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KA - mouth

Jun. 29th, 2006 | 04:39 pm
posted by: shar_gaz in sumerianwotd

Today's Sumerian word of the day is the sign KA, which has a number of different readings. The sign looks like this:



You can see that this is the SAG ("head") sign, with a few extra strokes. These are called "gunu" marks, which highlight an area of the sign. Because the SAG sign was originally a drawing of a head (turn the sign 90 degrees clockwise and you can sort of see it), these gunu marks are over the region of the mouth - and that's the basic meaning of ka, "mouth".

By extension, this sign can also represent a number of other Sumerian words. It can be read "dug4", which means "to speak", and it makes sense that a picture of a mouth would be used to represent speaking. It can also be read "gu3", which means "a loud noise, voice, a cry", "inim", which means "word", or even "zu2", which means "tooth". As well, the gunu marks can be seen as over the nose, so the sign can mean "kiri3", "nose". And finally, the idiom for becoming angry in Sumerian and Akkadian was the nose getting hot (which is pretty awesome), so this sign can be read "sumur", "to become angry." Phew!

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UD - day

Jun. 13th, 2006 | 07:03 pm
posted by: shar_gaz in sumerianwotd

Today's Sumerian word of the day is ud (pronounced "ood"), a sign with a couple of different meanings. It looks like this:



This is the sign that, when preceded by the divine determinative, stands for the god Utu, who is the sun god (also the god of justice, divination, etc). It also means the sun itself, and by extension "day", "time", and the preposition "when". The sign can also be read "babbar", which means "white" (you can see how that's connected to its meaning of "sun"), and as babbar is part of the very common compound word kug-babbar, which means "silver". It's also a sign that appears in a lot of place names and other compound words.

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BAD3 - wall

Jun. 8th, 2006 | 06:00 pm
posted by: shar_gaz in sumerianwotd

I bet you forgot you had this friended. The Sumerian Word of the Day is back for the summer, and probably will be updated a couple of times a week at least.

Today's word is "bad3", which means "city wall" or "fortification". You can vaguely see how it was originally a picture of a wall around a central area.



(Images are all now taken from the online Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary, which is a great resource I encourage you to use. Another resource, if you're interested in Sumerian literature, is The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.)

(As well, old entries of this community are now in the memories.)

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KI-AG2 - to love

Apr. 26th, 2004 | 08:45 pm
posted by: shar_gaz in sumerianwotd

This week's Sumerian word is made of two cuneiform signs, "ki" and "ag2". "ki-ag2" means "to love", and looks like this:



As you can see, we've had the sign "ki" as a previous word. "ag2" is a new sign. The phoneme at the end of the sign, which in the past was written "g", is actually an "ng" sound - this phoneme is a recent discovery. (All 'g's are not 'ng's in Sumerian, though - only some of them. In older literature they're not differentiated, but they are in newer literature.) The compound as a whole would be pronounced "key ong" ('a's are always pronounced long, so the second word would rhyme with "song" rather than with "sang".)

In Sumerian (according to P. Steinkeller), love has a very specific social context. A superior loves an inferior, but inferiors cannot love their superiors. A god can love a human, but a human cannot love a god - humans fear or respect gods. Rather than exactly indicating warm, fuzzy feelings, "love" indicates something like preferment or benevolence.

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I3 - oil

Apr. 18th, 2004 | 08:38 pm
posted by: shar_gaz in sumerianwotd

Due to serious time constraints, I'm not going to be able to keep up the pace of a Sumerian word every single day. It's just too much. But instead of stopping altogether, I'm changing the format to make it the Sumerian Word of the Week, rather than of the day. The word for each week will be posted on Sunday nights from here on out.

This week's word is "i3", which means "oil" or "butter". The sign also has the reading "zal", which is a verb meaning "to flow, to melt" or "to pass (time)". As well, the sign has several additional phonetic readings - "li2", "ne2" and "ni".

I3 looks like this, and is pronounced like the name of the English letter "e".

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URU - city

Apr. 14th, 2004 | 12:28 am
posted by: shar_gaz in sumerianwotd

Today's Sumerian word is "uru", which means "city" or "town".

"uru" is the traditional reading of the sign, but more recently Sumerologists have begun writing it "iri", as a more accurate transcription of how it would have sounded. ("uru" is pronounced "oo-roo" and "iri" like the English word "eerie".) My professor is of the opinion that in fact the vowels there were a sort of rounded 'i', a sound between 'i' and 'u', similar to a German umlaut sound.

And I am not describing that very well, but it's late and I'm tired.

Uru looks like this:

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UDU - sheep

Apr. 12th, 2004 | 10:18 pm
posted by: shar_gaz in sumerianwotd

Today's Sumerian word is "udu" (pronounced "oo-doo"), which means "sheep".

It looks like this:

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NIN - lady

Apr. 11th, 2004 | 11:26 pm
posted by: shar_gaz in sumerianwotd

Today's Sumerian word is "nin", which means "lady, mistress, queen". You can see how one of the parts of the sign is the sign "munus", which means "woman".

This sign is often part of divine names. However, oddly, sometimes it is part of the name of male gods, such as Ningirsu or Ningišzida. (In these names, we translate it "lord".) This has led to speculation that these gods were in fact originally goddesses.

Nin is pronounced like the first syllable of the English word "ninny", and it looks like this:

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IGI - eye

Apr. 8th, 2004 | 11:17 pm
posted by: shar_gaz in sumerianwotd

Today's word of the day is "igi", which means "eye". It can also have the extended meanings of "sight, vision" or "face, front".

Igi is pronounced so that it rhymes with "Ziggy", and it looks like this:

Tags:

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KI - place

Apr. 7th, 2004 | 11:38 pm
posted by: shar_gaz in sumerianwotd

Today's word is "ki", which means "place." It can also mean, "ground" or "earth", and is a term for the netherworld. Ki is also used as a determinative indicating something is the name of a place, but instead of being put before the place name (as is usual for determinatives), it's put after the place name (Lagash-KI, for example, to talk about the city of Lagash).

"Ki" is pronounced like the English word "key", and looks like this:

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