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Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages''. Ed. Roger D. Woodard (2004, Cambridge) Pages 218-280 is an
extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds (taxon), usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the endling, last individual of the species, although the Functional extin ...
East Semitic language that was spoken in ancient
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
( Akkad,
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a n kingdom and of the that existed as a state from perhaps as early as the 25th century BCE (in the form of the city-state) until its collapse between 612 BCE and 609 BCE; thereby spanning ...

Assyria
,
Isin Isin (, modern Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P ...
,
Larsa Larsa ( Sumerian logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it must be taught to children, who will pick u ...
and
Babylonia Babylonia () was an and based in central-southern which was part of Ancient Persia (present-day and ). A small -ruled state emerged in 1894 BCE, which contained the minor administrative town of . It was merely a small provincial town dur ...
) from the
third millennium BC Third or 3rd may refer to: Numbers * 3rd, the ordinal form of the cardinal number 3 *fraction (mathematics) A fraction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European ...
until its gradual replacement by Akkadian-influenced
Old Aramaic Old Aramaic refers to the earliest stage of the Aramaic language Aramaic ( Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic: ; Aramaic alphabet, Imperial Aramaic: ; Hebrew alphabet, square script ) is a language that originated among the Aram ...
among Mesopotamians by the 8th century BC. It is the earliest attested
Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region in Afro-Eurasia which generally includes Western Asia ...

Semitic language
. It used the
cuneiform script Cuneiform is a - that was used to write several languages of the . The script was in active use from the early until the beginning of the . It is named for the characteristic wedge-shaped impressions (: ) which form its . Cuneiform was origi ...

cuneiform script
, which was originally used to write the unrelated, and also extinct,
Sumerian
Sumerian
(which is a
language isolate A language isolate is a language that is unrelated to any others. In the absolute sense, it is a natural language with no demonstrable genealogical (or "genetic") relationship—one that has not been demonstrated to descend from an ancestor comm ...
). Akkadian is named after the city of Akkad, a major centre of Mesopotamian civilization during the
Akkadian Empire The Akkadian Empire () was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia after the long-lived civilization of Sumer. It was centered in the city of Akkad (city), Akkad and its surrounding region. The empire united Akkadian language, Akkadian (Assyri ...
(c. 2334–2154 BC). The mutual influence between Sumerian and Akkadian had led scholars to describe the languages as a ''
Sprachbund A sprachbund (, lit. "language federation"), also known as a linguistic area, area of linguistic convergence, diffusion area or language crossroads, is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, inc ...
''. Akkadian proper names were first attested in Sumerian texts from around the mid 3rd-millennium BC. From about the 25th or 24th century BC, texts fully written in Akkadian begin to appear. By the 10th century BC, two variant forms of the language were in use in Assyria and Babylonia, known as Assyrian and Babylonian respectively. The bulk of preserved material is from this later period, corresponding to the Near Eastern
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history between the use of the first stone tools by hominins 3.3 million years ago and the ...
. In total, hundreds of thousands of texts and text fragments have been excavated, covering a vast textual tradition of mythological narrative, legal texts, scientific works, correspondence, political and military events, and many other examples. Akkadian (in its Assyrian and Babylonian varieties) was the native language of the Mesopotamian empires (
Akkadian Empire The Akkadian Empire () was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia after the long-lived civilization of Sumer. It was centered in the city of Akkad (city), Akkad and its surrounding region. The empire united Akkadian language, Akkadian (Assyri ...
,
Old Assyrian Empire The Old Assyrian Empire was the second stage of Assyrian history, covering the history of the city of Assur Aššur (; Sumerian language, Sumerian: AN.ŠAR2KI, Assyrian cuneiform: ''Aš-šurKI'', "City of God Ashur (god), Aššur"; syr, ܐܫ ...
,
Babylonia Babylonia () was an and based in central-southern which was part of Ancient Persia (present-day and ). A small -ruled state emerged in 1894 BCE, which contained the minor administrative town of . It was merely a small provincial town dur ...
,
Middle Assyrian Empire The Middle Assyrian Empire is the period in the history of Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a n kingdom and of the that existed as a state from perhaps as early as the 25th century BCE (in the form of the city-s ...
) throughout the later Bronze Age, and became the
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a ...
of much of the Ancient
Near East The Near East ( ar, الشرق الأدنى, al-Sharq al-'Adnā, he, המזרח הקרוב, arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ, fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik, tr, Yakın Doğu) is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental r ...
by the time of the
Bronze Age collapse The Late Bronze Age collapse was a transition period in a large area covering much of Southeast Europe, West Asia and North Africa North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly ac ...
c 1150 BC. Its decline began in the Iron Age, during the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disam ...

Neo-Assyrian Empire
, by about the 8th century BC (
Tiglath-Pileser III Tiglath-Pileser III (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo up Chiswick_Press.html"_;"title="Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press">Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press_ A_logo_(abbreviation_of_logotype,_from__el.html" ;"title="Chiswick_ ...
), in favour of
Old Aramaic Old Aramaic refers to the earliest stage of the Aramaic language Aramaic ( Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic: ; Aramaic alphabet, Imperial Aramaic: ; Hebrew alphabet, square script ) is a language that originated among the Aram ...
. By the
Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium in 31 BC and the conquest of Ptolemaic ...
, the language was largely confined to scholars and priests working in temples in Assyria and Babylonia. The last known Akkadian cuneiform document dates from the 1st century AD. Mandaic and Assyrian are two (Northwest Semitic)
Neo-Aramaic languages The Neo-Aramaic or Modern Aramaic languages are varieties of Aramaic Aramaic ( Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic: ; Imperial Aramaic: ; square script ) is a language that originated among the Arameans The Arameans (Old Aram ...
that retain some Akkadian vocabulary and grammatical features. Akkadian is a
fusional language Fusional languages or inflected languages are a type of synthetic language A synthetic language uses inflection In linguistic morphology, inflection (or inflexion) is a process of word formation, in which a word is modified to express dif ...
with
grammatical case Grammatical case is a term regarding a manner of categorizing s, s, s, s, and s according to their traditionally corresponding s within a given , , or . In some languages, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, s, participles, prepositions, numerals, art ...
; and like all Semitic languages, Akkadian uses the system of consonantal roots. The Kültepe texts, which were written in Old Assyrian, include
Hittite Hittite may refer to: * Hittites, ancient Anatolian people ** Hittite language, the earliest-attested Indo-European language ** Hittite grammar ** Hittite phonology ** Hittite cuneiform ** Hittite inscriptions ** Hittite laws ** Hittite religion ** ...
loanwords and names, which constitute the oldest record of any
Indo-European language The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent and the Iranian Plateau. A few of these languages, su ...
.


