Sumerian (Cuneiform: " native tongue")
is the language of ancient
Sumer () is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (south-central Iraq), emerging during the Chalcolithic and early Bronze Ages between the sixth and fifth millennium BC. It is one of the cradles of ...
. It is one of the oldest attested languages, dating back to at least 3000 BC. It is accepted to be a local language isolate
and to have been spoken in ancient
Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...
, in the area that is modern-day Iraq
, a Semitic language, gradually replaced Sumerian as a spoken language in the area around 2000 BC (the exact date is debated),
[ but Sumerian continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial, literary and scientific language in Akkadian-speaking Mesopotamian states such as ] Assyria
Assyria (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: , romanized: ''māt Aššur''; syc, ܐܬܘܪ, ʾāthor) was a major ancient Mesopotamian civilization which existed as a city-state at times controlling regional territories in the indigenous lands of the A ... and Babylonia until the 1st century AD. [ Thereafter it seems to have fallen into obscurity until the 19th century, when Assyriologists began deciphering the cuneiform inscriptions and excavated tablets that had been left by its speakers.
The history of written Sumerian can be divided into several periods:
*Archaic Sumerian – 31st–26th century BC
*Old or Classical Sumerian – 26th–23rd century BC
*Neo-Sumerian – 23rd–21st century BC
*Late Sumerian – 20th–18th century BC
*Post-Sumerian – after 1700 BC.
Archaic Sumerian is the earliest stage of inscriptions with linguistic content, beginning with the
Jemdet Nasr ( ar, جمدة نصر) is a tell or settlement mound in Babil Governorate (Iraq) that is best known as the eponymous type site for the Jemdet Nasr period (3100–2900 BC), and was one of the oldest Sumerian cities. The site was fir ... (Uruk III) period from about the 31st to 30th centuries BC. It succeeds the proto-literate period, which spans roughly the 35th to 30th centuries.
Some versions of the chronology may omit the Late Sumerian phase and regard all texts written after 2000 BC as Post-Sumerian. The term "Post-Sumerian" is meant to refer to the time when the language was already extinct and preserved by Babylonians and Assyria
Assyria (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: , romanized: ''māt Aššur''; syc, ܐܬܘܪ, ʾāthor) was a major ancient Mesopotamian civilization which existed as a city-state at times controlling regional territories in the indigenous lands of the A ...ns only as a liturgical
Liturgy is the customary public ritual of worship performed by a religious group. ''Liturgy'' can also be used to refer specifically to public worship by Christians. As a religious phenomenon, liturgy represents a communal response to and partic ... and classical language for religious, artistic and scholarly purposes. The extinction has traditionally been dated approximately to the end of the Third Dynasty of Ur
The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 22nd to 21st century BC ( middle chronology) Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state which some historians consider t ..., the last predominantly Sumerian state in Mesopotamia, about 2000 BC. However, that date is very approximate, as many scholars have contended that Sumerian was already dead or dying as early as around 2100 BC, by the beginning of the Ur III period, [ and others believe that Sumerian persisted, as a spoken language, in a small part of Southern Mesopotamia ( Nippur and its surroundings) until as late as 1700 BC.] [ Whatever the status of spoken Sumerian between 2000 and 1700 BC, it is from then that a particularly large quantity of literary texts and bilingual Sumerian-Akkadian lexical lists survive, especially from the scribal school of Nippur. They and the particularly intensive official and literary use of the language in Akkadian-speaking states during the same time call for a distinction between the Late Sumerian and the Post-Sumerian periods. Sumerian school documents from the ] Sealand Dynasty
The First Sealand dynasty, (URU.KÙKIWhere ŠEŠ-ḪA of King List A and ŠEŠ-KÙ-KI of King List B are read as URU.KÙ.KI) or the 2nd Dynasty of Babylon (although it was independent of Amorite-ruled Babylon), very speculatively c. 1732–1460 BC ... were found at Tell Khaiber
Tell Khaiber () is a tell, or archaeological settlement mound, in southern Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). It is located thirteen kilometers west of the modern city of Nasiriyah, about 19 kilometers northwest of the ancient city of Ur in Dhiq Qa ..., some of which contain year names from the reign of a king with the Sumerian throne name Aya-dara-galama.
