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Cuneiform question.

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  • jimw wagner
    The other day, I was looking at pl. 48 in the British Museum series part 40, omens concerning the surdu bird (falcon). When I looked up this word in the
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 31, 2007
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      The other day, I was looking at pl. 48 in the British Museum series part
      40, "omens concerning the surdu bird (falcon)."
      When I looked up this word in the Akkadian Dictionary at:

      http://www.premiumwanadoo.com/cuneiform.languages/dictionary/index_en.php

      It gave the name as surdu(MUŠEN), MUŠEN apparently being the
      determinative for at least some birds.

      The ePSD (http://psd.museum.upenn.edu/epsd/nepsd-frame.html) confirms this.

      However, the second part of the determinative, as it occurs in BMC4000,
      does not appear in any of the Neo-Assyrian lists I have, that is,
      Borger, Bauer, or Labat.

      This same sign occurs in several times in the cylinder of Sennacherib
      (BMC2600) with the value of 'ḫu'.

      Can anyone give me enlightenment on this? For instance, I haven't found
      any other bird-names that took the determinative though I haven't read
      more than a limited sample of cuneiform texts. Also, can anyone give me
      any notion of why the value of the sign should be so radically different
      between Sumerian and Neo-Assyrian. (Yes, I realize that one is a
      language-isolate and the other is Semitic. Is there any reason beyond that?

      I regret that I cannot show the signs as they appear in Neo-Assyrian, as
      I don't have a Neo-Assyrian font. However, the Sumerian version appears
      to be 𒄷.

      One of my main curiosities, I suppose, is that if a sign occurs as a
      part of a determinative, why is it not in the major sign-lists?

      If I'm asking the wrong questions, I'd appreciate being told that as well.

      Jim Wagner
    • Robert Whiting
      ... http://www.premiumwanadoo.com/cuneiform.languages/dictionary/index_en.php ... confirms this. This is quite correct. ... I do not understand what you are
      Message 2 of 5 , Aug 1, 2007
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        --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, jimw wagner <jpw@...> wrote:
        >
        > The other day, I was looking at pl. 48 in the British Museum series
        > part 40, "omens concerning the surdu bird (falcon)."
        > When I looked up this word in the Akkadian Dictionary at:
        >
        >
        http://www.premiumwanadoo.com/cuneiform.languages/dictionary/index_en.php
        >
        > It gave the name as surdu(MUÅ EN), MUÅ EN apparently being the
        > determinative for at least some birds.
        >
        > The ePSD (http://psd.museum.upenn.edu/epsd/nepsd-frame.html)
        confirms this.

        This is quite correct.

        > However, the second part of the determinative, as it occurs in BMC4000,
        > does not appear in any of the Neo-Assyrian lists I have, that is,
        > Borger, Bauer, or Labat.

        I do not understand what you are talking about. There is no "second
        part of the determinative". The determinative is a single sign, MUÅ EN,
        which represent the Sumerian word for 'bird'. The sign is also used
        logographically for the Akkadian word iṣṣūru 'bird'.

        > This same sign occurs in several times in the cylinder of
        Sennacherib (BMC2600) with the value of 'ḫu'.
        >
        > Can anyone give me enlightenment on this? For instance, I haven't found
        > any other bird-names that took the determinative though I haven't read
        > more than a limited sample of cuneiform texts. Also, can anyone give me
        > any notion of why the value of the sign should be so radically
        different
        > between Sumerian and Neo-Assyrian. (Yes, I realize that one is a
        > language-isolate and the other is Semitic. Is there any reason
        beyond that?

        Do you need a reason beyond that? But you are looking at the problem
        from the wrong end. The sign does not have different values in
        Sumerian and Akkadian. The sign has the same values in both. It
        simply depends on what the sign is being used for.

        I'm not sure that I can explain this to you because you really need to
        have some idea about how writing systems work and how they express
        language before you can grasp the concepts involved here.

        First, although Sumerian and Akkadian use essentially the same writing
        system, they use it in different ways. Sumerian writing is
        logo-syllabic (i.e., most content words are written logographically
        while most function words as well as bound morphemes [markers of
        person, number, gender, plurality, and case relationships] are written
        syllabically; foreign words and concepts that have no logogram are
        also often written syllabically); Akkadian writing is essentially
        syllabic (i.e., everything can be written syllabically, although
        logograms are frequently used as shortcuts to represent words or as
        determinatives for resolution of ambiguities resulting from the use of
        logograms representing different words).