Classification

: '' DNa-ra-am D Sîn'', ''Sîn'' being written 𒂗𒍪 EN.ZU), appears vertically in the right column. British Museum. Akkadian belongs with the other
Semitic languages The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family A language is a structured system of communication us ...

Semitic languages
in the
Near East The Near East ( ar, الشرق الأدنى, al-Sharq al-'Adnā, he, המזרח הקרוב, arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ, fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik, tr, Yakın Doğu) is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental r ...
ern branch of the
Afroasiatic languages Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed lang ...

Afroasiatic languages
, a family native to the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
,
Arabian Peninsula The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...
, the
Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland fr ...

Horn of Africa
, parts of
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
,
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
,
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern Europe Southern Europe is the southern subregion of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of ...

Malta
,
Canary Islands The Canary Islands (; es, Canarias, ), also known informally as the Canaries, are a Spanish archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a ...
and parts of
West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as well as .Paul R. Masson, Catherine Anne Pattillo, "Monetary union in West Africa (ECOWAS): is i ...

West Africa
(
Hausa Hausa may refer to: * Hausa people, an ethnic group of West Africa * Hausa language, spoken in West Africa * Hausa Kingdoms, a historical collection of Hausa city-states * Hausa (horse) or Dongola horse, an African breed of riding horse See also

). Akkadian and its successor Aramaic, however, are only ever attested in Mesopotamia and the Near East. Within the Near Eastern Semitic languages, Akkadian forms an
East Semitic The East Semitic languages are one of three divisions Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics) Division is one of the four basic operations of arithmetic, the ways that numbers are combined to make new numbers. ...
subgroup (with
Eblaite Eblaite (, also known as Eblan ISO 639-3 ISO 639-3:2007, ''Codes for the representation of names of languages – Part 3: Alpha-3 code for comprehensive coverage of languages'', is an international standard for language codes in the ISO 63 ...
). This group distinguishes itself from the Northwest and South Semitic languages by its
subject–object–verb In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for ...
word order, while the other Semitic languages usually have either a
verb–subject–object In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for s ...
or
subject–verb–object In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for ...
order. Additionally Akkadian is the only Semitic language to use the
preposition Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in English, simply prepositions), are a used to express spatial or temporal relations (''in'', ''under'', ''towards'', ''before'') or mark various (''of'', ''for''). A pre ...
s ''ina'' and ''ana'' (
locative case In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as w ...
, English ''in''/''on''/''with'', and
dative In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as we ...
-locative case, ''for''/''to'', respectively). Other Semitic languages like
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
,
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
and
Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent languages of the . During its three thousand years long history, Aramaic went thr ...
have the prepositions ''bi/bə'' and ''li/lə'' (locative and dative, respectively). The origin of the Akkadian spatial prepositions is unknown. In contrast to most other Semitic languages, Akkadian has only one non-sibilant
fricative Fricatives are consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pron ...
: ḫ . Akkadian lost both the glottal and pharyngeal fricatives, which are characteristic of the other Semitic languages. Until the Old Babylonian period, the Akkadian
sibilant In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical pr ...
s were exclusively affricated.


History and writing


Writing

Old Akkadian is preserved on clay tablets dating back to c. 2500 BC. It was written using
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is name ...

cuneiform
, a script adopted from the Sumerians using wedge-shaped symbols pressed in wet clay. As employed by Akkadian scribes, the adapted cuneiform script could represent either (a)
logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lang ...
s (''i.e.'', picture-based characters representing entire words), (b) Sumerian syllables, (c) Akkadian syllables, or (d)
phonetic complement A phonetic complement is a phonetic symbol used to disambiguate word characters (logograms) that have multiple readings, in mixed logographic-phonetic scripts such as Egyptian hieroglyphs, cuneiform script, Akkadian cuneiform, Japanese writing sy ...
s. However, in Akkadian the script practically became a fully fledged
syllabic script In the linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
, and the original
logographic In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lan ...
nature of cuneiform became secondary, though logograms for frequent words such as 'god' and 'temple' continued to be used. For this reason, the sign ''AN'' can on the one hand be a logogram for the word ''ilum'' ('god') and on the other signify the god
Anu , image=File:Cuneiform sumer dingir.svg , caption=Ur III Sumerian cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active u ...

Anu
or even the syllable ''-an-''. Additionally, this sign was used as a
determinative A determinative, also known as a taxogram or semagram, is an ideogram upright=1, Ideograms in the Church of the Visitation, Jerusalem. Five of the symbols are pictograms augmented with red bars representing the idea of "no" or "not allowed". T ...
for divine names. Another peculiarity of Akkadian cuneiform is that many signs do not have a well-defined phonetic value. Certain signs, such as ', do not distinguish between the different
vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables * ...

vowel
qualities. Nor is there any coordination in the other direction; the syllable ', for example, is rendered by the sign ', but also by the sign '. Both of these are often used for the same syllable in the same text. Cuneiform was in many ways unsuited to Akkadian: among its flaws was its inability to represent important
phonemes In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound or sign system of any partic ...

phonemes
in Semitic, including a ,
pharyngeals A pharyngeal consonant is a consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of th ...
, and
emphatic consonant In Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religions * Abrahamic ...
s. In addition, cuneiform was a
syllabary In the linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
writing system—i.e., a consonant plus vowel comprised one writing unit—frequently inappropriate for a Semitic language made up of
triconsonantal root The root (linguistics), roots of verbs and most nouns in the Semitic languages are characterized as a sequence of consonants or "wikt:radical, radicals" (hence the term consonantal root). Such abstract consonantal roots are used in the formation of ...
s (i.e., three consonants plus any vowels).