The standard variety of Sumerian was ''Emegir'' ( ). A notable variety or sociolect was ''Emesal'' ( eme-sal),
possibly to be interpreted as "fine tongue" or "high-pitched voice" . Other terms for dialects or registers were ''eme-galam'' "high tongue", ''eme-si-sa'' "straight tongue", ''eme-te-na'' "oblique tongue", etc.
''Emesal'' is used exclusively by female characters in some literary texts (that may be compared to the female languages or language varieties that exist or have existed in some cultures, such as among the
The Chukchi, or Chukchee ( ckt, Ԓыгъоравэтԓьэт, О'равэтԓьэт, ''Ḷygʺoravètḷʹèt, O'ravètḷʹèt''), are a Siberian indigenous people native to the Chukchi Peninsula, the shores of the Chukchi Sea and the Ber ... and the Garifuna
The Garifuna people ( or ; pl. Garínagu in Garifuna) are a people of mixed free African and indigenous American ancestry that originated in the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent and speak Garifuna, an Arawakan language, and Vincentian ...). In addition, it is dominant in certain genres of cult songs such as the hymns sung by Gala priests. The special features of ''Emesal'' are mostly phonological (for example, ''m'' is often used instead of ''g̃'' .e. as in ''me'' instead of standard ''g̃e26'' for "I"), but words different from the standard language are also used (''ga-ša-an'' rather than standard ''nin'', "lady").
Sumerian is a language isolate.
Ever since decipherment, it has been the subject of much effort to relate it to a wide variety of languages. Because it has a peculiar prestige as one of the most ancient written languages, proposals for linguistic affinity sometimes have a nationalistic background. Such proposals enjoy virtually no support among linguists because of their unverifiability. [ Sumerian was at one time widely held to be an Indo-European language, but that view later came to be almost universally rejected.
Among its proposed linguistic affiliates are:
* Kartvelian languages ( Nicholas Marr)
* Austroasiatic languages, specifically Munda languages ( Igor M. Diakonoff)
* Dravidian languages (A. Sathasivam)
*] Uralic languages
The Uralic languages (; sometimes called Uralian languages ) form a language family of 38 languages spoken by approximately 25million people, predominantly in Northern Eurasia. The Uralic languages with the most native speakers are Hungarian ( ... ( Simo Parpola Simo Kaarlo Antero Parpola (born 4 July 1943) is a Finnish Assyriologist specializing in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Professor emeritus of Assyriology at the University of Helsinki (retired fall 2009).
Simo Parpola studied Assyriology, ... [ (work in process)]) or, more generally, Ural–Altaic languages (Simo Parpola, C. G. Gostony, András Zakar, Ida Bobula )
* Basque language
* Nostratic languages ( Allan Bomhard )
* Sino-Tibetan languages
Sino-Tibetan, also cited as Trans-Himalayan in a few sources, is a family of more than 400 languages, second only to Indo-European in number of native speakers. The vast majority of these are the 1.3 billion native speakers of Chinese languages. ..., specifically Tibeto-Burman languages
The Tibeto-Burman languages are the non- Sinitic members of the Sino-Tibetan language family, over 400 of which are spoken throughout the Southeast Asian Massif ("Zomia") as well as parts of East Asia and South Asia. Around 60 million people sp ... (Jan Braun, [.] following C. J. Ball, V. Christian, K. Bouda, and V. Emeliyanov)
* Dené–Caucasian languages
Dené–Caucasian is a proposed language family that includes widely-separated language groups spoken in the Northern Hemisphere: Sino-Tibetan languages, Yeniseian languages, Burushaski and North Caucasian languages in Asia; Na-Dené languages i ... ( John Bengtson)
It has also been suggested that the Sumerian language descended from a late prehistoric creole language (Høyrup 1992). However, no conclusive evidence, only some typological features, can be found to support Høyrup's view.
A more widespread hypothesis posits a Proto-Euphratean language that preceded Sumerian in Southern Mesopotamia and exerted an areal influence on it, especially in the form of polysyllabic words that appear "un-Sumerian"—making them suspect of being loanwords—and are not traceable to any other known language. There is little speculation as to the affinities of this substratum
In linguistics, a stratum ( Latin for "layer") or strate is a language that influences or is influenced by another through contact. A substratum or substrate is a language that has lower power or prestige than another, while a superstratum or s ... language, or these languages, and it is thus best treated as unclassified. Researchers such as Gonzalo Rubio disagree with the assumption of a single substratum language and argue that several languages are involved. A related proposal by Gordon Whittaker is that the language of the proto-literary texts from the Late Uruk period ( 3350–3100 BC) is really an early Indo-European language which he terms "Euphratic".