        Second, cuneiform is both homophonic and polyphonic. That means that
        different signs can have the same value and that a single sign can
        have more than one value. When this sign means 'bird' a Sumerian
        would read it as mušen (but an Akkadian speaker would read it as
        iṣṣūru; we write is as MUŠEN in Akkadian context to show that it is
        being used logographically and is not to be read according to the
        value of the sign). But being polyvalent, the sign also has the value
        'ḫu'. It has this value in both Sumerian and Akkadian. This value is
        strictly syllabic (i.e., it has no meaning associated with it). The
        Sumerians had a term for such values, KA.KA-si-ga, the interpretation
        of which is obscure, but whose meaning is undisputed. KA.KA-si-ga
        refers to values of a sign that are syllabic only (i.e., there is no
        logographic meaning associated with the value). In Sumerian, 'ḫu' is
        found most often as an optative particle in verbal prefix chains
        (interestingly enough, the Sumerian sign KU₆ [meaning 'fish'] also has
        a KA.KA-si-ga value 'ḫa', which also appears primarily as an optative
        particle as well). In Akkadian 'ḫu' is simply used to write the
        syllable /ḫu/; it has no logographic use (as it does not in Sumerian).
        Similarly, MUÅ EN is used only logographically; it has no syllabic use
        (as it does not in Sumerian).

        > One of my main curiosities, I suppose, is that if a sign occurs as a
        > part of a determinative, why is it not in the major sign-lists?

        I still don't know what you mean by "part of a determinative". But
        one of the reasons why you won't find all Sumerian logographic reading
        for a sign in the modern sign lists is that they are geared toward
        Akkadian. If a Sumerian logographic value is not used in Akkadian
        (i.e., doesn't have an Akkadian equivalent) it is likely not to be in
        a modern Akkadian sign list. Since determinatives really don't have
        an equivalent in the language (being used as mnemonic-identifying
        devices), they are likely not to be represented. For that you have to
        go back to Deimel.

        > If I'm asking the wrong questions, I'd appreciate being told that as
        well.

        Consider yourself told (gently, I hope).


        Bob Whiting
        whiting@...
      • jimw wagner
        ... Sorry, your transcriptions do not come through. I see what my problem is here, then. the two signs (in Assyrian seeming to be gag-h(u) are actually read
        Message 3 of 5 , Aug 1, 2007
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          Robert Whiting wrote:
          > --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, jimw wagner <jpw@...> wrote:
          >
          >> The other day, I was looking at pl. 48 in the British Museum series
          >> part 40, "omens concerning the surdu bird (falcon)."
          >> When I looked up this word in the Akkadian Dictionary at:
          >>
          >>
          >>
          > http://www.premiumwanadoo.com/cuneiform.languages/dictionary/index_en.php
          >
          >> It gave the name as surdu(MUÅ EN), MUÅ EN apparently being the
          >> determinative for at least some birds.
          >>
          >> The ePSD (http://psd.museum.upenn.edu/epsd/nepsd-frame.html)
          >>
          > confirms this.
          >
          > This is quite correct.
          >
          >
          >> However, the second part of the determinative, as it occurs in BMC4000,
          >> does not appear in any of the Neo-Assyrian lists I have, that is,
          >> Borger, Bauer, or Labat.
          >>
          >
          > I do not understand what you are talking about. There is no "second
          > part of the determinative". The determinative is a single sign, MUÅ EN,
          > which represent the Sumerian word for 'bird'. The sign is also used
          > logographically for the Akkadian word iṣṣūru 'bird'.
          >
          Sorry, your transcriptions do not come through.

          I see what my problem is here, then. the two signs (in Assyrian seeming
          to be gag-h(u) are actually read as one sign, mus(en, as in the word
          read _weapon_, which appears to be two different signs.

