"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more
The goals of this workshop are to encourage the historical and comparative study of the Semitic languages and to disseminate the results of Semitic linguistics outside the small community of Semitists. Unlike regular conferences, the workshop allows for the presentation of long and complex studies and fosters debates between the participants. Comparative historical Semitic linguistics was once one of the cornerstones of historical linguistics, of ancient Near East studies, and of biblical studies. Since the heydays of Nöldeke, Wright, Barth, and Brockelmann, however, it has become less central to those fields of study. Through this workshop and similar workshops in the future, we hope to rekindle interest in the study of Semitic linguistics and its relevance to general and historical linguistics and its contribution to the philological study of the ancient world. For these reasons, too, most of the participants have been from a younger generation of scholars.