The Sumerian language is one of the earliest known written languages. The "proto-literate" period of Sumerian writing spans c. 3300 to 3000 BC. In this period, records are purely logographic, with no phonological content. The oldest document of the proto-literate period is the
The Kish tablet is a limestone tablet found at the site of the ancient Sumerian city of Kish in modern-day Tell al-Uhaymir, Babil Governorate, Iraq. A plaster-cast of the artifact is today in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum. The original .... Falkenstein (1936) lists 939 signs used in the proto-literate period ( late Uruk, 34th to 31st centuries).
Records with unambiguously linguistic content, identifiably Sumerian, are those found at Jemdet Nasr
Jemdet Nasr ( ar, جمدة نصر) is a tell or settlement mound in Babil Governorate (Iraq) that is best known as the eponymous type site for the Jemdet Nasr period (3100–2900 BC), and was one of the oldest Sumerian cities. The site was fir ..., dating to the 31st or 30th century BC. From about 2600 BC, the logographic symbols were generalized using a wedge-shaped stylus to impress the shapes into wet clay. This ''cuneiform'' ("wedge-shaped") mode of writing co-existed with the pre-cuneiform archaic mode. Deimel (1922) lists 870 signs used in the Early Dynastic IIIa period (26th century). In the same period the large set of logographic signs had been simplified into a logosyllabic script comprising several hundred signs. Rosengarten (1967) lists 468 signs used in Sumerian (pre- Sargonian) Lagash. The pre-Sargonian period of the 26th to 24th centuries BC is the "Classical Sumerian" stage of the language.
The cuneiform script was adapted to Akkadian writing beginning in the mid-third millennium. Over the long period of bi-lingual overlap of active Sumerian and Akkadian usage the two languages influenced each other, as reflected in numerous loanwords and even word order changes.
Depending on the context, a cuneiform sign can be read either as one of several possible
In a written language, a logogram, logograph, or lexigraph is a written character that represents a word or morpheme. Chinese characters (pronounced '' hanzi'' in Mandarin, ''kanji'' in Japanese, ''hanja'' in Korean) are generally logograms, ..., each of which corresponds to a word in the Sumerian spoken language, as a phonetic syllable (V, VC, CV, or CVC), or as a determinative
A determinative, also known as a taxogram or semagram, is an ideogram used to mark semantic categories of words in logographic scripts which helps to disambiguate interpretation. They have no direct counterpart in spoken language, though they may ... (a marker of semantic category, such as occupation or place). (See the article Transliterating cuneiform languages.) Some Sumerian logograms were written with multiple cuneiform signs. These logograms are called diri-spellings, after the logogram 'diri' which is written with the signs SI and A. The text transliteration of a tablet will show just the logogram, such as the word 'diri', not the separate component signs.
Not all epigraphists are equally reliable, and before publication of an important treatment of a text, scholars will often arrange to collate the published transcription against the actual tablet, to see if any signs, especially broken or damaged signs, should be represented differently.
: '' DNa-ra-am D Sîn'', ''Sîn'' being written 𒂗𒍪 EN.ZU), appears vertically in the right column. British Museum.
The key to reading
In a written language, a logogram, logograph, or lexigraph is a written character that represents a word or morpheme. Chinese characters (pronounced ''hanzi'' in Mandarin, ''kanji'' in Japanese, ''hanja'' in Korean) are generally logograms, as ... cuneiform came from the Behistun inscription, a trilingual cuneiform inscription written in Old Persian, Elamite and Akkadian. (In a similar manner, the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphs was the bilingual (Greek and Egyptian with the Egyptian text in two scripts) Rosetta stone and Jean-François Champollion's transcription in 1822.)
In 1838 Henry Rawlinson, building on the 1802 work of Georg Friedrich Grotefend, was able to decipher
DECIPHER is a web-based resource and database of genomic variation data from analysis of patient DNA. It documents submicroscopic chromosome abnormalities ( microdeletions and duplications) and pathogenic sequence variants (single nucleotide ... the Old Persian section of the Behistun inscriptions, using his knowledge of modern Persian. When he recovered the rest of the text in 1843, he and others were gradually able to translate the Elamite and Akkadian sections of it, starting with the 37 signs he had deciphered for the Old Persian. Meanwhile, many more cuneiform texts were coming to light from archaeological excavations, mostly in the Semitic Akkadian language
Akkadian (, Akkadian: )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 East Semitic language tha ..., which were duly deciphered.