          >
          >> This same sign occurs in several times in the cylinder of
          >>
          > Sennacherib (BMC2600) with the value of 'ḫu'.
          >
          >> Can anyone give me enlightenment on this? For instance, I haven't found
          >> any other bird-names that took the determinative though I haven't read
          >> more than a limited sample of cuneiform texts. Also, can anyone give me
          >> any notion of why the value of the sign should be so radically
          >>
          > different
          >
          >> between Sumerian and Neo-Assyrian. (Yes, I realize that one is a
          >> language-isolate and the other is Semitic. Is there any reason
          >>
          > beyond that?
          >
          > Do you need a reason beyond that? But you are looking at the problem
          > from the wrong end. The sign does not have different values in
          > Sumerian and Akkadian. The sign has the same values in both. It
          > simply depends on what the sign is being used for.
          >
          > I'm not sure that I can explain this to you because you really need to
          > have some idea about how writing systems work and how they express
          > language before you can grasp the concepts involved here.
          >
          > First, although Sumerian and Akkadian use essentially the same writing
          > system, they use it in different ways. Sumerian writing is
          > logo-syllabic (i.e., most content words are written logographically
          > while most function words as well as bound morphemes [markers of
          > person, number, gender, plurality, and case relationships] are written
          > syllabically; foreign words and concepts that have no logogram are
          > also often written syllabically); Akkadian writing is essentially
          > syllabic (i.e., everything can be written syllabically, although
          > logograms are frequently used as shortcuts to represent words or as
          > determinatives for resolution of ambiguities resulting from the use of
          > logograms representing different words).
          >
          > Second, cuneiform is both homophonic and polyphonic. That means that
          > different signs can have the same value and that a single sign can
          > have more than one value. When this sign means 'bird' a Sumerian
          > would read it as mušen (but an Akkadian speaker would read it as
          > iṣṣūru; we write is as MUŠEN in Akkadian context to show that it is
          > being used logographically and is not to be read according to the
          > value of the sign). But being polyvalent, the sign also has the value
          > 'ḫu'. It has this value in both Sumerian and Akkadian. This value is
          > strictly syllabic (i.e., it has no meaning associated with it). The
          > Sumerians had a term for such values, KA.KA-si-ga, the interpretation
          > of which is obscure, but whose meaning is undisputed. KA.KA-si-ga
          > refers to values of a sign that are syllabic only (i.e., there is no
          > logographic meaning associated with the value). In Sumerian, 'ḫu' is
          > found most often as an optative particle in verbal prefix chains
          > (interestingly enough, the Sumerian sign KUâ,+ [meaning 'fish'] also has
          > a KA.KA-si-ga value 'ḫa', which also appears primarily as an optative
          > particle as well). In Akkadian 'ḫu' is simply used to write the
          > syllable /ḫu/; it has no logographic use (as it does not in Sumerian).
          > Similarly, MUÅ EN is used only logographically; it has no syllabic use
          > (as it does not in Sumerian).
          >
          >
          >> One of my main curiosities, I suppose, is that if a sign occurs as a
          >> part of a determinative, why is it not in the major sign-lists?
          >>
          >
          > I still don't know what you mean by "part of a determinative". But
          > one of the reasons why you won't find all Sumerian logographic reading
          > for a sign in the modern sign lists is that they are geared toward
          > Akkadian. If a Sumerian logographic value is not used in Akkadian
          > (i.e., doesn't have an Akkadian equivalent) it is likely not to be in
          > a modern Akkadian sign list. Since determinatives really don't have
          > an equivalent in the language (being used as mnemonic-identifying
          > devices), they are likely not to be represented. For that you have to
          > go back to Deimel.
          >
          >
          >> If I'm asking the wrong questions, I'd appreciate being told that as
          >>
          > well.
          >
          > Consider yourself told (gently, I hope).
          >
          >
          Thanks. I suspect I learned much of this stuff back in my Cuneiform
          course near to forty years ago, but not having dealt with it until just
          recently, it's slipped out of my mind.

          Jim Wagner


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Robert M Whiting
          ... Neither did yours in my mail reader. That s why I went to the ANE-2 list s home page to reply to the message. It lets me both read and write unicode. If
          Message 4 of 5 , Aug 1, 2007
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            On Wed, 1 Aug 2007, jimw wagner wrote:

            > Robert Whiting wrote:
            > > --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, jimw wagner <jpw@...> wrote:
            > >
            > >> The other day, I was looking at pl. 48 in the British Museum series
            > >> part 40, "omens concerning the surdu bird (falcon)."
            > >> When I looked up this word in the Akkadian Dictionary at:
            > >>
            > > http://www.premiumwanadoo.com/cuneiform.languages/dictionary/index_en.php
            > >
            > >> It gave the name as surdu(MUÅ EN), MUÅ EN apparently being the
            > >> determinative for at least some birds.
            > >>
            > >> The ePSD (http://psd.museum.upenn.edu/epsd/nepsd-frame.html)
            > >> confirms this.
            > >
            > > This is quite correct.
            > >
            > >
            > >> However, the second part of the determinative, as it occurs in BMC4000,
            > >> does not appear in any of the Neo-Assyrian lists I have, that is,
            > >> Borger, Bauer, or Labat.
            > >>
            > >
            > > I do not understand what you are talking about. There is no "second
            > > part of the determinative". The determinative is a single sign, MUÅ EN,
            > > which represent the Sumerian word for 'bird'. The sign is also used
            > > logographically for the Akkadian word iṣṣūru 'bird'.
            > >
            > Sorry, your transcriptions do not come through.

