Lesson 07

G-stem Prefix Conjugation

The form of the G-stem prefix conjugation is yQTL-. The internal vowels of the verb vary depending on verbal root. Some roots follow the yaQTul- pattern; others follow the yiQTal- pattern. The {y} of the yQTL form represents the pronominal element, i.e. the subject of the verb. No other subject is required in the sentence, although it often does. Some of the paradigm forms show suffixal elements, such as a long vowel or –na.

 

singular

dual

plural

3m

yaktubu, ‘he writes’

yaktubā(na)

taktubā(na)

yaktubū(na) (only poetry); else taktubū(na)

3f

taktubu, ‘she writes’

taktubā(na)

taktub(ā)na?

2m

taktubu, ‘you write’

taktubā(na)

taktubū(na)

2f

taktubī(na), ‘you write’

taktubna

1c

ʾaktubu, ‘I write’

naktubā

naktubu

The Meaning of the Prefix Conjugation

The prefix conjugation expresses incomplete action, i.e. imperfective aspect. Aspect is different than verbal tense (past, future, etc.). Incomplete action can be placed in a past tense time frame or a future tense time frame. In contrast to the suffix conjugation, which expresses a complete action, the prefix conjugation should be understood as expressing ongoing, incomplete action. It also expresses certain verbal moods (introduced below). In the narrative poetry of the mythological texts, the prefix conjugation continues the main strand of the narrative. The suffix conjugation is used in the mythological texts to describe actions that occur beyond the context of the main narrative and to indicate a shift in who is speaking. The usage of the verbal conjugations in the prose texts seems to be more regular according to perfective and imperfective aspect and not according to the poetic and artistic features of mythological narration.

Particles of Existence and Non-Existence

The particle of existence occurs in two forms, ı͗ṯ and ı͗ṯt. Based on available data, the two forms do not represent gender or person as would a verb. These are ‘frozen forms’ that occur in free variation. The particles translate as ‘there is’ or ‘there are’ based on context. These are not the Ugaritic verb ‘to be.’

hm ı͗ṯt šmt hm ı͗ṯt ʿẓm, /himma ʾiṯatu šamittu himma ʾiṯatu ʿaẓmu/, ‘whether there is fat; whether there is bone’ (RS 3.322+ iii 4).

bnšm dt ı͗ṯ bd rb ʿprm, /bunušūma dūti ʾiṯu bîdê rabbi ʿaparīma/, ‘men who are in the hands of the chief of the ʿpr-persons.’(RS 29.097:1)

When used in a clause with the preposition {l}, the particle of existence communicates possession. The noun or pronoun that follows the preposition is the owner.

bnšm dt ı͗ṯ a͗lpm lhm, /bunušūma dūti ʾiṯu ʾalapūma lêhuma/, ‘men who have cattle’ (RS 18.293:title)

The translation of this phrase is rather oversimplified to make good English. More literally, it says, ‘men who there is cattle for them.’ But this is not good English, thus the combination of the particle of existence with {l} preposition is better translated with the verb, ‘to have.’

mnm ı͗ṯ l ʿbdk, /mannama ʾiṯu lê ʿabdika/, ‘whatever your servant has’ (RS 29.093:29)

Note that possession can be expressed without the particle of existence.

bt mlk . ı͗tbd . d šbʿ a͗ḫm . lh, /bêtu malki ʾitabida dī šabʿu ʾaḫḫīma lêhu/, ‘the house of the king has perished, he who had seven brothers’ (RS 2.[003]+ i 7-9).

Negation

l, /lā/, negative particle, ‘do not…’; lā occurs before nonverbal clauses, SC verbs, and PC verbs

NV: l ı͗b ypʿ l bʿl, / lā ʾêbu yapaʿa lê baʿli/, ‘no enemy has arisen against Baʿlu’ (RS 2.[014]+ 5-6)

SC: b ph rgm l yṣa͗, /bi pîhu rigmu lā yaṣaʾa/, ‘the word had not gone out from his mouth’ (RS 3.367 iv 6ʹ)

SC: w l ʿrbt bk l ʿrbt ʿmy, /wa lā ʿarabat bika lā ʿarabat ʿimmaya/, ‘If she does not guarantee you, (or) does not come to you…’ (RS 94.2406:28-29)

PC: w tḥtk l tqnn ʿqrb, /wa taḥtaka lā taqānīnu ʿaqrabu/, ‘so that beneath you the scorpion does not stand up (RS 92.2014:4-5)

a͗l, /ʾal/, negative particle, ‘do not…’; ʾal tends to communicate negative commands

w a͗t u͗my a͗l tdḥṣ, /wa ʾatti ʾummiya ʾal tidḥaṣi/, ‘Now, as for you my mother, do not fret’ (RS 16.379:20-21)

ı͗n, /ʾênu/, particle of non-existence, ‘there is no…’ The particle of non-existence ı͗n, /ʾênu/, occurs in the same syntaxes are the particle of existence.