Development

Akkadian is divided into several
varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in universal algebra Hort ...
based on
geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10. ...

geography
and
historical period is commonly divided into three main s – , , and . Ancient history (6,000 BCE – 650 CE) Ancient history refers to the time period since the introduction of writing systems c. 3000 in the turn of prehistory to recorded history. It ends with ...
: *Old Akkadian, 2500–1950 BC *Old Babylonian and Old Assyrian, 1950–1530 BC *Middle Babylonian and Middle Assyrian, 1530–1000 BC *Neo-Babylonian and Neo-Assyrian, 1000–600 BC *Late Babylonian, 600 BC–100 AD One of the earliest known Akkadian inscriptions was found on a bowl at , addressed to the very early pre-Sargonic king Meskiagnunna of Ur (c. 2485–2450 BC) by his queen Gan-saman, who is thought to have been from Akkad. The
Akkadian Empire The Akkadian Empire () was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia after the long-lived civilization of Sumer. It was centered in the city of Akkad (city), Akkad and its surrounding region. The empire united Akkadian language, Akkadian (Assyri ...
, established by
Sargon of Akkad Sargon of Akkad (; akk, 𒊬𒊒𒄀 ''Šar-ru-gi''), also known as Sargon the Great, was the first ruler of the Akkadian Empire The Akkadian Empire () was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia after the long-lived civilization of Sumer. ...

Sargon of Akkad
, introduced the Akkadian language (the "language of Akkad") as a written language, adapting cuneiform orthography for the purpose. During the
Middle Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age syst ...
(Old Assyrian and Old Babylonian period), the language virtually displaced Sumerian, which is assumed to have been extinct as a living language by the 18th century BC. Old Akkadian, which was used until the end of the 3rd millennium BC, differed from both Babylonian and Assyrian, and was displaced by these dialects. By the 21st century BC Babylonian and Assyrian, which were to become the primary dialects, were easily distinguishable. Old Babylonian, along with the closely related dialect Mariotic, is clearly more innovative than the Old Assyrian dialect and the more distantly related
Eblaite language Eblaite (, also known as Eblan ISO 639-3), or Palaeo-Syrian, is an extinct East Semitic language used during the 3rd millennium BCE by the populations of Northern Syria. It was named after the ancient city of Ebla, in modern western Syria. Varia ...
. For this reason, forms like ''lu-prus'' ('I will decide') were first encountered in Old Babylonian instead of the older ''la-prus''. While generally more archaic, Assyrian developed certain innovations as well, such as the "Assyrian
vowel harmony In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound system of any particular language variety. At one ...
". Eblaite was even more so, retaining a productive
dual Dual or Duals may refer to: Paired/two things * Dual (mathematics), a notion of paired concepts that mirror one another ** Dual (category theory), a formalization of mathematical duality ** . . . see more cases in :Duality theories * Dual ...
and a
relative pronounA relative pronoun is a pronoun In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a word or a group of words that one may substitute for a noun or noun phrase. Pronouns have traditionally been regarded as one ...
declined in case, number and gender. Both of these had already disappeared in Old Akkadian. Over 20,000 cuneiform tablets in Old Akkadian have been recovered from the
Kültepe Kültepe ( Turkish: "Ash Hill" and fa, کل تپه ''koltape''), also known as Kanesh or Nesha, is an archaeological site An archaeological site is a place (or group of physical sites) in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either p ...
site in
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
. Most of the archaeological evidence is typical of Anatolia rather than of Assyria, but the use both of
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is name ...

cuneiform
and the dialect is the best indication of Assyrian presence. Old Babylonian was the language of king
Hammurabi Hammurabi () was the sixth king of the First Babylonian dynasty The First Babylonian Empire, or Old Babylonian Empire, is dated to BC – BC, and comes after the end of Sumerian power with the destruction of the Third Dynasty of Ur The ...

Hammurabi
and his
code In communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', mean ...

code
, which is one of the oldest collections of laws in the world. (see
Code of Ur-Nammu The Code of Ur-Nammu is the oldest known law code A code of law, also called a law code or legal code, is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time t ...
.) The Middle Babylonian (or Assyrian) period started in the 16th century BC. The division is marked by the
Kassite The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratificatio ...
invasion of Babylonia around 1550 BC. The Kassites, who reigned for 300 years, gave up their own language in favor of Akkadian, but they had little influence on the language. At its apogee, Middle Babylonian was the written language of diplomacy of the entire
Ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbol A symbol is a mark ...
, including Egypt. During this period, a large number of loan words were included in the language from
Northwest Semitic languages Northwest Semitic is a division of the Semitic languages The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family ...
and
Hurrian The Hurrians (; Cuneiform script, cuneiform: ; transliteration: ''Ḫu-ur-ri''; also called Hari, Khurrites, Hourri, Churri, Hurri or Hurriter) were a people of the Bronze Age Ancient Near East, Near East. They spoke a Hurro-Urartian language cal ...
; however, the use of these words was confined to the fringes of the Akkadian-speaking territory. Middle Assyrian served as a ''
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a ...
'' in much of the
Ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbol A symbol is a mark ...
of the
Late Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age syst ...
(
Amarna Period The Amarna Period was an era of History of Ancient Egypt, Egyptian history during the later half of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, Eighteenth Dynasty when the royal residence of the pharaoh and his queen was shifted to Akhetaten ('Horizon of the A ...
). During the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disam ...

Neo-Assyrian Empire
, Neo-Assyrian began to turn into a chancellery language, being marginalized by Old Aramaic. Under the Achaemenids, Aramaic continued to prosper, but Assyrian continued its decline. The language's final demise came about during the
Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium in 31 BC and the conquest of Ptolemaic ...
when it was further marginalized by Koine Greek, even though Neo-Assyrian cuneiform remained in use in literary tradition well into Parthian Empire, Parthian times. The latest known text in cuneiform Babylonian is an astronomical almanac dated to 79/80 AD. However, the latest cuneiform texts are almost entirely written in Sumerian logograms. Old Assyrian developed as well during the second millennium BC, but because it was a purely popular language — kings wrote in Babylonian — few long texts are preserved. From 1500 BC onwards, the language is termed Middle Assyrian. During the first millennium BC, Akkadian progressively lost its status as a ''lingua franca''. In the beginning, from around 1000 BC, Akkadian and Aramaic were of equal status, as can be seen in the number of copied texts: clay tablets were written in Akkadian, while scribes writing on papyrus and leather used Aramaic. From this period on, one speaks of Neo-Babylonian and Neo-Assyrian. Neo-Assyrian received an upswing in popularity in the 10th century BC when the Assyrian kingdom became a major power with the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disam ...

