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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: June 2012

7 - Grammatical Precís



The Ugaritic alphabet consists of 30 cuneiform signs:

ʾ(ʾa ʾi ʾu) b g d ḏ h w z ḥ ḫ ṭ ẓ y k l m n s ṣ ʿǵ p ṣ q r š t ṯ.

This order is used in most dictionaries as well as in the glossary of this primer. Ugaritic school texts (see §2.4.2; Figure 2.1), which were discovered after Ugaritic scholars had established the above order, which follows the Hebrew alphabet apart from the additional letters, used a slightly different order.

The alphabet does not indicate vowels except for the three aleph-signs. Two of these graphemes (ʾi ʾu) occur at the end the alphabet in school tablets, which suggests that the first aleph sign (ʾa) was original and omnivalent and that at a later stage in the language two symbols were added to differentiate vowels following a glottal catch (i.e., the aleph). This is an early application of matres lectionis, or vowel letters. The three alephs reflect the following vowel (whether short or long), except when the aleph closes the syllable (i.e., has no following vowel), in which case the ʾi-aleph is used.

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