Sumerian Study Group

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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby Antea » 2018-10-26, 19:37

I am reading the introduction. It’s a little bit technical :hmm: I hope to finish it, and also the first lesson, this weekend. Where are you exactly? Do you understand all the concepts?

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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby dEhiN » 2018-10-26, 21:51

Antea wrote:I am reading the introduction. It’s a little bit technical :hmm: I hope to finish it, and also the first lesson, this weekend. Where are you exactly? Do you understand all the concepts?

Yeah, the introduction (or first lesson) is quite technical. I don't understand all the concepts, hence my posted questions. Feel free to post your own questions or whatever you don't understand. I've started on grammars of other ancient languages (such as Hittite), and found them pretty technical from the beginning as well. I think these grammars assume that the reader is familiar with studying ancient languages.

I found section 1.1 not too challenging, except for some confusion over the references to dates. Section 1.2 was more difficult because of all the references to logograms and phonograms. I think I understand what section 1.2 is saying in general: Sumerian cuneiform signs used to only be logograms. These logograms either represented real-world objects or were abstract symbols denoting things like administrative conventions. Through both semantic association and phonemic association, the logograms were able to be extended for new meanings. Composite signs, made up of two or more logograms, were also created. These techniques allowed the set of signs in use to be limited to around 600. Eventually, things like the need for abstract grammatical morphemes led to some logograms becoming phonograms.

I found section 1.3 really easy - it's just talking about different Sumerian dialects. The same with section 1.4 - it's all about Sumerian and Akkadian and how Akkadian ends up replacing Sumerian as the everyday language as well as influencing Sumerian grammar. Section 1.5 is important (in my opinion) because it breaks down how to read all the Sumerian text examples. Lastly, section 1.6 is all about the various published works on Sumerian, including past grammars, as well as possible sources for word lists.
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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby Antea » 2018-10-26, 22:04

Ok, thanks fou your detailed answer. Yes, the references to the dates are also very “obscure” for me, and I also found a little confusing the section that explains the logograms, etc. Well, I think I will begin to read the first chapter.

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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby dEhiN » 2018-10-26, 22:07

You're welcome! And if you can't get through all of it, don't worry. As long as the others are good with it, we can always push back the goal for lesson 1 to the end of next week instead of this week (i.e., tomorrow, October 27).
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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-10-27, 4:20

dEhiN wrote:Thanks for those videos!

No problem!
Do you know whereabouts in the first video is the Sumerian song?

I looked around a bit and found out there are two: "Dumuzid's Dream" from 4:37 to 8:38 and "Lullaby" just after that to 14:13. Dumuzid is the ancient Mesopotamian god of shepherds, and the lullaby is apparently dedicated or addressed to one of the sons of the Sumerian king Shulgi.

A transliteration of the complete text for Dumuzid's Dream may be found here; clicking on any of the hyperlinked line numbers (1, 5, 15, 19, etc.) will give you (the corresponding verse in) this page with a translation. This recording starts at line 15 and I believe ends at line 49 before returning to lines 15-16.

A similar transliteration for the lullaby may be found here. In the song, Stef Conner sings the first 18 lines, for which a translation into English is available here with a video of her performing it live.
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?

I understand the 2nd millennium BCE to mean 2000-1001 BCE just like the 1st millennium BCE means 1000-1 BCE and the 1st millennium CE means 1-1000 CE since the year following 1 BCE is 1 CE.
Because we're dealing with BCE, does second half of the 3rd millennium mean 2500-2999 BCE or 2000-2499 BCE?

I understand it to mean 2500-2001 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.

I understand the first half to be 3000-2501 BCE because it came first (before 2500 BCE), and the second half to be 2500-2001 BCE.
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 think it means it could have more than one possible pronunciation. (This happens a lot in Chinese).
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.

I understand it to mean that a logogram could have both a semantic component and a phonetic component, i.e. it could combine one logogram that indicates the meaning of the new composite sign and another logogram that indicates the pronunciation of the new sign. It's like combining the signs for 'leaf' and 'walk' to mean 'leave', because the meaning of 'leave' is related to 'walk', but the pronunciation (in English) is similar to 'leaf'.

I have a feeling all this may make more sense if we look at some actual cuneiform in a certain source we have access to. :P
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.

You mean pages 17 and 18? I don't see it on page 19, which is where section 1.3 begins.

I understand it to just mean a written character that has a grammatical function rather than a lexical one. For example, in the phrase I still don't quite get it, don't has no other purpose than to indicate negation and means nothing by itself. If you were writing a dictionary of the English language, you might include every other word in this phrase in it - I, still, quite, get, and it - but you're less likely to include don't. EDIT: So don't would be a grammogram.
Antea wrote:I am reading the introduction. It’s a little bit technical :hmm:

I think the whole book is!
Where are you exactly? Do you understand all the concepts?

I read it. I think I understand it.
dEhiN wrote:As long as the others are good with it, we can always push back the goal for lesson 1 to the end of next week instead of this week (i.e., tomorrow, October 27).

If you like.