Neo-Assyrian Empire
, but texts written 'exclusively' in Neo-Assyrian disappear within 10 years of Nineveh's destruction in 612 BC. The dominance of the Neo-Assyrian Empire under
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over Aram-Damascus in the middle of the 8th century led to the establishment of Aramaic as a ''lingua franca'' of the empire, rather than it being eclipsed by Akkadian. After the end of the Mesopotamian kingdoms, which were conquered by the Achaemenid Empire, Persians, Akkadian (which existed solely in the form of Late Babylonian) disappeared as a popular language. However, the language was still used in its written form; and even after the Greek invasion under Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, Akkadian was still a contender as a written language, but spoken Akkadian was likely extinct by this time, or at least rarely used. The last positively identified Akkadian text comes from the 1st century AD.


Decipherment

The Akkadian language began to be rediscovered when Carsten Niebuhr in 1767 was able to make extensive copies of cuneiform texts and published them in Denmark. The deciphering of the texts started immediately, and bilinguals, in particular Old Persian language, Old Persian-Akkadian bilinguals, were of great help. Since the texts contained several royal names, isolated signs could be identified, and were presented in 1802 by Georg Friedrich Grotefend. By this time it was already evident that Akkadian was a Semitic language, and the final breakthrough in deciphering the language came from Edward Hincks, Sir Henry Rawlinson, 1st Baronet, Henry Rawlinson and Jules Oppert in the middle of the 19th century.


Dialects

The following table summarises the dialects of Akkadian identified with certainty so far. Some researchers (such as W. Sommerfeld 2003) believe that the Old Akkadian variant used in the older texts is not an ancestor of the later Assyrian and Babylonian dialects, but rather a separate dialect that was replaced by these two dialects and which died out early.
Eblaite Eblaite (, also known as Eblan ISO 639-3 ISO 639-3:2007, ''Codes for the representation of names of languages – Part 3: Alpha-3 code for comprehensive coverage of languages'', is an international standard for language codes in the ISO 63 ...
, formerly thought of as yet another Akkadian dialect, is now generally considered a separate East Semitic language.


Phonetics and phonology

Because Akkadian as a spoken language is extinct and no contemporary descriptions of the pronunciation are known, little can be said with certainty about the phonetics and phonology of Akkadian. Some conclusions can be made, however, due to the relationship to the other Semitic languages and variant spellings of Akkadian words.


Consonants

The following table gives the consonant sounds distinguished in the Akkadian use of cuneiform, with the presumed pronunciation in International Phonetic Alphabet, IPA transcription according to Huehnergard and Woods, which most closely corresponds to recent reconstructions of Proto-Semitic language, Proto-Semitic phonology. The parenthesised symbol following is the transcription used in the literature, in the cases where that symbol is different from the phonetic symbol. This transcription has been suggested for all Semitic languages by the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft (DMG), and is therefore known as ''DMG-Umschrift''.


Reconstruction

Akkadian emphatic consonants are typically reconstructed as Ejective consonant, ejectives, which are thought to be the oldest realization of emphatics across the Semitic languages. One piece of evidence for this is that Akkadian shows a development known as Geers' law, where one of two emphatic consonants dissimilates to the corresponding non-emphatic consonant. For the sibilants, traditionally /š/ has been held to be postalveolar , and /s/, /z/, // analyzed as fricatives; but attested assimilation (linguistics), assimilations in Akkadian suggest otherwise. For example, when the possessive suffix ''-šu'' is added to the root ''awat'' ('word'), it is written ''awassu'' ('his word') even though ''šš'' would be expected. The most straightforward interpretation of this shift from ''tš'' to ''ss'' is that /s, ṣ/ form a pair of voiceless alveolar affricates , *š is a voiceless alveolar fricative , and *z is a voiced alveolar affricate or fricative . The assimilation is then [awat+su] > . In this vein, an alternative transcription of *š is *s̠, with the macron below indicating a soft (lenis) articulation in Semitic transcription. Other interpretations are possible, however. could have been assimilated to the preceding , yielding , which would later have been simplified to . The phoneme /r/ has traditionally been interpreted as a trill but its pattern of alternation with // suggests it was a velar (or uvular) fricative. In the Hellenistic period, Akkadian /r/ was transcribed using the Greek ρ, indicating it was pronounced similarly as an Dental, alveolar and postalveolar trills, alveolar trill (though Greeks may also have perceived a uvular trill as ρ).


Descent from Proto-Semitic

Several Proto-Semitic phonemes are lost in Akkadian. The Proto-Semitic glottal stop , as well as the fricatives , , are lost as consonants, either by sound change or orthographically, but they gave rise to the vowel quality ''e'' not exhibited in Proto-Semitic. The voiceless lateral fricatives () merged with the sibilants as in Canaanite languages, Canaanite, leaving 19 consonantal phonemes. Old Akkadian preserved the /*ś/ phoneme longest but it eventually merged with Shin (letter), /*š/, beginning in the First Babylonian dynasty, Old Babylonian period. The following table shows Proto-Semitic phonemes and their correspondences among Akkadian, Modern Standard Arabic and Tiberian Hebrew:


Vowels

The existence of a back mid-vowel has been proposed, but the cuneiform writing gives no good proof for this. There is limited contrast between different u-signs in lexical texts, but this scribal differentiation may reflect the superimposition of the Sumerian phonological system (for which an /o/ phoneme has also been proposed), rather than a separate phoneme in Akkadian. All consonants and
vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables * ...

vowel
s appear in long and short forms. Long consonants are represented in writing as double consonants, and long vowels are written with a macron (ā, ē, ī, ū). This distinction is phoneme, phonemic, and is used in the grammar, for example ''iprusu'' ('that he decided') versus ''iprusū'' ('they decided').


Stress

The stress (linguistics), stress patterns of Akkadian are disputed, with some authors claiming that nothing is known of the topic. There are however certain points of reference, such as the rule of vowel syncope, and some forms in the cuneiform that might represent the stressing of certain vowels; however, attempts at identifying a rule for stress have so far been unsuccessful. Huenergard (2005:3-4) claims that stress in Akkadian is completely predictable. In his syllable typology there are three syllable weights: ''light'' (V, CV); ''heavy'' (CVC, CV̄, CV̂), and ''superheavy'' (CV̂C). If the last syllable is superheavy, it is stressed, otherwise the rightmost heavy non-final syllable is stressed. If a word contains only light syllables, the first syllable is stressed. A rule of Akkadian phonology is that certain short (and probably unstressed) vowels are dropped. The rule is that the last vowel of a succession of syllables that end in a short vowel is dropped, for example the declinational root of the verbal adjective of a root PRS is ''PaRiS-''. Thus the masculine singular nominative is ''PaRS-um'' (< ''*PaRiS-um'') but the feminine singular nominative is ''PaRiStum'' (< ''*PaRiS-at-um''). Additionally there is a general tendency of syncope of short vowels in the later stages of Akkadian.


