Literary Old Babylonian
Shlomo Izre'el (Tel-Aviv University) & Eran Cohen (The Hebrew University, Jerusalem)
Akkadian is a cover term for the Semitic languages of ancient Mesopotamia, constituting the eastern branch of the Semitic family. Akkadian, the most ancient Semitic linguistic continuum attested, was written in the cuneiform script, mainly on clay tablets. It is attested from the third millennium B.C. to the third century A.D. Linguistic research of Akkadian has been relatively scanty, and grammatical descriptions of any of the attested languages and dialects were aimed primarily for didactic purposes. Research has concentrated on phonology, and especially on morphology, which is typically Semitic. Syntactic structures and the TMA system have remained largely unexplored.
The grammatical description offered in LW/M is based on the language of narrative texts with mythological context of the Old Babylonian period (the first half of the second millennium B.C.). Considering the state of the art and the frame and goals of this series, the authors have confined themselves to a brief model of the language and to defining the basic linguistic strategies of Akkadian. As such, it may also serve as a guide to Semitic grammatical concepts.
All levels of the grammar of this language are treated together for the first time: graphonology, morphology, micro- and macro-syntax (characterizing different textemes). Some attention is given to linguistic variation, acknowledging the (albeit small) diversity within the time-space continuum of the texts which constitute this corpus. A short description of the cuneiform script will aim at giving some hint of the problems in adducing linguistic data.
This grammatical description is written with a systemic, structural perception of language in mind, which yields novel concepts in modern presentation. It is intended first and foremost for linguists for whom the language is inaccessible for various reasons and for Semitists whose expertise is not in Akkadian. However, Assyriologists will benefit from it as well, as this description is unique in its linguistic presentation, revealing important details unknown heretofore.
ISBN 9783895867385. Languages of the World/Materials 81. 133pp. 2005.