āt/ with a case marker probably following the /-t/, giving /-ātu/ for the nominative and /-āti/ for the genitive and accusative in both absolute and construct state.

Adjectives

Adjectives follow the noun and are declined exactly like the preceding noun.

Personal pronouns

Independent personal pronouns

Independent personal pronouns in Ugaritic are as follows (some forms are lacking because they are not in the corpus of the language):

Person singular dual Plural
1st ʼanā, ʼannāku "I" ʾanaḥnu "we"
2nd masculine ʼatta "you" ʼattumā "you two" ʼattumu "you all"
feminine ʼatti "you" ʼattina "you all"
3rd masculine huwa[1] "he" humā "they" humu[1] "they"
feminine hiya[1] "she" hinna "they"
  1. ^ a b c 3rd person independent pronouns can occur in the genitive or accusative but are suffixed with a /-t/.

Suffixed (or enclitic) pronouns

Suffixed (or enclitic) pronouns (mainly denoting the genitive and accusative) are as follows:

Person Singular Dual Plural
1st -ya[1] "my" -nayā "our" -na, -nu "our"
2nd masculine -ka "your" -kumā "your" -kum- "your"
feminine -ki "your" -kin(n)a "your"
3rd masculine -hu "his" -humā "their" -hum- "their"
feminine -ha "her" -hin(n)a "their"
  1. ^ -nī is used for the nominative, i.e. following a verb denoting the subject.

Numerals

The following is a table of Ugaritic numerals:

Number Masculine Feminine
1 ʼaḥḥadu ʼaḥattu
2 ṯinā[1] ṯittā[1]
3 ṯalāṯu ṯalāṯatu
4 ʼarbaʻu ʼarbaʻatu
5 ḫam(i)šu ḫam(i)šatu
6 ṯiṯṯu ṯiṯṯatu
7 šabʻu šabʻatu
8 ṯamānu ṯamānītu
9 tišʻu tišʻatu
10 ʻaš(a)ru ʻaš(a)ratu
20 ʻašrāma [2]
30 ṯalāṯūma [2]
100 miʼtu
200 miʼtāma
1000 ʼalpu
10000 ribbatu[2]
  1. ^ a b Segert, Stanislav (1984). A Basic Grammar of Ugaritic Language. p. 53. ISBN 9780520039995.
  2. ^ a b c Ibid., p. 54

Ordinals

The following is a table of Ugaritic ordinals:

Number Masculine Feminine
1 prʿ prʿt
2 ṯanū ṯanītu[1]
3 ṯalīṯu ṯalīṯatu
4 rabīʻu rabīʻatu
5 ḫamīšu ḫamīšatu
6 ṯadīṯu ṯadīṯatu
7 šabīʻu šabīʻatu
8 ṯamīnu ṯamīnatu
9 tašīʻu tašīʻatu
  1. ^ These are reconstructed for the imperfect simple active pattern (G stem).

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Gordon, Cyrus Herzl (1998). Ugaritic Textbook. Roma: Gregorian Biblical BookShop. p. 13. ISBN 88-7653-238-2.

References