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Old 2020-03-15, 13:18   #1
xilman
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Default 𒅴𒂠 𒌵𒆠 (Sumerian & Akkadian)

A thread to home everything pertaining to the languages and scripts used in ancient Mesopotamia. In principle Old Persian could live here too.

To put things in perspective, Sumerian was as dead or living a language at the date of the founding of Rome as Latin is today. That is, widely read and written by the intelligencia but it hadn't been spoken as a first language for well over a thousand years.

A quick rummage at DuckDuckGo turned up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrsIW0akb6o which convinced me that it shouldn't be too difficult to learn the language. A dozen or so other videos are available in the same series.

I remembered Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash was based heavily on the idea that Sumerian was the pre-Babel universal language. Sure enough on page 111 appears the string a ma la gen ba dam gal nun ka aria su su nu na an da

Two weeks' study is nowhere near long enough to be able to translate it properly, if indeed it is Sumerian, but even so I recognize /gal/ ������
as the adjective "great", /an/ ������"heaven, sky, god" and /nu/ ������as the negating element generally translated as "not". An hour or so with a dictionary turned up words which mean "ship" and "people" (the latter is /su su/, where /su/ ������ means "person" and plurals are generally formed by duplicating the noun). All very much true to the context of the narrative which suggests to me that Stephenson was paying attention to an Assyrologist.

Last fiddled with by xilman on 2020-06-28 at 15:26 Reason: Add context for new thread structures.
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Old 2020-03-15, 13:35   #2
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Originally Posted by xilman View Post
A couple of weeks ago I decided that it really was time to start learning Sumerian.

To put things in perspective, Sumerian was as dead or living a language at the date of the founding of Rome as Latin is today. That is, widely read and written by the intelligencia but it hadn't been spoken as a first language for well over a thousand years.

A quick rummage at DuckDuckGo turned up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrsIW0akb6o which convinced me that it shouldn't be too difficult. A dozen or so other videos are available in the same series.

Yesterday I remembered Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash was based heavily on the idea that Sumerian was the pre-Babel universal language. Sure enough on page 111 appears the string a ma la gen ba dam gal nun ka aria su su nu na an da

Two weeks' study is nowhere near long enough to be able to translate it properly, if indeed it is Sumerian, but even so I recognize /gal/ ������
as the adjective "great", /an/ ������"heaven, sky, god" and /nu/ ������as the negating element generally translated as "not". An hour or so with a dictionary turned up words which mean "ship" and "people" (the latter is /su su/, where /su/ ������ means "person" and plurals are generally formed by duplicating the noun). All very much true to the context of the narrative which suggests to me that Stephenson was paying attention to an Assyrologist.
Hmm, it looks like the cuneiform doesn't display properly despite my having the fonts installed. Perhaps a reboot is called for; the fonts were installed since the last reboot.

/gal/ is Unicode code point 120F2, /an/ is 1202D, /nu/ is 12261 and /su/ is 122E3 if you want to take a look with the aid of a character map application.
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Old 2020-03-15, 13:39   #3
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Quote:
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A couple of weeks ago I decided that it really was time to start learning Sumerian.
We have a course here:
https://studiegids.universiteitleide...literary-texts
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Old 2020-03-15, 16:25   #4
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Thanks. I will check it out.

Are you tempted?
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Old 2020-03-15, 16:37   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xilman View Post
A couple of weeks ago I decided that it really was time to start learning Sumerian.
<snip>
Yesterday I remembered Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash was based heavily on the idea that Sumerian was the pre-Babel universal language.
<snip>
A quick rummage at DuckDuckGo turned up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrsIW0akb6o which convinced me that it shouldn't be too difficult. A dozen or so other videos are available in the same series.
<snip>
All very much true to the context of the narrative which suggests to me that Stephenson was paying attention to an Assyrologist.
I found the following passage in Snow Crash. Hiro is conferring with the Librarian.

Quote:
"Okay. Does anyone understand Sumerian?"

