The first-known examples of Amorite-Akkadian bilingual vocabularies are published in new research by Andrew George and Manfred Krebernik.
In January 2023 two clay tablets from Mesopotamia (ancient Iraq) were published in the journal Revue d’assyriologie et d’archéologie orientale. They date to about 2000-1600 BC, roughly the time of Hammurabi (of the Code) and the biblical patriarchs, and they were written in two languages: Akkadian, the main written language of Mesopotamia, and a language closely related to Biblical Hebrew. These tablets were divided into two columns, with Akkadian on the right, translating phrases written in the other language on the left. This latter language is probably what the ancient Mesopotamians called “Amorite” and what makes these tablets particularly interesting is that these are the first texts in this language known to us.
Akkadian and Amorite are part of the Semitic family of languages, like Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic. While the prestige of Akkadian language and literature meant that it was the language of writing across cultural-linguistic boundaries in the second millennium BC, many other languages were, of course, spoken during this time. But the vast majority of them are not available to us, because they were not (often) written or they were written on perishable materials like leather. Other languages held a similar status to Akkadian within their own cultural horizons, like Egyptian or Hittite. Still others were used for very specific situations, like Sumerian, which was the traditional language of learning in Mesopotamia, but was no longer widely spoken. Occasionally other languages are mentioned in the ancient documents, including Amorite.
Still, bits of Amorite did crop up in isolated cases, especially in the names of people. Names in the ancient Near East normally had a fairly transparent meaning and thousands of names probably in Amorite have been handed down to us in tablets otherwise written in Akkadian. Occasionally, a bit of spoken Amorite was quoted in letters or Amorite terms were borrowed into Akkadian and showed up in Akkadian texts. But we have not had any Amorite texts, until now.
The tablets just published are in a format which we know from many other texts from Mesopotamia, that of lists of translated terms and phrases in different languages. These texts were normally organized with the source language in the left column and the target language on the right, so that the focus of inquiry, so to speak, was in the left column. Since these new tablets are organized with the Amorite in the left column, we may assume that it represents the scribe’s idea of good Amorite, including features like word-order and idioms, which were then rendered into Akkadian. Copies of texts like this were usually produced by pupils in school or by ancient scholars who were interested in the preservation and production of knowledge.
I said that the language in the left column of these tablets is Semitic, but it is more closely related to Biblical Hebrew than to Akkadian, the Semitic language spoken in the scribal circles which produced these tablets. Even if you only have the most basic knowledge of Hebrew, you can easily see the similarities with Amorite on these tablets.