Mood and Modality in Hurrian
A Dissertation Presented to The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations by Dennis R. M. Campbell
Advisor: Theo van den Hout, Professor Hittitology
© 2007 All Rights Reserved
The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
The University of Chicago
Hurrian has long been recognized as being unlike the better known Semitic and Indo-European languages of the ancient Near East. As both an agglutinating and highly ergative language, Hurrian is typologically interesting to both scholars of the ancient world as well as to those of modern linguistics. Much work has been devoted to decoding the complex morpho-syntax of this language. As a result, our ability to work with Hurrian texts has increased dramatically over the years. However, a number of areas have received little to no attention. This dissertation fills one such gap, namely the non-indicative or modal system. Hurrian has at least eight distinct non-indicative or modal morphemes. While some attention has been paid to these verbal suffixes, no attempt had been made to systematically describe the forms and their functions. The goal of my dissertation is to address this very problem and provide as complete as possible description of these modal forms.
Within this study, each modal morpheme is treated in full as to its form (i.e. phonological shape) and its function. A significant portion of this study is also dedicated to the study of non-indicative verbs in context. A close examination of modal forms at the morphological level has brought to light a hitherto unrecognized modal ending, the optative. A further result was the discovery that the non-indicative verbs in Hurrian distinguish between two voices, an active and a “passive.” Non-indicative endings affect not just the verb to which they are attached, but the clause (or even clauses) as a whole. This detailed philological work is based largely on the translation of previously unelucidated passages. The result of my work is both the more nuanced reading of many modal endings, and, in certain cases, the discovery of new functions.
The full text of this dissertation is available in pdf format at:
Dennis R. M. Campbell ©2007
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Revised: March 10, 2009