Saturday, January 14, 2023

Ugaritic Indefinite Pronouns: Linguistic, Social, and Textual Perspective

Indefinite pronouns (words like English anyone, anything, someone, something, etc.) have been recognized as components of Ugaritic grammar since 1934, but they have not yet been subjected to close semantic analysis. Their relative neglect in grammatical and textual studies is not surprising, as indefinite pronouns occupy a peculiar semantic area that places them somewhere between the grammar and the lexicon—a situation that has resulted in a similar neglect in grammatical treatments of many languages appearing over the last several centuries. Yet certain dimensions of their morphological, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic properties have attracted significant attention among linguistic theorists over the last several decades, and a number of useful models and approaches are now available for their more thorough analysis. Simultaneous advances in the field of Ugaritology have now brought the opportunity to apply such linguistic models to the study of Ugaritic indefinite pronouns within reach. The formal diversity of Ugaritic Indefinite Pronouns (which are more numerous and varied than those found in any other Northwest Semitic language) and their literarily significant textual distributions render their study both appropriate and necessary. In this study, I provide a linguistic description of the syntax, semantics, pragmatics, morphology, and diachrony of Ugaritic indefinite pronouns that is grounded in recent typological linguistic and formal semantic research. I situate this analysis against a diachronic (comparative Semitic) background and contextualize it by considering the social and textual distributions of Ugaritic indefinite pronominal use. The study is designed to contribute to our understanding of an important feature of Ugaritic (and Semitic) grammar and to our ability to describe the linguistic and literary contours of the Ugaritic textual corpus.



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