By 1850, however, Edward Hincks
Edward Hincks (19 August 1792 – 3 December 1866) was an Irish clergyman, best remembered as an Assyriologist and one of the decipherers of Mesopotamian cuneiform. He was one of the three men known as the "holy trinity of cuneiform", with S ... came to suspect a non-Semitic origin for cuneiform. Semitic languages are structured according to consonantal forms, whereas cuneiform, when functioning phonetically, was a syllabary
In the linguistic study of written languages, a syllabary is a set of written symbols that represent the syllables or (more frequently) moras which make up words.
A symbol in a syllabary, called a syllabogram, typically represents an (option ..., binding consonants to particular vowels. Furthermore, no Semitic words could be found to explain the syllabic values given to particular signs. Julius Oppert suggested that a non-Semitic language had preceded Akkadian in Mesopotamia, and that speakers of this language had developed the cuneiform script.
In 1855 Rawlinson announced the discovery of non-Semitic inscriptions at the southern Babylonian sites of Nippur, Larsa, and Uruk
Uruk, also known as Warka or Warkah, was an ancient city of Sumer (and later of Babylonia) situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq.H ....
In 1856, Hincks argued that the untranslated language was agglutinative
In linguistics, agglutination is a morphological process in which words are formed by stringing together morphemes, each of which corresponds to a single syntactic feature. Languages that use agglutination widely are called agglutinative langu ... in character. The language was called "Scythic" by some, and, confusingly, "Akkadian" by others. In 1869, Oppert proposed the name "Sumerian", based on the known title "King of Sumer and Akkad", reasoning that if Akkad signified the Semitic portion of the kingdom, Sumer
Sumer () is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (south-central Iraq), emerging during the Chalcolithic and early Bronze Ages between the sixth and fifth millennium BC. It is one of the cradles of ... might describe the non-Semitic annex.
Credit for being first to scientifically treat a bilingual Sumerian-Akkadian text belongs to Paul Haupt Hermann Hugo Paul Haupt (25 November 1858 in Görlitz – 15 December 1926 in Baltimore, Maryland) was a Semitic scholar, one of the pioneers of Assyriology in the United States.
He studied at the universities of Berlin and Leipzig. In 1880 he b ..., who published ''Die sumerischen Familiengesetze'' (The Sumerian family laws) in 1879.
Ernest de Sarzec began excavating the Sumerian site of Tello (ancient Girsu, capital of the state of Lagash) in 1877, and published the first part of ''Découvertes en Chaldée'' with transcriptions of Sumerian tablets in 1884. The University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania (also known as Penn or UPenn) is a private research university in Philadelphia. It is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and is ranked among the highest-regarded universiti ... began excavating Sumerian Nippur in 1888.
''A Classified List of Sumerian Ideographs'' by R. Brünnow appeared in 1889.
The bewildering number and variety of phonetic values that signs could have in Sumerian led to a detour in understanding the language – a Paris
Paris () is the capital and most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,165,423 residents in 2019 in an area of more than 105 km² (41 sq mi), making it the 30th most densely populated city in the world in 2020. Si ...-based orientalist, Joseph Halévy, argued from 1874 onward that Sumerian was not a natural language, but rather a secret code (a cryptolect
A cant is the jargon or language of a group, often employed to exclude or mislead people outside the group.McArthur, T. (ed.) ''The Oxford Companion to the English Language'' (1992) Oxford University Press It may also be called a cryptolect, argot ...), and for over a decade the leading Assyriologists battled over this issue. For a dozen years, starting in 1885, Friedrich Delitzsch accepted Halévy's arguments, not renouncing Halévy until 1897.
François Thureau-Dangin working at the Louvre in Paris also made significant contributions to deciphering Sumerian with publications from 1898 to 1938, such as his 1905 publication of ''Les inscriptions de Sumer et d'Akkad''. Charles Fossey at the Collège de France in Paris was another prolific and reliable scholar. His pioneering ''Contribution au Dictionnaire sumérien–assyrien'', Paris 1905–1907, turns out to provide the foundation for P. Anton Deimel's 1934 ''Sumerisch-Akkadisches Glossar'' (vol. III of Deimel's 4-volume ''Sumerisches Lexikon'').