Grammar


Morphology


Consonantal root

Most roots of the Akkadian language consist of three consonants (called the radicals), but some roots are composed of four consonants (so-called quadriradicals). The radicals are occasionally represented in transcription in upper-case letters, for example ''PRS'' (to decide). Between and around these radicals various infixes, suffixes and prefixes, having word generating or grammatical functions, are inserted. The resulting consonant-vowel pattern differentiates the original meaning of the root. Also, the middle radical can be geminated, which is represented by a doubled consonant in transcription (and sometimes in the cuneiform writing itself). The consonants ', ', ' and ' are termed "weak radicals" and roots containing these radicals give rise to irregular forms.


Case, number and gender

Formally, Akkadian has three numbers (singular, dual and plural) and three cases (Nominative case, nominative, Accusative case, accusative and Genitive case, genitive). However, even in the earlier stages of the language, the dual number is vestigial, and its use is largely confined to natural pairs (eyes, ears, etc.), and adjectives are never found in the dual. In the dual and plural, the accusative and genitive are merged into a single oblique case. Akkadian, unlike Arabic language, Arabic,has only "sound" plurals formed by means of a plural ending (i.e. no broken plurals formed by changing the word stem). As in all Semitic languages, some masculine nouns take the prototypically feminine plural ending (''-āt''). The nouns ''šarrum'' (king) and ''šarratum'' (queen) and the adjective ''dannum'' (strong) will serve to illustrate the case system of Akkadian. As is clear from the above table, the adjective and noun endings differ only in the masculine plural. Certain nouns, primarily those referring to geography, can also form a locative ending in ''-um'' in the singular and the resulting forms serve as adverbials. These forms are generally not productive, but in the Neo-Babylonian the ''um''-locative replaces several constructions with the preposition ''ina''. In the later stages of Akkadian the mimation (word-final ''-m'') - along with nunation (dual final "-n") - that occurred at the end of most case endings disappeared, except in the locative. Later, the nominative and accusative singular of masculine nouns collapsed to ''-u'' and in Neo-Babylonian most word-final short vowels were dropped. As a result, case differentiation disappeared from all forms except masculine plural nouns. However many texts continued the practice of writing the case endings (although often sporadically and incorrectly). As the most important Language contact, contact language throughout this period was
Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent languages of the . During its three thousand years long history, Aramaic went thr ...
, which itself lacks case distinctions, it is possible that Akkadian's loss of cases was an areal as well as Phonology, phonological phenomenon.


Noun states and nominal sentences

As is also the case in other Semitic languages, Akkadian nouns may appear in a variety of "states" depending on their grammatical function in a sentence. The basic form of the noun is the ''status rectus'' (the governed state), which is the form as described above, complete with case endings. In addition to this, Akkadian has the ''status absolutus'' (the absolute state) and the ''status constructus'' (Construct state). The latter is found in all other Semitic languages, while the former appears only in Akkadian and some dialects of Aramaic. The status absolutus is characterised by the loss of a noun's case ending (e.g. ''awīl'' < ''awīlum'', ''šar'' < ''šarrum''). It is relatively uncommon, and is used chiefly to mark the predicate of a nominal sentence, in fixed adverbial expressions, and in expressions relating to measurements of length, weight, and the like. (1) ''Awīl-um šū šarrāq'' Translation: This man is a thief (2) ''šarrum lā šanān'' Translation: The king who cannot be rivaled The status constructus is a great deal more common, and has a much wider range of applications. It is employed when a noun is followed by another noun in the genitive, a pronominal suffix, or a verbal clause in the subjunctive, and typically takes the ''shortest form of the noun which is phonetically possible''. In general, this amounts to the loss of case endings with short vowels, with the exception of the genitive -i in nouns preceding a pronominal suffix, hence: (3) ''māri-šu'' Translation: His son, its (masculine) son but (4) ''mār šarr-im'' Translation: The king's son There are numerous exceptions to this general rule, usually involving potential violations of the language's phonological limitations. Most obviously, Akkadian does not tolerate word final consonant clusters, so nouns like ''kalbum'' (dog) and ''maḫrum'' (front) would have illegal construct state forms ''*kalb'' and ''*maḫr'' unless modified. In many of these instances, the first vowel of the word is simply repeated (e.g. ''kalab'', ''maḫar''). This rule, however, does not always hold true, especially in nouns where a short vowel has historically been elided (e.g. ''šaknum'' < ''*šakinum'' "governor"). In these cases, the lost vowel is restored in the construct state (so ''šaknum'' yields ''šakin''). (5) ''kalab belim'' Translation: The master's dog (6) ''šakin ālim'' A genitive relation can also be expressed with the relative preposition ''ša'', and the noun that the genitive phrase depends on appears in status rectus. (7) salīmātum ša awīl Ešnunna Translation: The alliances of the Ruler of Ešnunna (literally "Alliances which man of Ešnunna (has)") The same preposition is also used to introduce true relative clauses, in which case the verb is placed in the subjunctive mood. (7) ''awīl-um ša māt-am i-kšud-Ø-u'' Translation: The man who conquered the land.


Verbal morphology


=Verb aspects

= The Akkadian verb has six Finite verb, finite Grammatical aspect, verb aspects (preterite, Perfective, perfect, present tense, present, imperative (grammar), imperative, Irrealis mood#Precative, precative and vetitive) and three Non-finite verb, infinite forms (infinitive, participle and Non-finite verb, verbal adjective). The preterite is used for actions that are seen by the speaker as having occurred at a single point in time. The present is primarily imperfective in meaning and is used for concurrent and future actions as well as past actions with a temporal dimension. The final three finite forms are Injunctive mood, injunctive where the imperative and the precative together form a paradigm for positive commands and wishes, and the vetitive is used for negative wishes. Additionally the Periphrasis, periphrastic Imperative mood#Indicative and prohibitive mood, prohibitive, formed by the present form of the verb and the negative adverb lā, is used to express negative commands. The infinitive of the Akkadian verb is a verbal noun, and in contrast to some other languages the Akkadian infinitive can be declined in grammatical case, case. The verbal adjective is an adjectival form and designates the state or the result of the action of the verb, and consequently the exact meaning of the verbal adjective is determined by the semantics of the verb itself. The participle, which can be active or passive, is another verbal adjective and its meaning is similar to the English gerund. The following table shows the conjugation of the Derived stem, G-stem verbs derived from the root PRS ("to decide") in the various verb aspects of Akkadian: The table below shows the different affixes attached to the preterite aspect of the verb root PRS "to decide"; and as can be seen, the grammatical genders differ only in the second person singular and third person plural.


