BAUER, HANS (1878–1937), scholar of Semitic languages. Bauer, who was born in Bavaria, studied theology and Semitic languages and in 1922 was appointed professor of Semitic languages at the University of Halle. After working on medieval Arabic philosophy (especially Al-Ghazālī), and other Arabic studies, he turned to Hebrew grammar in the context of the other Semitic languages, employing the methods developed by Indo-Germanic linguists. In his book Die Tempora im Semitischen (1910), he dealt with the Semitic tenses. He worked on the assumption (which others had made before him) that the imperfect was in the early stages of the language the only defined verbal form (i.e., the all-tempora: Aorist), while the perfect was orginally a nominal form (i.e., a type of participle: nominal), and thus close in meaning to the present tense. The nominal participle has two temporal qualities, according to the meaning of each verb: an act done now or continuously; or an act, completed in the past, whose results are felt in the present. The second quality (perfectum praesens) is likely to develop into the praeteritum. In each of the Semitic languages, one of these qualities became the primary: in Akkadian, the former (Bauer equates the form ikaššad with the perfect of the other languages); in Aramaic, Arabic, Ethiopic, and even Phoenician, the latter. As a result, the semantic field of the all-tempora form became limited in its meaning. In Akkadian it is used as the perfect, but in the other languages as the present-future. Biblical Hebrew, which Bauer considered a mixed language, in this respect stands midway: the conversive tenses reflect the Akkadian usage, while the regular tenses are comparable to the use in other Semitic languages. His view of the mixed nature of Hebrew ("early Canaanite base," close to Akkadian, with a "late layer" which is closer to the other Semitic languages) derives from certain cases of phonetic inconsistency, such as the vowels after the kof in קָם (kam) as opposed to מָקוֹם (makom) which both are in Arabic ā (qām, maqām). This problem is discussed in his book Zur Frage der Sprachmischung im Hebraeischen (1924). With Pontus Leander, he wrote the Historische Grammatik der hebraeischen Sprache des Alten Testaments (1922; repr. 1965). They also collaborated in writing the Grammatik des Biblisch-Aramaeischen (1927). In 1930 he succeeded in deciphering most of the Ugaritic alphabet embodying the results of his study in Die alphabetischen Keilschrifttexte von Ras Shamra (1936); others followed him in completing this work. Bauer also wrote a book on the origins of the alphabet, Der Ursprung des Alphabets (1937).
Wehr-Halle, in: ZDMG, 91 (1937), 175–84, obituary and bibliography; NDB, 1 (1952), 639.
[Hans Jacob Polotsky]