Contact Languages of the Ancient Near East – Three more Case Studies (Ugaritic-Hurrian, Hurro-Akkadian and Canaano-Akkadian)

In: Journal of Language Contact
Alexander AndrasonUniversity of Stellenbosch,

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Juan-Pablo Vitacsicilc Madrid

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This article describes and analyzes three situations of linguistic contact in the Ancient Near East, taking as its staring point three theoretical studies on contact languages which have been developed recently: the framework of mixed languages (Bakker and Matras, ; Meakins, ), the theory of written language contact (Johanson, ) and the approach to contact among genetically related languages (Epps, Huehnergard and Pat-El, ). The authors argue that the contact systems selected for this article (Ugaritic-Hurrian, Hurro-Akkadian and Canaano-Akkadian), although distinct from the grammatical and sociolinguistic perspective, can all be viewed as expressions of the same dynamic phenomena, where each variety of mixing corresponds to a different stage of a universal continuum of languages in the situation of merger. Consequently, they can be located along the universal cline of mixing: Ugaritic-Hurrian matches the initial stage of intermingling, Hurro-Akkadian reflects gradually more intense blending, and Canaano-Akkadian corresponds to the phase of a profound fusion of the two source codes. By examining and comparing the three cases of mixing, the authors introduce new insights to the general discussion on mixed languages, written language contact and relevance of genetic relation in language intermingling, thus corroborating and/or refining certain hypotheses and propositions that have previously been formulated within the latest theoretical studies.

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