=Verb moods

= Akkadian verbs have 3 moods: #Indicative, used in independent clauses, is unmarked. #Subjunctive, used in dependent clauses. The subjunctive is marked in forms which do not end in a vowel by the suffix -u (compare Arabic and Ugaritic subjunctives), but is otherwise unmarked. In the later stages of most dialects, the subjunctive is indistinct, as short final vowels were mostly lost #Ventive, Venitive or allative. The venitive is not a mood in the strictest sense, being a development of the 1st person dative pronominal suffix -am/-m/-nim. With verbs of motion, it often indicates motion towards an object or person (e.g. ''illik'', "he went" vs. ''illikam'', "he came"). However, this pattern is not consistent, even in earlier stages of the language, and its use often appears to serve a stylistic rather than morphological or lexical function. The following table demonstrates the verb moods of verbs derived from the root PRS ("to decide","to separate"):


=Verb patterns

= Akkadian verbs have thirteen separate derived stems formed on each Triliteral, root. The basic, underived, stem is the G-stem (from the German Grundstamm, meaning "basic stem"). Causative or intensive forms are formed with the doubled D-stem, and it gets its name from the doubled-middle radical that is characteristic of this form. The doubled middle radical is also characteristic of the present, but the forms of the D-stem use the secondary conjugational affixes, so a D-form will never be identical to a form in a different stem. The Š-stem is formed by adding a prefix ''š-'', and these forms are mostly causatives. Finally, the passive forms of the verb are in the N-stem, formed by adding a ''n-'' prefix. However the ''n-'' element is assimilated to a following consonant, so the original /n/ is only visible in a few forms. Furthermore, reflexive verb, reflexive and iterative verbal stems can be derived from each of the basic stems. The reflexive stem is formed with an infix ''-ta'', and the derived stems are therefore called Gt, Dt, Št and Nt, and the preterite forms of the Xt-stem are identical to the perfects of the X-stem. Iteratives are formed with the infix ''-tan-'', giving the Gtn, Dtn, Štn and Ntn. Because of the Assimilation (linguistics), assimilation of ''n'', the /n/ is only seen in the present forms, and the Xtn preterite is identical to the Xt Dynamic verb, durative. The final stem is the ŠD-stem, a form mostly attested only in poetic texts, and whose meaning is usually identical to either the Š-stem or the D-stem of the same verb. It is formed with the Š prefix (like the Š-stem) in addition to a doubled-middle radical (like the D-stem). An alternative to this naming system is a numerical system. The basic stems are numbered using Roman numerals so that G, D, Š and N become I, II, III and IV, respectively, and the infixes are numbered using Arabic numerals; 1 for the forms without an infix, 2 for the Xt, and 3 for the Xtn. The two numbers are separated using a solidus. As an example, the Štn-stem is called III/3. The most important user of this system is the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary. There is mandatory congruence between the subject of the sentence and the verb, and this is expressed by prefixes and suffixes. There are two different sets of affixes, a primary set used for the forms of the G and N-stems, and a secondary set for the D and Š-stems. The stems, their nomenclature and examples of the third-person masculine singular Akkadian language#Stative, stative of the verb ''parāsum'' (root PRS: 'to decide, distinguish, separate') is shown below:


Stative

A very often appearing form which can be formed by nouns, adjectives as well as by predicative verb, verbal adjectives is the stative. Predicative (adjectival or nominal), Nominal predicatives occur in the status absolutus and correspond to the verb "to be" in English. The stative in Akkadian corresponds to the Egyptian language, Egyptian pseudo-participle. The following table contains an example of using the noun ''šarrum'' (king), the adjective ''rapšum'' (wide) and the verbal adjective ''parsum'' (decided). Thus, the stative in Akkadian is used to convert simple stems into effective sentences, so that the form ''šarr-āta'' is equivalent to: "you were king", "you are king" and "you will be king". Hence, the stative is independent of time forms.


Derivation

Beside the already explained possibility of derivation of different verb stems, Akkadian has numerous nominal formations derived from verb triliteral, roots. A very frequently encountered form is the maPRaS form. It can express the location of an event, the person performing the act and many other meanings. If one of the root consonants is labial consonant, labial (p, b, m), the prefix becomes na- (maPRaS > naPRaS). Examples for this are: ''maškanum'' (place, location) from ŠKN (set, place, put), ''mašraḫum'' (splendour) from ŠRḪ (be splendid), ''maṣṣarum'' (guards) from NṢR (guard), ''napḫarum'' (sum) from PḪR (summarize). A very similar formation is the maPRaSt form. The noun derived from this nominal formation is grammatically feminine. The same rules as for the maPRaS form apply, for example ''maškattum'' (deposit) from ŠKN (set, place, put), ''narkabtum'' (carriage) from RKB (ride, drive, mount). The suffix - ūt is used to derive Noun#Concrete nouns and abstract nouns, abstract nouns. The nouns which are formed with this suffix are grammatically feminine. The suffix can be attached to nouns, adjectives and verbs, e.g. ''abūtum'' (paternity) from ''abum'' (father), ''rabutum'' (size) from ''rabum'' (large), ''waṣūtum'' (leaving) from WṢY (leave). Also derivatives of verbs from nouns, adjectives and numerals are numerous. For the most part, a D-stem is derived from the root of the noun or adjective. The derived verb then has the meaning of "make X do something" or "becoming X", for example: ''duššûm'' (let sprout) from ''dišu'' (grass), ''šullušum'' (to do something for the third time ) from ''šalāš'' (three).


Pronouns


Personal pronouns


=Independent personal pronouns

= Independent personal pronouns in Akkadian are as follows:


=Suffixed (or enclitic) pronouns

= Suffixed (or enclitic) pronouns (mainly denoting the genitive, accusative and dative) are as follows:


Demonstrative pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns in Akkadian differ from the West Semitic languages, Western Semitic variety. The following table shows the Akkadian demonstrative pronouns according to near and far deixis:


Relative pronouns

Relative pronouns in Akkadian are shown in the following table: Unlike plural relative pronouns, singular relative pronouns in Akkadian exhibit full declension for case. However, only the form ''ša'' (originally accusative masculine singular) survived, while the other forms disappeared in time.