            Neither did yours in my mail reader. That's why I went to the ANE-2
            list's home page to reply to the message. It lets me both read and write
            unicode. If you want to read the transcriptions, go to the ane message
            page and open the message. Make sure the character encoding in your
            browser is set to UTF-8. Learn to be the master of your software, not its
            slave.

            > I see what my problem is here, then. the two signs (in Assyrian seeming
            > to be gag-h(u) are actually read as one sign, mus(en, as in the word
            > read _weapon_, which appears to be two different signs.

            No, you don't see what your problem is yet. The sumerian word surdu is
            written syllabically with a determinative. This is one of those words for
            which there was no logogram and which had to be written syllabically.
            The gag sign that you see is actually read du3. The entire word is
            written with three signs: sur2-du3.MUÅ EN. The sur2 sign is DUL3 (the
            gunû of SAG) the; the MUÅ EN is the hu sign. The Akkadian is a loanword
            from the Sumerian, surdû. Go to the PSD page you referenced and type in
            surdu at the bottom of the page; all will be revealed.

            > >> This same sign occurs in several times in the cylinder of
            > >> Sennacherib (BMC2600) with the value of 'ḫu'.
            > >
            > >> Can anyone give me enlightenment on this? For instance, I haven't found
            > >> any other bird-names that took the determinative though I haven't read
            > >> more than a limited sample of cuneiform texts. Also, can anyone give me
            > >> any notion of why the value of the sign should be so radically
            > >> different
            > >
            > >> between Sumerian and Neo-Assyrian. (Yes, I realize that one is a
            > >> language-isolate and the other is Semitic. Is there any reason
            > >> beyond that?
            > >
            > > Do you need a reason beyond that? But you are looking at the problem
            > > from the wrong end. The sign does not have different values in
            > > Sumerian and Akkadian. The sign has the same values in both. It
            > > simply depends on what the sign is being used for.
            > >
            > > I'm not sure that I can explain this to you because you really need to
            > > have some idea about how writing systems work and how they express
            > > language before you can grasp the concepts involved here.
            > >
            > > First, although Sumerian and Akkadian use essentially the same writing
            > > system, they use it in different ways. Sumerian writing is
            > > logo-syllabic (i.e., most content words are written logographically
            > > while most function words as well as bound morphemes [markers of
            > > person, number, gender, plurality, and case relationships] are written
            > > syllabically; foreign words and concepts that have no logogram are
            > > also often written syllabically); Akkadian writing is essentially
            > > syllabic (i.e., everything can be written syllabically, although
            > > logograms are frequently used as shortcuts to represent words or as
            > > determinatives for resolution of ambiguities resulting from the use of
            > > logograms representing different words).
            > >
            > > Second, cuneiform is both homophonic and polyphonic. That means that
            > > different signs can have the same value and that a single sign can
            > > have more than one value. When this sign means 'bird' a Sumerian
            > > would read it as mušen (but an Akkadian speaker would read it as
            > > iṣṣūru; we write is as MUŠEN in Akkadian context to show that it is
            > > being used logographically and is not to be read according to the
            > > value of the sign). But being polyvalent, the sign also has the value
            > > 'ḫu'. It has this value in both Sumerian and Akkadian. This value is
            > > strictly syllabic (i.e., it has no meaning associated with it). The
            > > Sumerians had a term for such values, KA.KA-si-ga, the interpretation
            > > of which is obscure, but whose meaning is undisputed. KA.KA-si-ga
            > > refers to values of a sign that are syllabic only (i.e., there is no
            > > logographic meaning associated with the value). In Sumerian, 'ḫu' is
            > > found most often as an optative particle in verbal prefix chains
            > > (interestingly enough, the Sumerian sign KUâ,+ [meaning 'fish'] also has
            > > a KA.KA-si-ga value 'ḫa', which also appears primarily as an optative
            > > particle as well). In Akkadian 'ḫu' is simply used to write the
            > > syllable /ḫu/; it has no logographic use (as it does not in Sumerian).
            > > Similarly, MUÅ EN is used only logographically; it has no syllabic use
            > > (as it does not in Sumerian).
            > >
            > >
            > >> One of my main curiosities, I suppose, is that if a sign occurs as a
            > >> part of a determinative, why is it not in the major sign-lists?
            > >
            > > I still don't know what you mean by "part of a determinative". But
            > > one of the reasons why you won't find all Sumerian logographic reading
            > > for a sign in the modern sign lists is that they are geared toward
            > > Akkadian. If a Sumerian logographic value is not used in Akkadian
            > > (i.e., doesn't have an Akkadian equivalent) it is likely not to be in
            > > a modern Akkadian sign list. Since determinatives really don't have
            > > an equivalent in the language (being used as mnemonic-identifying
            > > devices), they are likely not to be represented. For that you have to
            > > go back to Deimel.
            > >
            > >
            > >> If I'm asking the wrong questions, I'd appreciate being told that as
            > >> well.
            > >
            > > Consider yourself told (gently, I hope).
            > >
            > >
            > Thanks. I suspect I learned much of this stuff back in my Cuneiform
            > course near to forty years ago, but not having dealt with it until just
            > recently, it's slipped out of my mind.

