Amorite language

Amorite
Native to ancient Mesopotamia, by the Amorites
Extinct 2nd millennium BC
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Linguist list
17e

Amorite is an early Northwest Semitic language, spoken by the Amorite tribes prominent in ancient Near Eastern history. It is known exclusively from non-Akkadian proper names recorded by Akkadian scribes during periods of Amorite rule in Babylonia (end of the 3rd and beginning of the 2nd millennium), notably from Mari, and to a lesser extent Alalakh, Tell Harmal, and Khafajah. Occasionally such names are also found in early Egyptian texts; and one place-name — "Sənīr" (שְׂנִיר) for Mount Hermon — is known from the Bible (Deut. 3:9), and oddly enough may be Indo-European in origin (possibly due to Hittite influence). Notable characteristics include:

  • The usual Northwest Semitic imperfective-perfective distinction is found — e.g. Yantin-Dagan, 'Dagon gives' (ntn); Raṣa-Dagan, 'Dagon was pleased' (rṣy). It included a 3rd-person suffix -a (unlike Akkadian or Hebrew), and an imperfect vowel -a-, as in Arabic rather than the Hebrew and Aramaic -i-.
  • There was a verb form with a geminate second consonant — e.g. Yabanni-Il, 'God creates' (root bny).
  • In several cases where Akkadian has š, Amorite, like Hebrew and Arabic, has h, thus hu 'his', -haa 'her', causative h- or ʼ- (I. Gelb 1958).
  • The 1st-person perfect is in -ti (singular), -nu (plural), as in the Canaanite languages.

Sources

  • D. Cohen, Les langues chamito-semitiques, CNRS: Paris 1985.
  • I. Gelb, "La lingua degli amoriti", Academia Nazionale dei Lincei. Rendiconti 1958, no. 8, 13, pp. 143–163.
  • H. B. Huffmon. Amorite Personal Names in the Mari Texts. A Structural and Lexical Study, Baltimore 1965.
  • Remo Mugnaioni. "Notes pour servir d’approche à l’amorrite" Travaux 16 – La sémitologie aujourd’hui, Cercle de Linguistique d’Aix-en-Provence, Centre des sciences du language, Aix-en-Provence 2000, p. 57-65.
  • M. P. Streck, Das amurritische Onomastikon der altbabylonischen Zeit. Band 1: Die Amurriter, Die onomastische Forschung, Orthographie und Phonologie, Nominalmorphologie. Alter Orient und Altes Testament Band 271/1, Münster 2000.
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