In 1908, Stephen Herbert Langdon summarized the rapid expansion in knowledge of Sumerian and Akkadian vocabulary in the pages of ''Babyloniaca'', a journal edited by Charles Virolleaud, in an article "Sumerian-Assyrian Vocabularies", which reviewed a valuable new book on rare logograms by Bruno Meissner. Subsequent scholars have found Langdon's work, including his tablet transcriptions, to be not entirely reliable.
In 1944, the Sumerologist Samuel Noah Kramer
Samuel Noah Kramer (September 28, 1897 – November 26, 1990) was one of the world's leading Assyriologists, an expert in Sumerian history and Sumerian language. After high school, he attended Temple University, before Dropsie and Penn, both in ... provided a detailed and readable summary of the decipherment of Sumerian in his ''Sumerian Mythology''.
Friedrich Delitzsch published a learned Sumerian dictionary and grammar in the form of his ''Sumerisches Glossar'' and ''Grundzüge der sumerischen Grammatik'', both appearing in 1914. Delitzsch's student, Arno Poebel, published a grammar with the same title, ''Grundzüge der sumerischen Grammatik'', in 1923, and for 50 years it would be the standard for students studying Sumerian. Poebel's grammar was finally superseded in 1984 on the publication of ''The Sumerian Language: An Introduction to its History and Grammatical Structure'', by Marie-Louise Thomsen. While much of Thomsen's understanding of Sumerian grammar would later be rejected by most or all Sumerologists, Thomsen's grammar (often with express mention of the critiques put forward by Pascal Attinger in his 1993 ''Eléments de linguistique sumérienne: La construction de du11/e/di 'dire'') is the starting point of most recent academic discussions of Sumerian grammar.
More recent monograph-length grammars of Sumerian include Dietz-Otto Edzard's 2003 ''Sumerian Grammar'' and Bram Jagersma's 2010 ''A Descriptive Grammar of Sumerian'' (currently digital, but soon to be printed in revised form by Oxford University Press). Piotr Michalowski's essay (entitled, simply, "Sumerian") in the 2004 ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages'' has also been recognized as a good modern grammatical sketch.
There is relatively little consensus, even among reasonable Sumerologists, in comparison to the state of most modern or classical languages. Verbal morphology, in particular, is hotly disputed. In addition to the general grammars, there are many monographs and articles about particular areas of Sumerian grammar, without which a survey of the field could not be considered complete.
The primary institutional lexical effort in Sumerian is the Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary (PSD) is a project to compile a comprehensive dictionary of the Sumerian language. It is run out of the University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania (also known as Penn or UPenn) is a Priva ... project, begun in 1974. In 2004, the PSD was released on the Web as the ePSD. The project is currently supervised by Steve Tinney. It has not been updated online since 2006, but Tinney and colleagues are working on a new edition of the ePSD, a working draft of which is available online.
Assumed phonological or morphological forms will be between slashes //, with plain text used for the standard Assyriological transcription of Sumerian. Most of the following examples are unattested.
Modern knowledge of Sumerian phonology is flawed and incomplete because of the lack of speakers, the transmission through the filter of Akkadian phonology and the difficulties posed by the cuneiform script. As I. M. Diakonoff observes, "when we try to find out the morphophonological structure of the Sumerian language, we must constantly bear in mind that we are not dealing with a language directly but are reconstructing it from a very imperfect mnemonic writing system which had not been basically aimed at the rendering of morphophonemics".
Sumerian is conjectured to have at least the following consonants:
* a simple distribution of six
In phonetics, a plosive, also known as an occlusive or simply a stop, is a pulmonic consonant in which the vocal tract is blocked so that all airflow ceases.
The occlusion may be made with the tongue tip or blade (, ), tongue body (, ), l ...s, in three places of articulation distinguished by aspiration, though later stages may have featured voicing:
** p ( voiceless aspirated bilabial plosive),
** t ( voiceless aspirated alveolar plosive),
** k ( voiceless aspirated velar plosive),
*** As a rule, , and did not occur word-finally.
** b ( voiced unaspirated bilabial plosive),
** d ( voiced unaspirated alveolar plosive),
** g ( voiced unaspirated velar plosive).
* a phoneme usually represented by /ř/ (sometimes written ''dr'') that was probably a voiceless aspirated alveolar affricate. This phoneme later became or in northern and southern dialects, respectively.
