Universiteit Leiden

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Benjamin Suchard


Dr. B.D. Suchard
+31 71 527 2125

Historical linguist with a specialization in Biblical Hebrew and a background in Indo-European. My research focuses on phonological and morphological reconstruction in all branches of Semitic, as well as the (pre-)history of the reading traditions of the Hebrew Bible.

More information about Benjamin Suchard


The Aramaic sections of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) reveal discrepancies between the consonantal spelling and the way the text is read. Since these discrepancies cannot result from mere sound change, this shows that a different Aramaic dialect was imposed on the reading tradition at some point before it became canonized. In the research project 'The origins of the Biblical Aramaic reading tradition', I aim to reconstruct the dialect underlying this traditional pronunciation and investigate what it can tell us about the historical background of the Hebrew Bible and the birth of Rabbinic Judaism.

My PhD dissertation identified the regular sound laws conditioning the development of the vocalic phonemes from Proto-Northwest-Semitic to Biblical Hebrew.

I am also interested in the rest of the Semitic language family and have done some work on the Modern South Arabian and Ethiosemitic languages and the reconstruction of Proto-Semitic. 

Curriculum vitae

2017–present: Postdoc (Leiden University), project: ‘The origins of the Biblical Aramaic reading tradition’.

2016–present: Managing editor of Arabian Epigraphic Notes.

2016–2017: Lecturer in Hebrew & Aramaic and Linguistics (Leiden University).

2012–2016: PhD in Linguistics (cum laude, Leiden University), dissertation: ‘The development of the Biblical Hebrew vowels’, supervised by prof. dr. H. Gzella and prof. dr. A. Lubotsky.

2010–2012: Research MA in Linguistics, Structure and Variation in the Languages of the World (cum laude, Leiden University), thesis: ‘Regularizing the Canaanite Shift’, supervised by prof. dr. H. Gzella.

2008–2010: Propedeutical exam in Philosophy (Leiden University).

2007–2010: BA in Comparative Indo-European Linguistics (cum laude, Leiden University), thesis: ‘Leentjeburen, Ontlening uit het Iraans als mogelijke herkomst van onverwachte retroflexe nasalen in het Sanskrit, Met appendix lijst van Iraanse, niet-Indo-Arische wortels’, supervised by prof. dr. A. Lubotsky; minor in Comparative Semitics. 

Grants and awards

Grant for postdoctoral research from the Stichting Studiecentrum voor Judaica en Hebraica L. Fuks. 


  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Univ Centre for Linguistics
  • LUCL Taalwetenschap

Work address

Reuvensplaats 3-4
2311 BE Leiden
Room number 1.18


Guest researcher

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Univ Centre for Linguistics
  • LUCL diversen


  • KU Leuven Postdoctoral Researcher
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