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Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-15, 20:27
by dEhiN
Hi all, a few of us are thinking of starting a Sumerian study group. So far, it's Vijay, księżycowy and myself; if anyone else is interested in joining us, you're welcome to. We're going to be using An Introduction to the Grammar of Sumerian by Gábor Zólyomi. I suggest that we wait until Sunday, October 21 to begin to allow anyone else to join us. The first lesson is an introduction, which is fairly simple to go through. So we could perhaps go through the whole first lesson in one week, or over two weeks. After that, the plan is to go at a pace of one page per week.

Edit: To avoid confusion, I'm going to refer to the page numbers as they appear in the pdf, not as a program like Adobe Acrobat Reader would designate them.

Weekly Assignments (beginning October 21):
Due October 27: Lesson 1 (pp. 15-25) of An Introduction to the Grammar of Sumerian
Due November 10: Lesson 2 - Introductory Paragraph and Section 2.1 "The Consonants" (pp. 27 - 29) of An Introduction to the Grammar of Sumerian
Due November 17: First half of Section 2.2 "Vowels and vowel harmonies" (pp. 29 - 30) of An Introduction to the Grammar of Sumerian
Due November 24: Second half of Section 2.2 "Vowels and vowel harmonies", Section 2.3 "Syllable structure and stress" and section "Further readings" (pp. 31 - 34) of An Introduction to the Grammar of Sumerian

Due December 2: Lesson 2 Exercises (pp. 35 - 37) of An Introduction to the Grammar of Sumerian

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-15, 20:41
by Antea
I am in, I am in !! :yep:

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-15, 21:07
by dEhiN
Antea wrote:I am in, I am in !! :yep:

Welcome aboard.

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-15, 22:14
by vijayjohn
I'm in, too, but you already knew that. :P

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-15, 22:25
by dEhiN
vijayjohn wrote:I'm in, too, but you already knew that. :P

Yes I did; I mentioned you and księżycowy in the first post. So with you two and Antea plus me makes four.

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-15, 22:31
by księżycowy
I'm actually not sure if I'm going to go through with Sumerian or not. I'm trying to figure a way to add Irish and Polish into the mix without going overboard again.

Then again, I've been interested in Sumerian (and Akkadian, Egyptian, ect.) since I was a teen. Sooner or later I'll do it, so why not now. I just want to make sure I have the time for it.
Yes, even just a page a week.

TL;DR
I'd like to do this, but no promises.

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-16, 0:03
by dEhiN
księżycowy wrote:I'm actually not sure if I'm going to go through with Sumerian or not. I'm trying to figure a way to add Irish and Polish into the mix without going overboard again.

Then again, I've been interested in Sumerian (and Akkadian, Egyptian, ect.) since I was a teen. Sooner or later I'll do it, so why not now. I just want to make sure I have the time for it.
Yes, even just a page a week.

TL;DR
I'd like to do this, but no promises.

Well, see how it goes. We could always slow things down, even for the first lesson. As well, we could do a page every 2 weeks (if people are ok with it) once we hit the meat and potatoes of the grammar. Just from the little I've been through of the second lesson, parsing the glosses is difficult. I'm not sure how much experience you've had with isolinear glosses or ancient texts (particularly ones that are transliterated), but I know I'll very much be looking to Vijay for help analysing the texts.

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-16, 19:34
by Eril
Woah, I'd love to join. I once took an introductory seminar of Sumerian, but that was a few years ago.
Just, I really don't know whether I can find the time. I recently started as a doctorate student (in Germanic historical linguistics) and I'm already really busy. If this keeps to really slow progress, I would try to follow along, though.

How would this work? We agree to read a certain chapter/do certain exercises until a certain date, and then discuss any questions that came up here?

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-16, 19:44
by księżycowy
In a nutshell, yes.

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-16, 23:48
by vijayjohn
We do a page or two per week, or every two weeks (although we might do the first chapter in one week because it's introductory material).

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-17, 14:34
by dEhiN
Eril wrote:Woah, I'd love to join. I once took an introductory seminar of Sumerian, but that was a few years ago.
Just, I really don't know whether I can find the time. I recently started as a doctorate student (in Germanic historical linguistics) and I'm already really busy. If this keeps to really slow progress, I would try to follow along, though.

Germanic historical linguistics? I'm SO jealous!! When I was younger, I was very into historical linguistics. Even to this day, ancient and classical languages and cultures fascinate me due to their historicity.

Eril wrote:How would this work? We agree to read a certain chapter/do certain exercises until a certain date, and then discuss any questions that came up here?

Yeah, basically as Vijay and księżycowy said, we'd take it slowly. Heck, even a page a week is fine; seems like that'll work best for everyone. Join us, and see how things go.

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-17, 14:51
by księżycowy
dEhiN wrote:When I was younger, I was very into historical linguistics. Even to this day, ancient and classical languages and cultures fascinate me due to their historicity.

I'm very interested in classical and medieval languages because I'm very interested in the history of those time periods. So I'm very similar. :P

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-18, 5:56
by vijayjohn
Historical linguistics was part of my major, too. My MA was basically on Romani historical linguistics.

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-21, 17:53
by Eril
I guess that's to be expected that in this study group people might be interested in historical languages :D

In any case, I'm in! Read the introduction/1st lesson today.

