Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BBR 24:2 (2014) p. 247
Mark E. Cohen. An English to Akkadian Companion to the Assyrian Dictionaries. Bethesda, MD: CDL, 2011. Pp. xii + 238. ISBN 978-1-934309-36-0. $50.00 paper.
This volume represents a helpful tool for biblical scholars who occasionally want to dabble in comparative Semitics, and, more specifically, the Akkadian language. In his preface, the author unequivocally recognizes the immensity of this sort of enterprise, considering the two and a half millennia of language development, significant dialectical and geographical variations, and the development of specialized vocabulary. Cohen only considers his volume as a “gateway” (p. v) into the three dictionaries that represent the foundation of his work, namely The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (CAD), A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian, edited by Black and Postgate (CDA), and the Assyrian-English-Assyrian Dictionary by S. Parpola et al. (AEAD). While CDA is based on the three-volume German Akkadisches Handwörterbuch (AHw) by Wolfram von Soden, very little German-speaking scholarship has found its way into the present volume. For example, there is only one German bibliographic reference (Anais Schuster-Brandis, Steine als Schutz- und Heilmittel: Untersuchung zu ihrer Verwendung in der Beschwörungskunst Mesopotamiens im 1. Jt. v. Chr. [AOAT 46; Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2008]) and AHw is only interacted with through the significantly condensed CDA. I missed references to a volume with a similar focus by Thomas R. Kammerer and Dirk Schidwerski, Deutsch-Akkadisches Wörterbuch (AOAT 255; Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 1998), which, unfortunately, is currently out of print.
In order to accomplish consistency, Cohen opted to follow CAD’s transcription scheme and also organized synonyms under one main entry (with individual terms pointing to the main entry). While not foolproof, this enables the user to look at larger domains, even though it is not technically a semantic domain approach. Cohen also included specialized categories, as for example, vegetables or geometry (or horse, reptile, and stone, cf. p. vi). The entry on vegetables (p. 224) contains two Akkadian terms generically describing this class of plants (that is, eršūtu and išqū) but then lists a large number of entries, including small vegetables, dried vegetables, vegetable garden, vegetable foodstuff, as well as specific vegetable types. Each of the individual vegetable type (such as lettuce, dill, or leek) is also included in the regular alphabetic sequence in the dictionary proper.
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