Interrogative pronouns

The following table shows the interrogative pronouns used in Akkadian:


Prepositions

Akkadian has prepositions which consist mainly of only one word. For example: ''ina'' (in, on, out, through, under), ''ana'' (to, for, after, approximately), ''adi'' (to), ''aššu'' (because of), ''eli'' (up, over), ''ištu/ultu'' (of, since), ''mala'' (in accordance with), ''itti'' (also, with). There are, however, some compound prepositions which are combined with ''ina'' and ''ana'' (e.g. ''ina maḫar'' (forwards), ''ina balu'' (without), ''ana ṣēr'' (up to), ''ana maḫar'' (forwards). Regardless of the complexity of the preposition, the following noun is always in the genitive case ending, case. Examples: ''ina bītim'' (in the house, from the house), ''ana dummuqim'' (to do good), ''itti šarrim'' (with the king), ''ana ṣēr mārīšu'' (up to his son).


Numerals

Since Numeral system, numerals are written mostly as a number sign in the
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is name ...

cuneiform
script, the transliteration of many numerals is not well ascertained yet. Along with the counted noun, the cardinal number, cardinal numerals are in the status absolutus. Because other cases are very rare, the forms of the status rectus are known only by isolated numerals. The numerals 1 and 2 as well as 21–29, 31–39, 41–49 correspond with the counted in the grammatical gender, while the numerals 3–20, 30, 40 and 50 are characterized by polarity of gender, i.e. if the counted noun is masculine, the numeral would be feminine and vice versa. This polarity is typical of the Semitic languages and appears also in Arabic language, classical Arabic for example. The numerals 60, 100 and 1000 do not change according to the gender of the counted noun. Counted nouns more than two appear in the plural form. However, body parts which occur in pairs appear in the dual (grammatical number), dual form in Akkadian. e.g. ''šepum'' (foot) becomes ''šepān'' (two feet). The ordinal number, ordinals are formed (with a few exceptions) by adding a case ending to the nominal form PaRuS (the P, R and S. must be substituted with the suitable consonants of the numeral). It is noted, however, that in the case of the numeral "one", the ordinal (masculine) and the cardinal number are the same. A Metathesis (linguistics), metathesis occurs in the numeral "four". Examples: erbē aššātum (four wives) (masculine numeral), meat ālānū (100 towns).


Syntax


Nominal phrases

Adjectives, relative clauses and appositions follow the noun. While Numeral (linguistics), numerals precede the counted noun. In the following table the nominal phrase ''erbēt šarrū dannūtum ša ālam īpušū abūya'' 'the four strong kings who built the city are my fathers' is analyzed:


Sentence syntax

Akkadian sentence order was Subject+Object+Verb (SOV), which sets it apart from most other ancient Semitic languages such as Arabic language, Arabic and Biblical Hebrew language, Biblical Hebrew, which typically have a
verb–subject–object In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for s ...
(VSO) word order. (Modern South Semitic languages in Ethiopia also have SOV order, but these developed within historical times from the classical
verb–subject–object In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for s ...
(VSO) language Ge'ez language, Ge'ez.) It has been hypothesized that this word order was a result of influence from the Sumerian language, which was also SOV. There is evidence that native speakers of both languages were in intimate language contact, forming a single society for at least 500 years, so it is entirely likely that a sprachbund could have formed. Further evidence of an original VSO or SVO ordering can be found in the fact that direct and indirect object pronouns are suffixed to the verb. Word order seems to have shifted to SVO/VSO late in the 1st millennium BC to the 1st millennium AD, possibly under the influence of
Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent languages of the . During its three thousand years long history, Aramaic went thr ...
.


Vocabulary

The Akkadian vocabulary is mostly of Semitic languages, Semitic origin. Although classified as 'East Semitic', many elements of its basic vocabulary find no evident parallels in related Semitic languages. For example: ''māru'' 'son' (Semitic *bn), ''qātu'' 'hand' (Semitic *yd), ''šēpu'' 'foot' (Semitic *rgl), ''qabû'' 'say' (Semitic *qwl), ''izuzzu'' 'stand' (Semitic *qwm), ''ana'' 'to, for' (Semitic *li). Due to extensive contact with Sumerian and Aramaic, the Akkadian vocabulary contains many loan words from these languages. Aramaic loan words, however, were limited to the 1st centuries of the 1st millennium BC and primarily in the north and middle parts of
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
, whereas Sumerian loan words were spread in the whole linguistic area. Beside the previous languages, some nouns were borrowed from Hurrian, Kassite language, Kassite, Ugaritic and other ancient languages. Since Sumerian and Hurrian, two non-Semitic languages, differ from Akkadian in word structure, only nouns and some adjectives (not many verbs) were borrowed from these languages. However, some verbs were borrowed (along with many nouns) from Aramaic and Ugaritic, both of which are Semitic languages. The following table contains examples of loan words in Akkadian: Akkadian was also a source of borrowing to other languages, above all . Some examples are: Sumerian ''da-ri'' ('lastingly', from Akkadian ''dāru''), Sumerian ''ra gaba'' ('riders, messenger', from Akkadian ''rākibu''). The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago recently completed a 21-volume dictionary of the Akkadian language, which is available commercially an
online


Sample text

The following is the 7th section of the Code of Hammurabi, Hammurabi law code, written in the mid-18th century BC: Translation: :''If a man has bought silver or gold, a male or a female slave,
an ox, a sheep, or a donkey—or anything for that matter—
from another man or from another man’s slave without witnesses or contract,
or if he accepted something for safekeeping without same,
then this man is a thief and hence to be killed.''