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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby dEhiN » 2018-10-28, 5:53

Thanks for all that Vijay! Regarding the dates, I forgot that with BCE you write the higher number first because it came first (e.g., 2500-2001 BCE). And what you said about the references to the first and second half of a millennium makes sense.

Regarding the grammogram stuff, you're right, it's on pages 17 and 18. I was using the page number references as Adobe Acrobat designates them, but it counts the cover page as page 1. So this means all the page numbers found in the pdf are considered by Acrobat to be one higher. For the sake of avoiding confusion, I'm going to just use the page numbers found in the pdf.

Lastly, I'm ok with moving forward for this week; I reread Lesson 1. It also seems like you and Eril both read through Lesson 1. So if Antea was able to finish Lesson 1, then we'll move on. Otherwise, I'm ok with giving her an extra week. I just took a look through Lesson 2, and I think our plan of doing one page per week might not work so well. The problem is that some pages end in the middle of a section, or possibly even a sentence! So what if we start to go section by section? We could do the short introductory paragraph of Lesson 2 plus section 2.1 by November 3, if Antea was able to finish Lesson 1. If not, then we'll just push back the date for Lesson 1 to November 3.
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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby księżycowy » 2018-10-28, 9:37

Sounds like a plan to me. I'll get reading this week. (I may even get caught up on lesson 1)

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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-10-28, 17:39

dEhiN wrote:Thanks for all that Vijay!

You're welcome! :) I'm fine with the schedule you've proposed as well.

I was trying to find the Sumerian songs I posted in cuneiform, but apparently, that's not so easy. :P

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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby dEhiN » 2018-10-28, 21:20

vijayjohn wrote:I was trying to find the Sumerian songs I posted in cuneiform, but apparently, that's not so easy. :P

I haven't looked at any of the resources listed at the end of Lesson 1 for word lists and cuneiform texts. If I recall correctly though, some of the resources have texts in cuneiform, though perhaps not the songs you posted. By the way, I'm not sure if you listened to the songs fully while following along with the transliterations, but I did for about 80% of the songs. While I admire Stef Conner's attempts to sing in Sumerian, I feel like she isn't always consistent in how she pronounces phonemes and syllables, at least based on the transliteration. I didn't do a careful comparison to be sure, but I got that impression.

księżycowy wrote:Sounds like a plan to me. I'll get reading this week. (I may even get caught up on lesson 1)

Ok, so then I'll push back the due date for Lesson 1 to November 3. Eril, if you're still following along, and VIjay, I guess you two (and I) get a break this week.
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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby księżycowy » 2018-10-28, 21:58

You don't have to push the due date back on my account.

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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-10-28, 23:14

YEH then let's do (up to) the next section by next week! :mrgreen:
dEhiN wrote:By the way, I'm not sure if you listened to the songs fully while following along with the transliterations, but I did for about 80% of the songs.

Yeah, I did, but probably didn't pay all that much attention.
While I admire Stef Conner's attempts to sing in Sumerian, I feel like she isn't always consistent in how she pronounces phonemes and syllables, at least based on the transliteration. I didn't do a careful comparison to be sure, but I got that impression.

That's pretty funny. :lol:

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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby dEhiN » 2018-10-29, 19:15

vijayjohn wrote:YEH then let's do (up to) the next section by next week! :mrgreen:

Ok, done; I'm going to update the first post now.
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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-11-01, 1:49

Just finished reading this week's assignment

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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby księżycowy » 2018-11-01, 9:13

I have until Saturday, right?

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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby dEhiN » 2018-11-01, 12:28

księżycowy wrote:I have until Saturday, right?

Yes
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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby dEhiN » 2018-11-01, 12:30

vijayjohn wrote:Just finished reading this week's assignment

What'd you think of it? The first time I went through lesson 2, I found the consonants section not too hard, but I found the vowels challenging.
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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-11-01, 12:32

dEhiN wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:Just finished reading this week's assignment

What'd you think of it? The first time I went through lesson 2, I found the consonants section not too hard, but I found the vowels challenging.

Wait, you've already read lesson 2 before??

Um...it didn't seem too hard since I've only read the consonants section so far. :P

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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby dEhiN » 2018-11-01, 12:41

vijayjohn wrote:Wait, you've already read lesson 2 before??

Not all of it; I did up to and including the vowels before this group.

Um...it didn't seem too hard since I've only read the consonants section so far. :P

Haha, yeah same here. The vowels aren't too hard either. I had trouble understanding the examples they use in the vowels section to illustrate various vocalic changes.
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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby dEhiN » 2018-11-02, 20:53

I finished the reading yesterday evening. I think more of it sunk in this time around than the first time, so yay! I was surprised though that the voiceless aspirated affricate /tsʰ/ is transliterated as <d> or <r> as well as this:
The voiceless aspirated affricate ([tsʰ]) appears in the earlier literature as the /dr/-phoneme.

How do you get /d/ or /r/ (either phonemically or even just in transliteration) from /tsʰ/?
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Re: Sumerian Study Group

Postby Antea » 2018-11-02, 22:01

I think I will have finished by tomorrow. This week had been a madness, I had a lot of work, and now I am just exhausted :? . So tonight I will take it easy, just some reading, but not too complicated :whistle:


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