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KI-AG2 - to love

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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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Comments {23}


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from: shar_gaz
date: Apr. 26th, 2004 10:23 pm (UTC)

His argument is, of course, debatable. But if you're working from translations, you don't see all the options, and as Sumerian grammar isn't completely understood, often things could go multiple ways. Some translators may treat participles as active (a person loving their god) when they would be better translated passively (that the person is the beloved of their god).

Are you a Sumerologist?

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Unrepentant Artfag

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from: 00goddess
date: Apr. 26th, 2004 10:31 pm (UTC)

Are you a Sumerologist?

In training :) I've long studied Sumerian culture and religion on my own, and I'm now pursuing my degeee in anthropology. I may eventually narrow my focus to Sumerology, unless something else explosively interesting comes up. Sumer is my love, but it's a field that has been greatly explored already, so I might end up pursuing something else in the interest of making new discoveries.

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