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An article published in the French journal Revue d’Assyriologie et d’archéologie orientale recently translated two cuneiform tablets from Iraq dating to 1800 BC, demonstrating that they contain a translation of common words and phrases, from Canaanite into Akkadian. While we know of only a few inscriptions in ancient Canaanite, a language that there is an incomplete knowledge of, Akkadian is well-known to scholars. These tablets act like a Canaanite-Akkadian dictionary, providing translations of phrases related to meeting people, addressing a king, and preparing food. For example, the Haaretz article below notes that the phrase “Fetch the table” is translated as “Bring us bread,” converting the idiom from one language to the other. The discovery will add a great deal to the knowledge of ancient Canaanite and various related Semitic languages. Moreover, it demonstrates that by the second millennium BC, a language closely resembling Hebrew was in common use.


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