Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Utility of Hebrew

I've discovered that, if one wants to learn any ancient Near Eastern language, Hebrew is not only useful, but essential. First of all, it makes learning the languages easier; some grammatical points, as well as the phonetic equivalents for the scripts, can be related to Hebrew and thus make for easier comprehension. Secondly, most of the grammars for ancient NE languages presuppose knowledge of Hebrew for precisely the reason above. Often equivalents for constructions or cuneiform signs, etc will be given. Even examples will be given in Hebrew of certain constructions.

On that note, since I'm taking a course on Middle Egyptian next year, I've started looking at Hebrew. I at least want to have a handle on the script-- this will most likely make learning the "alphabetic" equivalents in Egyptian easier, leaving me only to worry about the Hieroglyphic (by which I mean the picture of water actually meaning "water") and phonemic (by which I mean a sign representing more than one letter; Consonant+Consonant, eg.) aspects. When I was learning Ugaritic, I found myself wishing I had knowledge of Hebrew; it would have made learning the cuneiform signs as well as verb structures easier. In short, not only is Hebrew a beautiful language, certainly worth learning in its own right, but it also makes learning other NE languages a heck of a lot easier.

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