Not sure whether I'm more relieved or disappointed that the book will use only transliterations and not teach cuneiform :mrgreen:

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-21, 19:48
by vijayjohn
Well, you sure didn't waste any time! I haven't even started yet. :P

They don't teach cuneiform at all??? Well, that's disappointing. :x Maybe I can try to find a supplementary resource that helps me learn that, too. Or eventually try to find one. :silly:

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-21, 20:03
by księżycowy
Hanes (I think that's his name) has a good introduction to reading Sumerian cuneiform.

I have a copy on my bookshelve, but it's also available on the webs.


EDIT: I was thinking of Hayes' A Manual of Sumerian Grammar and Texts.

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-22, 1:46
by dEhiN
So looks like some of y'all got started ahead of me! Since Eril finished Lesson 1, why don't we say Lesson 1 for this week. For me, I usually consider the week to be from Sunday to Saturday (and yes, I realize I'm posting at 21:43 EST Sunday, which would make it early Monday morning for some of you). If that's alright with the rest of you, why don't we say Lesson 1 by Oct. 27?

Also, I guess I forgot to mention IGS doesn't use cuneiform. It was a bit disappointing for me too. księżycowy, do you have a link for Hayes' book? Also, is it difficult to go through? If not, we could go through it together with IGS. Alternatively, we could go through it after IGS (assuming we all stick it out to the end! :D), or just let each person do it on their own if they so wish.

Edit: I updated the first thread with this week's assignment. I'll keep the first thread current as we go along.

Edit 2: I decided to use the page numbering system as used by Adobe Acrobat Reader, which counts the first page with the cover as page one. If you're going by the page numbers as used within the pdf, then subtract one from the system I'm using.

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-23, 6:37
by vijayjohn
I started Lesson 1 and then sort of distracted myself with Kurmanji. :P But before I got distracted by Kurmanji, I also sort of distracted myself by trying to find some sort of mood music or something. First I found this, which is a set of songs in Sumerian and Akkadian (the first one, for example, is definitely supposed to be in Akkadian, not Sumerian, and is called the Descent of Ishtar):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHRud455ht4
Then I stopped and started listening to this one, which is from the Epic of Gilgamesh and sung in Sumerian with subtitles in English (or at least the singer tries to sing it in Sumerian, apparently not so accurately, which is probably not such a surprise :P):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUcTsFe1PVs
You can find the (transcribed) lyrics in one of the comments:
Ud re-a ud su-ra re-a
ĝi re-a ĝi ba-ra re-a
mu re-a mu su-ra re-a
ud ul niĝ-du-e pa e-a-ba
ud ul niĝ-du-e mi zid dug-ga-a-ba
eš kalam-ma-ka ninda šu-a-ba
imšu-rin-na kalam-ma-ka niĝ-tab ak-a-ba
an ki-ta ba-da-ba-ra-a-ba
ki an-ta ba-da-sur-ra-a-ba
mu nam-lu-u-lu ba-an-ĝar-ra-a-ba

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-26, 12:33
by dEhiN
Thanks for those videos! I definitely liked the second one a lot; now I want to find, buy and learn to play the gishgudi. Do you know whereabouts in the first video is the Sumerian song?

Also, I don't know about anyone else, but I got confused between the various types of date references. For example, on page 17, the first paragraph says:
The status of the 2nd millennium BCE texts is also ambiguous, as the most important corpus from this period is that of the literary compositions used as educational tools or in cultic praxis during the Old Babylonian period (ca. 2014-1595 BCE).

If I understand the date references correctly, 2nd millennium BCE would mean 1000-1999 BCE, and therefore the Old Babylonian period stretches from part of the 2nd millennium BCE to part of the 3rd millennium BCE? If that's correct, then what about references to the first or second half of a millennium? For example, later on in page 17, you find:
Descriptive grammars of the Sumerian language, for this reason, are based mainly on the corpus from the second half of the 3rd millennium. The preceding periods include the archaic texts from Ur (ca. 2800 BCE) and the Fara period (ca. 2600 BCE).

Because we're dealing with BCE, does second half of the 3rd millennium mean 2500-2999 BCE or 2000-2499 BCE? The statement about the preceding periods implies to me that the texts from Ur and the Fara period are preceding the second half, meaning they're in the first half, meaning the first half is 2500-2999 BCE and the second half is 2000-2499 BCE.

Re: Sumerian Study Group

Posted: 2018-10-26, 12:50
by dEhiN
I have a few more questions. In section 1.2, the author writes:
If a logogram has more than one possible pronunciations

Does this mean that a logographic sign representing a single word could have more than one possible pronunciation - i.e., a single word could have multiple pronunciations - or that a logographic sign could represent multiple words, with each word having a single pronunciation?

I'm also confused about this:
In some of these composite signs only the meaning of the constituent logograms counts, however, in some cases the reading of the signs was used as a phonemic indicator disambiguating the reading of the new, yet logographic construct.

I understand the first part - for example, if there were signs for "big" and "chair" and combined, they meant "sofa", then the composite sign for sofa would be understood due to its constituent logograms. But I don't understand the second half of that sentence.

Lastly, could someone explain the meaning of "grammogram"? I've read and reread the parts on page 18 and 19 that refer to it, but I still don't quite get it.