* a simple distribution of three nasal consonants in similar distribution to the stops:
** m ( bilabial nasal
The voiced bilabial nasal is a type of consonantal sound used in almost all spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is , and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is m. The bilabial nasal occurs in ...),
** n ( alveolar nasal),
** g̃ (frequently printed ĝ due to typesetting constraints, increasingly transcribed as ŋ) (likely a velar nasal
The voiced velar nasal, also known as agma, from the Greek word for 'fragment', is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. It is the sound of ''ng'' in English ''sing'' as well as ''n'' before velar consonants as in ''Englis ..., as in ''sing'', it has also been argued to be a labiovelar nasal or a nasalized labiovelar [).
* a set of three ] sibilants
Sibilants are fricative consonants of higher amplitude and pitch, made by directing a stream of air with the tongue towards the teeth. Examples of sibilants are the consonants at the beginning of the English words ''sip'', ''zip'', ''ship'', an ...:
** s, likely a voiceless alveolar fricative
The voiceless alveolar fricatives are a type of fricative consonant pronounced with the tip or blade of the tongue against the alveolar ridge (gum line) just behind the teeth. This refers to a class of sounds, not a single sound. There are at leas ...,
** z, likely a voiceless unaspirated alveolar affricate, , as shown by Akkadian loans from = to Sumerian . In early Sumerian, this would have been the unaspirated counterpart to /ř/.
** š (generally described as a voiceless postalveolar fricative
A voiceless postalveolar fricative is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. The International Phonetic Association uses the term ''voiceless postalveolar fricative'' only for the sound , but it also describes the voiceless ..., , as in ''ship'')
* ḫ (a velar fricative, , sometimes written h)
* two liquid consonants:
** l (a lateral consonant)
** r (a rhotic consonant)
The existence of various other consonants has been hypothesized based on graphic alternations and loans, though none have found wide acceptance. For example, Diakonoff lists evidence for two l-sounds, two r-sounds, two h-sounds, and two g-sounds (excluding the velar nasal), and assumes a phonemic difference between consonants that are dropped word-finally (such as the ''g'' in zag > ''za3'') and consonants that remain (such as the ''g'' in ''lag''). Other "hidden" consonant phonemes that have been suggested include semivowels such as and , [ and a glottal fricative or a glottal stop that could explain the absence of vowel contraction in some words—though objections have been raised against that as well. A recent descriptive grammar by Bram Jagersma includes , , and as unwritten consonants, with the glottal stop even serving as the first-person pronominal prefix.
Very often, a word-final consonant was not expressed in writing—and was possibly omitted in pronunciation—so it surfaced only when followed by a vowel: for example the /k/ of the ] genitive case
In grammar, the genitive case (abbreviated ) is the grammatical case that marks a word, usually a noun, as modifying another word, also usually a noun—thus indicating an attributive relationship of one noun to the other noun. A genitive can ... ending ''-ak'' does not appear in ''e2 lugal-la'' "the king's house", but it becomes obvious in ''e2 lugal-la-kam'' "(it) is the king's house" (compare liaison
Liaison means communication between two or more groups, or co-operation or working together.
Liaison or liaisons may refer to:
* Affair, an unfaithful sexual relationship
Arts and entertainment
* L ... in French).
The vowels that are clearly distinguished by the cuneiform script are , , , and . Various researchers have posited the existence of more vowel phonemes such as and even and , which would have been concealed by the transmission through Akkadian, as that language does not distinguish them.
[ That would explain the seeming existence of numerous homophones in transliterated Sumerian, as well as some details of the phenomena mentioned in the next paragraph. These hypotheses are not yet generally accepted.] [
There is some evidence for ] vowel harmony
In phonology, vowel harmony is an assimilatory process in which the vowels of a given domain – typically a phonological word – have to be members of the same natural class (thus "in harmony"). Vowel harmony is typically long distance, m ... according to vowel height
A vowel is a syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, in loudness and also in quantity ( ... or advanced tongue root in the prefix i3/e- in inscriptions from pre- Sargonic Lagash, [Smith, Eric J M. 2007. ATR"Harmony and the Vowel Inventory of Sumerian". ''Journal of Cuneiform Studies'', volume 57] and perhaps even more than one vowel harmony rule. [Keetman, J. 2009.]
/nowiki>_vowel_harmony_in_Sumerian_and_some_remarks_about_the_need_of_transparent_data.html" ;"title="TR">The limits of