ı͗n šd lhm, /ʾênu šadû lêhumu/, ‘they do not have a field’ (RS 17.343B:1)

ı͗n bt l bʿl k ı͗lm, /ʾênu bêtu lê baʿli ka ʾilīma/ ‘Baʾlu does not have a house like the (other) gods’ (RS 2.[014]+ v 35)

Extended forms with enclitic particle are attested with the same meaning.

mḏrġlm dt ı͗nn bd tlmyn, ‘mḏrġl-persons who are not in the hands of Talmiyānu’ (RS 18.098:1-2)

hm ı͗nnm nḫtu͗ w la͗k, /himma ʾênunama naḫtaʾū wa laʾaka/ ‘If they were not defeated, then send word’ (RS 4.4759-10)

Other expanded forms include: ı͗nm, ı͗nmm, and ı͗nny

 The form ı͗nd, /ʾênudū/, refers to ‘no one, nobody.’

w ı͗nd ytn ly, /wa ʾênudū yatana layya/, ‘Nobody gave (any) to me’ (RS 94.2284:11)

bl, /balû/, negative particle expressing nothingness or a lack, ‘not, no’

bl . a͗št . u͗rbt . bbhtm, /balû ʾašitu ʾurubbata bi bahatīma/, ‘Shouldn’t I place a window in the house?’ (RS 2.[014] v 61)

Lack of possession is indicated with the combination of bl + ı͗ṯ + l

bl ı͗ṯ bn lh km a͗ḫh, /balû ʾiṯu binu lêhu kama ʾaḫḫihu/, ‘(Should) he not have a son like his brother?’ (RS 2.[004] i 20ʹ)

Verbal Mood

The prefix conjugation expresses verbal mood. Sometimes the mood is marked by the final vowel. In general, the yQTLu form of the prefix conjugation communicates the indicative, including notions of continuation, inception, and iteration. The yQTLa form communicates the volitive, although this form may be limited to poetic usage. Forms with no final vowel, yQTLø, seem to occur in free variation with the yQTLu form with no discernable difference. Some interpret the yQTLø form as a perfective form.

Vocabulary

Verbs:

√B-ʿ-L, ‘to make, to manufacture’

√D-M-ʿ, ‘to shed tears, weep, sob’

√Ḥ-B-Q, ‘to embrace’

√Ḥ-R-Ṯ, ‘to plow, to till’

√Ḫ-B-Ṯ, ‘to do manual labor (possibly as a subordinate)’

Nouns:

bṯn, /baṯnu/, ‘serpent’

gšm, /gišmu/, ‘storm’

gpn, /gapnu/, ‘vine, rope’

grn, /gurnu/, ‘threshing floor’

ḥdr, /ḥuduru/, ‘room (of a house)’

khn, /kāhinu/, ‘priest’

nḥl, /naḥlu/, ‘heir’

rb, /rabbu/, ‘chief; leader’

Exercises

A. Vocalize and translate

1. bnšm dt ı͗nn bd rb khnm

2. bt . d . ı͗ṯ . ḥdrm

3. nḥl d . ı͗ṯ l . krt

4. dbḥ . khn . ṯlṯ . šm

5. a͗nk . ḥršt . mrkbt . mlk

6. šmʿt . g . a͗bk

7. mnkm ḫbṯ . b . gty

8. ḥrṯ . bnšm . šd . b . a͗lphm

9. a͗t . gršt . a͗bk . l . ḥdr . btk

10. l . dmʿt . ʿl . ksp

B. Transliterate, Vocalize, and Translate RS 94.2965:1-14

Notes:

a͗gny, /ʾaganāya/, a place name

ybnn, /yabninu/, the name of a powerful person from Ugarit

kwr, /kiwiru/, an uncertain reference, possibly a geographic place

Continue to Lesson Eight