Customer Review

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nightmarish Translation Exercises; Grammatical Overkill, February 10, 2012
This review is from: Grammar of Akkadian (Hardcover)
Having used this book to learn Akkadian in a classroom setting and having seen many classmates use it, I would say that we still don't have an effective textbook for introductory Akkadian. Huehnergard's grammar is better than its predecessors. The author was criticized by his colleagues for incorporating initial translation exercises with made up sentences, from English to Akkadian and vice versa. This broke with the dogma that only real ancient texts were permissible. The best features of this book are Huehnergard's inclusion of a key and those simplified exercises at the beginning.

This book has several significant shortcomings. It throws far too much detail at beginning students. Already in the first semester, students are expected to read facsimiles of cuneiform texts that jump from period to period and from genre to genre. These exercises are a bewildering mishmash of run together words, handwriting eccentricities, spelling mistakes, broken tablets, and missing contexts. Students spend inordinate amounts of time just trying to figure out the words breaks in their texts. The majority of students who use this text drop the class before the end of the semester, convinced that no mere mortal can learn Akkadian.

Akkadian could benefit from more effective learning tools based on modern "second language acquisition" research, which are becoming increasingly common in Hebrew and Latin. Initial grammar instruction should be streamlined and simplified. As in the instruction of Greek or Latin or Hebrew, initial reading exercises should be written with standardized, typeset characters, with word breaks clearly indicated.
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