SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

Ms Nadia Ait Said-Ghanem

BA Arabic (SOAS), MA Ancient Near Eastern Studies (EPHE, Paris)
  • Research


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Ms Nadia Ait Said-Ghanem
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Thesis title:
Sentence Types and Word-Order Patterns in Old Babylonian Omen Texts: An Investigation of Old Babylonian Omens Using Arabic Grammatical Theory
Year of Study:
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PhD Research

The main aim of my research is to describe the sentence structure of Old Babylonian omens using Arabic grammatical theory as a model for my descriptions.

In Arabic grammatical theory, the constituent in sentence-initial position is fundamental to identifying a sentence structure. Three main types of sentences are identified in the Arabic grammatical model: the nominal, the verbal and the prepositional sentence. It is this tripartite model, its frame and concepts, which are used in my thesis to discuss the protases and apodoses of omens and describe their syntax.

Using this Semitic lens leads to reassessing definitions and linguistic concepts accepted as standard principles in Assyriological grammars. Descriptions such as the “casus pendens”, preposing, left-dislocation, and topicalisation are reviewed in my study.

I have chosen to detach Arabic sentence structure theory from the language it describes (Arabic) to analyse another Semitic system (Old Babylonian) in an attempt to highlight specific characteristics of syntax in OB omens, Semitic in nature, and to begin the outline of a strictly-Semitic description of Old Babylonian grammar.


  • OB divination prayer YOS XI 22: 42–43, in NABU, March 2012


  • Arabic in Context: 400 years of Arabic in Leiden Conference, at Leiden University, November 2013, presented "Old Babylonian omen sentence constructions: investigating Old Babylonian omens using Arabic Grammatical Theory"


  • Cuneiform Studies
  • Comparative Semitic Grammar
  • Akkadian
  • Sumerian
  • Arabic
  • Ge'ez
  • Berber (Kabyle)