Sumerian Grammar

Sumerian Grammar

Sumerian Grammar

Sumerian Grammar


It seems safe to say that this Sumerian Grammar by Professor D. O. Edzard will become the new classic reference in the field. It is an up-to-date, reliable guide to the language of the Sumerians, the inventors of cuneiform writing in the late 4th millennium B. C., and thus essential contributors to the high cultural standard of the whole of Mesopotamia and beyond. Following traditional lines, the Grammar describes general characteristics, origins, linguistic environment, phonetics and phonology, morphology, syntax, and phraseology. Due attention is given to the symbiosis with Semitic Akkadian, with which Sumerian was to form a veritable linguistic area. With lucid explanations of all technical linguistic theory. Each transliteration carries its English translation.


The present Sumerian Grammar with which the Publisher Brill kindly entrusted the author is essentially based on introductory classes of Sumerian offered at the Institut für Assyriologie und Hethitologie of Munich University over the last twenty years, as well as on a two semester course on “Geschichte der sumerischen Sprache” (winter 1996/97 and summer 1997). Part of the “History” was also pre- sented in lectures at the University of London and at Oxford University between October 15 and November 5, 1998. While offering my own personal ideas—some of which will no doubt be considered highly subjective—I have tried to discuss, or at least quote, differing opin- ions as often as possible.

In order to avoid footnotes, the main text has been interspersed with numerous “notes” where secondary comments and explanations are to be found.

As a non-English speaker, I was in need of someone to correct my grammar, style, spelling, and punctuation. Nicholas Postgate of Trinity College, Cambridge University, proved to be the ideal adviser, himself not unfamiliar with the problems of Sumerian grammar. He not only offered innumerable corrections but quite often also guid- ance, by pointing out that an argument was unclear, that a descrip- tion was lacking evidence, or even that some paragraph was misplaced. These corrections were made partly by mail and to a considerable degree during a three day stay by the author at Trinity College and at the home of the Postgates. For all this, my most sincere gratitude is due to Nicholas.

The author gratefully acknowledges that he made frequent use of Steve Tinney's lexical “Index to the Secondary Literature. A col- lated list of indexes and glossaries to the secondary literature con- cerning the Sumerian Language” (Philadelphia 1993 ff.).

The Publishing House Brill and their Editors, Mevr. Tanja Cowall and Mevr. Patricia Radder, have been extremely patient with the author's self-indulgent interpretation of the deadline originally set for the publication of the book. They are, therefore, entitled to my heart- felt gratitude.

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