Eblaite language

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Region Ebla
Era 3rd millennium BC[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 xeb
Linguist list
Glottolog ebla1238[2]

Eblaite /ˈɛblə.t/ (also known as Eblan ISO 639-3) is an extinct Semitic language which was used during the third millennium by the East Semitic speaking populations of Northern Syria.[3] It was named after the ancient city of Ebla, in western modern Syria.[3] Variants of the language were also spoken in Mari and Nagar.[3][4] According to Cyrus H. Gordon,[5] although scribes might have spoken it sometimes, Eblaite was probably not spoken much, being rather a written lingua franca with East and West Semitic features.

Eblaite has been described as an East Semitic language which may be very close to pre-Sargonic Akkadian; its relation with the latter is debated :

Eblaite is considered an East-Semitic language which exhibits both West-Semitic and East-Semitic features.[9][10] Grammatically, Eblaite is closer to Akkadian, but lexically and in some grammatical forms, Eblaite is closer to West-Semitic languages.[11]

The language is known from about 15,000 tablets[5] written with cuneiform script which have been found since the 1970s, mostly in the ruins of the city of Ebla.


  1. ^ Eblaite at MultiTree on the Linguist List
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Eblan". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ a b c Keith Brown, Sarah Ogilvie (2010). Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World. p. 313. 
  4. ^ Edward Lipiński (2001). Semitic Languages: Outline of a Comparative Grammar. p. 52. 
  5. ^ a b Gordon, "Amorite and Eblaite", page 101
  6. ^ Robert Hetzron (2013). The Semitic Languages. p. 7. 
  7. ^ Jerrold S. Cooper, Glenn M. Schwartz (1996). The Study of the Ancient Near East in the Twenty-first Century: The William Foxwell Albright Centennial Conference. p. 259. 
  8. ^ Krebernik, "Linguistic Classification"
  9. ^ Alan S. Kaye (1991). Semitic studies, Volume 1. p. 550. 
  10. ^ Robert Hetzron (2013). The Semitic Languages. p. 101. 
  11. ^ Watson E. Mills,Roger Aubrey Bullard (1990). Mercer Dictionary of the Bible. p. 226. 


  • A. Archi. 1987. "Ebla and Eblaite," Eblaitica 1. Ed. C.H. Gordon. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns. Pages 7–17.
  • Cyrus H. Gordon. 1997. "Amorite and Eblaite," The Semitic Languages. Ed. Robert Hetzron. New York: Routledge. Pages 100-113.
  • Manfred Krebernik. 1996. "The Linguistic Classification of Eblaite: Methods, Problems, and Results." In The Study of the Ancient Near East in the Twenty-First Century: The William Foxwell Albright Centennial Conference (eds. J.S. Cooper – G.M. Schwartz), pp. 233–249.[1]
  • G. Rubio 2006. "Eblaite, Akkadian, and East Semitic." In The Akkadian Language in its Semitic Context (ed. N.J.C. Kouwenberg and G. Deutscher. Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten), pp. 110–139.

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