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Introduction to the Comparative Study of the Semitic Languages


Admission requirements

Knowledge of a Semitic language (strongly recommended) or background in linguistics.


In this class students will be introduced to the various ancient and modern Semitic languages – including Old Babylonian, Ancient Hebrew, Old Arabic, and Modern Aramaic. Students will also read academic articles dealing with each of the major language groups of Semitic.

Course objectives

After this course, students will have a good understanding of the enterprise of historical linguistics, the Semitic language family, and be able to critique academic articles in the field.
The course also contributes to the improvement of the presentation and writing skills of the students.


Timetable BA Midden-Oostenstudies

Timetable BA Oude Nabije Oostenstudies

Mode of instruction

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Course Load

5 EC x 28 hrs = 140 hrs
Seminar (13 x 2) 26
Reading and several home assignments (5 x 12) 60
Preparing the presentation 24
Term paper 30

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
Presentation 30%
Essay 70%

The essay is written in two stages: a first version which will be commented on and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the first version will lose the right to get comments and will only be graded based on their final version.
In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of “6” or higher.
The course is an integrated whole and must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.


Insufficient paper: students will be given the opportunity to review their paper.
Insufficient presentation / participation: extra reading assignment with a written report.

Paper review

For a paper review the student can make an appointment with one of the instructors.

Reading list

Will be distributed in class.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch


Mevr Dr.M.L. Folmer Dr. M. van Putten