What’s This ”This”?

I’ve been working on a footnote to a footnote and I ran across something that, depending on what it means, may be abnormally interesting. The left edge of KTU 1.19, part of the Aqhat legend, reads,
w . hndt . yṯb . lmspr
I suppose it translates something like, “And he shall return this (that?) to the recitation (story)” but I’m very open to other ideas. (See update below)
If we follow Pradee’s (2003/4), 136-7, 365, understanding of the demonstrative pronoun hndt, it is likely feminine.
But what is the antecedent of hndt? Something in the text of the tablet? The whole tablet? Remember it is on the edge of the tablet where some administrative texts have file summaries. But if Pardee is correct, the gender of hndt could be a problem. Something else?
I suppose one should compare this with the ritual instructions in KTU 1.4 V:42-43 and KTU 1.40:35-36a.
KTU 1.4 V:42-43
w ṯb . lmspr . . k tlakn ġlmm
And return to the recitation (story), when you (pl) send boys.
KTU 1.40:35-36a
w ṯb . lmspr . m[šr]. mšr . bt . ugrt . w npy . gr / ḥmyt . ugrt . w[np]y . aṯt
And return to the recitation of “rectitude:” rectitude for the daughter of Ugarit and the well being of the foreigner (within) the walls of Ugarit and the wellbeing of the woman/wife.
Here I follow Pardee (2002), 80, 83. If you’re looking for a little controversy, see Del Olmo Lete, 149.
But w . hndt . yṯb . lmspr in KTU 1.19 isn’t in the imperative. Is it possible that mspr means something different here than in the other two examples? If it is relevant and I’m not sure it is, you might also want to look at spr hnd, “this document” in KTU 2:19:11. Just for the record, I doubt this is a file summary. But I’m not at all sire what it is. If anyone out there knows how to understand the left edge of KTU 1.19 or can direct me to some literature on the subject, I would be grateful.
Update: November 17, 2010
I’ve been thinking about this some more and have a somewhat different take on the subject. First, w . hndt . yṯb . lmspr is in the same physical location on the this tablet as is the colophon on KTU 1:17, also part of the Aqhat series. The reading order of the legend is generally taken to be KTU 1.17, KTU 1.18, KTU 1.19. If these three tablets were setting left edge out or up we would see Ilimalku’s colophon on the first, KTU 1.17, nothing of the edge of KTU 1.18 and our phrase on the same edge of KTU 1.19. If we take hndt to be the subject and translate if something like, “This (tablet) continues (returns to) the story,” really meaning, this tablet finishes the story, we can see the phrased as part of the scribal apparatus. If this is the case, then Pardee may well be wrong about the gender of hndt. So while not a file summary of the contents of the tablet, our phrase may still an archiving aid rather than an instruction to the reader.
Update: November 19, 2010
I have continued this discussion here.
References:

del Olmo Lete, Gregorio, Canaanite Religion According to the Liturgical Texts of Ugarit, Wilfred G. E. Watson, trans, Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2004
Pardee, Dennis, Ritual and Cult at Ugarit, Writings from the Ancient World, Theodore J. Lewis, ed., Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2002
Pardee, Dennis, “Josef Tropper. Ugaritische Grammatik. 1056 pp. Münster, Ugarit-Verlag, 2000. (Alter Orient und Altes Testament 273),” Archiv für Orientforschung 50 (2003/2004), 1- 404 online version

3 thoughts on “What’s This ”This”?”

  1. I googled for the Ugaritic text and I find it’s translated ‘and this (passage) should be recited once more’ in Handbook of Ugaritic studies (1999).
    “But w . hndt . yṯb . lmspr in KTU 1.19 isn’t in the imperative.”
    But if yṯb is a third person singular form, ‘one shall return’ remains a realistic translation, no?
    “But what is the antecedent of hndt?”
    It’s a good question but no different than in French when someone may say “Achetez-la!”. Naturally the use of feminine here depends heavily on context and without it, we may be left pondering on what feminine noun the demonstrative is referencing to forever.
    One thing that confuses me though is how ṯb becomes ‘to return’. Is this related to Semitic *wθb ‘to sit’ or is this a different verb altogether? If related, how would this semantic shift take place?

  2. Glen,
    I know of about a half dozen translations of this line, all of them in one why or another unsatisfying. Despite Dijkstra, 140, in the work you cited, I think one would be hard put to find a single unambiguous example (or even a very compelling ambiguous example) of a 3rd person form being used as a circumlocution for a 2nd person form in Ugaritic or any other ancient Semitic language. But see my update.
    I think you will find that ṯb and yṯb are from PS *θwb or possibility a biconsonantal root *θb and not *wθb. In some forms they become orthographically confused.

  3. “I think one would be hard put to find a single unambiguous example […] of a 3rd person form being used as a circumlocution for a 2nd person form in Ugaritic or any other ancient Semitic language.”
    I don’t see why this style of speaking can’t exist in any language: English “You must go/One must go”, French: “Tu dois partir/On doit partir”. Plus, in contexts like these, the writer isn’t really speaking directly to the solitary reader anyway but, in reality, to anyone who may happen read. So we can equally address the reader as “you (sg.)”, all readers as “you (pl.)”, or indirectly as indefinite addressees (ie. “anyone”). The choice of language changes little to the fundamental semantics involved here.
    That being said, if there’s a strong tendency towards the use of 2ps. in Ugaritic in these situations, then I suppose that must still be taken into account. I’ll ponder further.
    “I think you will find that ṯb and yṯb are from PS *θwb or possibility a biconsonantal root *θb and not *wθb. In some forms they become orthographically confused.”
    Ah, that’s it. Thanks! I suspected there was homophony behind this.

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