Akkadian literature

*Atrahasis Epic (early 2nd millennium BC) *Enûma Elish (c. 18th century BC) *Amarna letters (14th century BC) *Epic of Gilgamesh (Sin-liqe-unninni', Standard Babylonian version, 13th to 11th century BC) *Ludlul bēl nēmeqi, Ludlul Bel Nemeqi


Notes


Sources

*Aro, Jussi (1957). ''Studien zur mittelbabylonischen Grammatik''. Studia Orientalia 22. Helsinki: Societas Orientalis Fennica. *Buccellati, Giorgio (1996). ''A Structural Grammar of Babylonian''. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. *Buccellati, Giorgio (1997). "Akkadian," ''The Semitic Languages''. Ed. Robert Hetzron. New York: Routledge. Pages 69–99. *Bussmann, Hadumod (1996). ''Routledge Dictionary of Language and Linguistics''. New York: Routledge. *Caplice, Richard (1980). ''Introduction to Akkadian''. Rome: Biblical Institute Press. (1983: ; 1988, 2002: ) (The 1980 edition is partly availabl
online
) * * *Gelb, I.J. (1961). ''Old Akkadian Writing and Grammar''. Second edition. Materials for the Assyrian Dictionary 2. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. *Huehnergard, John (2005). ''A Grammar of Akkadian (Second Edition)''. Eisenbrauns. *Marcus, David (1978). ''A Manual of Akkadian''. University Press of America. *Mercer, Samuel A B (1961). ''Introductory Assyrian Grammar''. New York: F Ungar. * *Wolfram von Soden, Soden, Wolfram von (1952). ''Grundriss der akkadischen Grammatik''. Analecta Orientalia 33. Roma: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum. (3rd ed., 1995: ) *Woodard, Roger D. The Ancient Languages of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Aksum. Cambridge University Press 2008.


Further reading


General description and grammar

* Gelb, I. J. (1961). ''Old Akkadian writing and grammar''. Materials for the Assyrian dictionary, no. 2. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. * Hasselbach, Rebecca. ''Sargonic Akkadian: A Historical and Comparative Study of the Syllabic Texts''. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag 2005. * Huehnergard, J. ''A Grammar of Akkadian'' (3rd ed. 2011). Harvard Semitic Museum Studies 45

requires login) * Huehnergard, J. (2005). ''A Key to ''A Grammar of Akkadian'' ''. Harvard Semitic Studies. Eisenbraun

requires login) * Wolfram von Soden, Soden, Wolfram von: ''Grundriß der Akkadischen Grammatik''. Analecta Orientalia. Bd 33. Rom 1995. * Streck, Michael P. ''Sprachen des Alten Orients''. Wiss. Buchges., Darmstadt 2005. * Ungnad, Arthur: ''Grammatik des Akkadischen.'' Neubearbeitung durch L. Matouš, München 1969, 1979 (5. Aufl.). *Woodard, Roger D. ''The Ancient Languages of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Aksum''. Cambridge University Press 2008. *Ikeda, Jun. ''Early Japanese and Early Akkadian Writing Systems.'' University of Tsukuba. 200


Textbooks

* Rykle Borger: ''Babylonisch-assyrische Lesestücke.'' Rom 1963.(3., revidierte Auflage, 2006 Teil. I-II) **Part I: ''Elemente der Grammatik und der Schrift. Übungsbeispiele. Glossar.'' **Part II: ''Die Texte in Umschrift.'' **Part III: ''Kommentar. Die Texte in Keilschrift.'' * Richard Caplice: ''Introduction to Akkadian.'' Biblical Institute Press, Rome 1988, 2002 (4.Aufl.). * Kaspar K. Riemschneider: ''Lehrbuch des Akkadischen.'' Enzyklopädie, Leipzig 1969, Langenscheidt Verl. Enzyklopädie, Leipzig 1992 (6. Aufl.). * Martin Worthington: "Complete Babylonian: Teach Yourself" London 2010


Dictionaries

* Jeremy G. Black, Andrew George, Nicholas Postgate: ''A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian.'' Harrassowitz-Verlag, Wiesbaden 2000. * Wolfram von Soden: ''Akkadisches Handwörterbuch.'' 3 Bde. Wiesbaden 1958–1981. * Martha T. Roth, ed.: ''Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.'' 21 vols. in 26. Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Chicago 1956–2010.
available free online


Akkadian cuneiform

*Cherry, A. (2003). ''A basic neo-Assyrian cuneiform syllabary''. Toronto, Ont: Ashur Cherry, York University. *Cherry, A. (2003). ''Basic individual logograms (Akkadian)''. Toronto, Ont: Ashur Cherry, York University. *Rykle Borger: ''Mesopotamisches Zeichenlexikon.'' Alter Orient und Altes Testament (AOAT). Bd 305. Ugarit-Verlag, Münster 2004. *René Labat (assyriologist), René Labat: ''Manuel d'Épigraphie Akkadienne.'' Paul Geuthner, Paris 1976, 1995 (6.Aufl.).


Translations

*Shin Shifra, Jacob Klein (1996). ''In Those Far Days''. Tel Aviv, Am Oved and The Israeli Center for Libraries' project for translating Exemplary Literature to Hebrew. This is an anthology of Sumerian and Akkadian poetry, translated into Hebrew.


Technical literature on specific subjects

* Ignace J. Gelb: ''Old Akkadian Writing and Grammar.'' Materials for the Assyrian dictionary. Bd 2. University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1952, 1961, 1973. * Markus Hilgert: ''Akkadisch in der Ur III-Zeit.'' Rhema-Verlag, Münster 2002. * Walter Sommerfeld: ''Bemerkungen zur Dialektgliederung Altakkadisch, Assyrisch und Babylonisch.'' In: ''Alter Orient und Altes Testament'' (AOAT). Ugarit-Verlag, Münster 274.2003.


External links


Introduction to Cuneiform Script and the Akkadian language
o
The Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus (Oracc)
* *[http://www.language-museum.com/encyclopedia/a/akkadian-cuneiform.php Akkadian Language Samples]
A detailed introduction to Akkadian''Assyrian grammar with chrestomathy and glossary (1921)'' by Samuel A B MercerAkkadian-English-French Online DictionaryThe Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (CAD)Old Akkadian Writing and Grammar, by I. J. Gelb, 2nd Ed. (1961)Glossary of Old Akkadian, by I. J. Gelb (1957)List of 1280 Akkadian roots, with a representative verb form for eachRecordings of Assyriologists Reading Babylonian and AssyrianUnicode Fonts for Ancient Scripts
and Akkadian font for Ubuntu Linux-based operating system (ttf-ancient-fonts)

*[https://wikis.hu-berlin.de/interlinear_glossing/Akkadian:Glossing_of_common_Akkadian_forms Akkadian in the wiki ''Glossing Ancient Languages''] (recommendations for the Interlinear gloss, Interlinear Morphemic Glossing of Akkadian texts) {{authority control Akkadian language, Languages attested from the 3rd millennium BC Languages extinct in the 8th century BC