- Note: vowels in this article are reconstructed via comparative Semitics.
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 noun–adjective (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.
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 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 is based on (like all Semitic languages) triconsonantal roots. Affixes inserted into the root form different meanings. Taking the root RGM (which means "to say") for example:
|1st||STEM-tu or STEM-tī||ʼa-STEM|
|RaGaMtu or RaGaMtī||َʼaRGuMu|
Ugaritic verbs occur in 5 moods:
- These are reconstructed for the imperfect simple active pattern (G stem).
- Also considered a subjunctive.
Ugaritic verbs occur in 10 reconstructed patterns or binyanim:
|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||yapaʻilu||šupʻila||yupaʻilu|
|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)||(?)||(?)|
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).
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Independent personal pronounsEdit
|1st||ʼannu, ʼannāku "I"|
|2nd||masculine||ʼatta "you"||ʼattumā "you two"||ʼattum- "you all"|
|3rd||masculine||huwa "he"||humā "they"||hum- "they"|
Suffixed (or enclitic) pronounsEdit
|1st||-ya "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 "hers"||-hin(n)a "their"|
The following is a table of Ugaritic numerals:
- Huehnergard, John (2011). A Grammar of Akkadian, 3rd ed. Eisenbrauns. ISBN 1-5750-6941-5.
- Moscati, Sabatino (1980). An Introduction to the Comparative Grammar of Semitic Languages, Phonology and Morphology. Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 3-447-00689-7.
- Segert, Stanislav (1997). A Basic Grammar of the Ugaritic Language. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03999-8.
- Woodard, Roger D. (ed.) (2008). The Ancient Languages of Syria-Palestine and Arabia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-68498-6.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
- Ugarit and the Bible (An excerpt from an online introductory course on Ugaritic grammar (the Quartz Hill School of Theology's course noted in the links below); includes a cursory discussion on the relationship between Ugaritic and Old Testament/Hebrew Bible literature.)
- Introduction to Ugaritic Grammar (Quartz Hill School of Theology)
- Unicode Chart