"Yes, at any given time, it appears that there are roughly ten people in the world who can read it."

Last fiddled with by Dr Sardonicus on 2020-03-15 at 16:41 Reason: Insert another part of quoted post
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Old 2020-03-15, 17:29   #6
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Are you tempted?
I haven't got time right now, but I have often wondered to what extent their depictions of
musical instruments are technically accurate and whether you can deduce from them
how Sumerian music must have sounded.
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Old 2020-03-15, 17:30   #7
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Quote:
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I found the following passage in Snow Crash. Hiro is conferring with the Librarian.
Yeah, I spotted that passage.

Seems to me that it is a gross underestimate. From what little I have already learned the estimate is at least a factor of ten too low.
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Old 2020-06-22, 19:49   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xilman View Post
Yeah, I spotted that passage.

Seems to me that it is a gross underestimate. From what little I have already learned the estimate is at least a factor of ten too low.
a factor of 10 - Additive, multiplicative, logarithmic, what? And which factor of 10, 2 or 5?

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It may be premature to suggest that all this material be moved to a sub-forum of Hobbies and threads devoted to Latin, Middle Egyptian, Sumerian and Akkadian be created within it. (Sadly, my knowledge of Ancient Greek, Hittite and Sanskrit is non-existent. Perhaps in a year or two ...)

If created, we could not only encourage others to learn to read the languages we could discuss mathematics as well. The basics of number theory and geometry were established by people who wrote in those languages. Special cases of theorems of Πυθαγόρας and Εὐκλείδης were well known to Egyptians and Babylonians. Babylonian tablets from 2000 BCE give an algorithm for solving quadratic equations.
My webpage on the history and various useful applications of what is these days commonly known as the Newton-Raphson iterative-approximation method notes this re. the ancient Babylonians:
Quote:
The iterative scheme [Sqrt2] whereby one takes an initial guess at the square root of c, divides c by the guess and then takes the arithmetic average of the current guess x and c/x to obtain an improved approximation is also interesting due to its long historical pedigree. Amazingly, this very same method for successively approximating square roots was known to and used by the ancient Babylonians, who themselves did not possess an algorithm for long division (much like the lack of a direct division capability by early compute hardware of that other ancient period, the 1940s through 1980s), again necessitating use of approximation algorithms to compute the needed inverse 1/x. In the case of the Babylonians, they used − ta da! − lookup tables for the needed reciprocals. Thus, this particular implementation of a quadratically convergent square-root-finding method likely predates the more general Newton-Raphson method by over 3000 years.
Getting back to the Latin, I came across a useful phrase recently in the context of one of the Sopabox threads: "Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi." I believe Orwell's version of the concept was "some animals are more equal than others." Paul, help me out - is the c in 'licet' pronounced like the one in 'license' or like the ch in linchpin'? And the pronunciation is the same as in 'vici'? (E.g. J. Caeser's famous 'veni, vidi, vici'.)
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Old 2020-06-22, 19:54   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xilman View Post
Yesterday I remembered Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash was based heavily on the idea that Sumerian was the pre-Babel universal language.

Snow Crash is a great book. I'ld like to recommend Diamond Age as well. Cryptonomicon and following parts need no mention I suppose...


Another nice piece I read around the same time as Snow Crash was William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition". I really liked the idea that somebody has to puke when he/she hears the name of a certain brand xD

Last fiddled with by Till on 2020-06-22 at 19:55
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Old 2020-09-24, 18:00   #10
xilman
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Not sure whether politics is allowed here or whether this should be posted in the Soapbox. Doubtless a supermod will move it if it is deemed off-topic.

Anyway, 𒉺 𒄣 𒁺 𒌑 𒇷 𒅖 𒋫 𒀠 𒉿 𒌅 𒌑
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Old 2020-09-24, 20:36   #11
kruoli
 
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Would you mind sharing a translation of that, at least in hidden text, please?

Last fiddled with by kruoli on 2020-09-24 at 20:36 Reason: Interpunctation. Eskimo Callboy.
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