An Introduction to Ugaritic.

Author:Lam, Joseph
Position:Book review

An Introduction to Ugaritic. By John Huehnergard. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 2012. Pp. xviii + 246, 51 pits. $69.95.

As indicated in its preface, this work began over twenty-five years ago as an outline of Ugaritic grammar for use by Huehnergard's students at Harvard (and, in time, by students of many of his colleagues at other institutions), but now, at long last, it is being made available widely. In contrast to the time when the outline was conceived, it now makes its arrival in a period of relative glut in the production of introductory grammars of Ugaritic, with at least four others (not counting re-editions) having appeared since the turn of the millennium. These include (in reverse chronological order): Michael Williams, Basics of Ancient Ugaritic: A Concise Grammar, Workbook, and Lexicon (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2012); Pierre Bordreuil and Dennis Pardee, A Manual of Ugaritic (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2009) (a translation of Manuel d'Ougaritique, 2 vols. [Paris: Guethner, 2004]); William M. Schniedewind and Joel H. Hunt, A Primer on Ugaritic: Language, Culture, and Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007); and Josef Tropper, Ugaritisch: Kurzgefasste Grammatik mit Ubungstexten und Glossar (Munster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2002).

Nonetheless, Huehnergard's Introduction is a welcome addition to the mix, not only for its potential usefulness for pedagogy, but also because it represents a summary statement on the essentials of Ugaritic grammar from a leading scholar in the field.

After a succinct introduction ([section]I, pp. 1-18) that treats matters such as the place of Ugaritic within the Semitic languages, the text corpus, and other foundational matters pertaining to the study of Ugaritic, the grammar is presented under the familiar rubrics of "orthography" ([section]II, pp. 19-22), "phonology" ([section]IH, pp. 23-30), "morphology" ([section]IV, pp. 31-80), and "syntax" ([section]V, pp. 81-84). Then, after a brief discussion of "features of poetic texts" ([section]VI, pp. 85-87) come two sections containing exercises for the learner: "Basic Vocabulary and Practice Exercises" ([section] VII, pp. 89-98) and "Selection of Texts" ([section]VIII, pp. 99-138).

The exercises in [section]VII (mostly short sentences and phrases) are designed to reinforce specific sections of the grammar, while the chrestomathy in [section]VIII (consisting of six letters, four legal texts, two administrative/economic texts, and...

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