By Bram Jagersma
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Extra resources for A descriptive grammar of Sumerian
The latter two terms are preferred here because they refer unambiguously to the function of writing sounds, whereas the terms ‘syllabic’ and ‘syllabogram’ suggest a function of writing syllables, a function that does not really apply. Note that the term ‘phonogram’ is common in Egyptology (Gardiner 1957: §6). 2 In Sumerological transliterations the accents and numerical subscripts distinguish between signs: du is a value of the sign DU, dú (‘du two’) one of the sign TU, and dù (‘du three’) one of the sign GAG, and so on, but from four upwards, values are indicated with numerical subscripts instead of accents.
On the available evidence we can identify two main dialects during the second half of the third millennium BCE. In this grammar we will call them Northern and Southern Sumerian, following an old tradition to call the downstream area closer to the Arabian Gulf ‘South’ and the upstream area ‘North’. Strictly looking at the compass, we could just as easily call them Western and Eastern Sumerian. The relationship between these two main dialects changes across time and so do the linguistic properties in which they differ.
Xvii). there’ for ĝál. Where one morpheme can have two alternative functions, a forward slash is used to separate them. S/DO’ indicates that the zero-morpheme expresses either a third person non-human subject or a third person non-human direct object. To save space, perfective verbal forms are never explicitly glossed as such, while imperfectives always are. Accordingly, the verbal form in the example above is perfective. The references to sources are generally followed by an indication of provenance: A (Adab), D (Drehem), I (Isin), L (Lagash), N (Nippur), U (Umma), Ur (Ur), and ?