            Yes, if you don't take esoterica like this out once in a while and dust it
            off it tends to crumble when you try to pick it up.

            Bob Whiting
            whiting@...
          • Jim Wagner
            ... http://www.premiumwanadoo.com/cuneiform.languages/dictionary/index_en.php ... BMC4000, ... MU� EN, ... write ... not its ... At the risk of digging
            Message 5 of 5 , Aug 1, 2007
            • 0 Attachment
              --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, Robert M Whiting <whiting@...> wrote:
              >
              > On Wed, 1 Aug 2007, jimw wagner wrote:
              >
              > > Robert Whiting wrote:
              > > > --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, jimw wagner <jpw@> wrote:
              > > >
              > > >> The other day, I was looking at pl. 48 in the British Museum series
              > > >> part 40, "omens concerning the surdu bird (falcon)."
              > > >> When I looked up this word in the Akkadian Dictionary at:
              > > >>
              > > >
              http://www.premiumwanadoo.com/cuneiform.languages/dictionary/index_en.php
              > > >
              > > >> It gave the name as surdu(MU� EN), MU� EN apparently being the
              > > >> determinative for at least some birds.
              > > >>
              > > >> The ePSD (http://psd.museum.upenn.edu/epsd/nepsd-frame.html)
              > > >> confirms this.
              > > >
              > > > This is quite correct.
              > > >
              > > >
              > > >> However, the second part of the determinative, as it occurs in
              BMC4000,
              > > >> does not appear in any of the Neo-Assyrian lists I have, that is,
              > > >> Borger, Bauer, or Labat.
              > > >>
              > > >
              > > > I do not understand what you are talking about. There is no "second
              > > > part of the determinative". The determinative is a single sign,
              MU� EN,
              > > > which represent the Sumerian word for 'bird'. The sign is also used
              > > > logographically for the Akkadian word iṣṣūru 'bird'.
              > > >
              > > Sorry, your transcriptions do not come through.
              >

              > Neither did yours in my mail reader. That's why I went to the ANE-2
              > list's home page to reply to the message. It lets me both read and
              write
              > unicode. If you want to read the transcriptions, go to the ane message
              > page and open the message. Make sure the character encoding in your
              > browser is set to UTF-8. Learn to be the master of your software,
              not its
              > slave.

              At the risk of digging myself in deeper, one of the reasons I switched
              to Ubuntu Linux was that it handles Unicode natively. On the other
              hand, I guess that what I put in e-mail software does not necessarily
              make it through to the other end. Thanks for the tip about going to
              the ANE page.

              The Sumerian sign I was trying to write was ð'„·.
              >
              > Thanks. I suspect I learned much of this stuff back in my Cuneiform
              > > course near to forty years ago, but not having dealt with it until
              just
              > > recently, it's slipped out of my mind.
              >
              > Yes, if you don't take esoterica like this out once in a while and
              dust it
              > off it tends to crumble when you try to pick it up.
              >

              Yes. I'd spent the last fifteen years working with Syriac,
              translating some of the historical chronicles.

              Moved back to cuneiform just recently when I saw the abundance of
              material available on the net.

              I've been using the _Annals of the Assyrian Kings_, where I can check
              my transcriptions. I'm trying to be careful about what I learn there,
              since I know that they were done over a hundred years ago, and such
              things as how the determinatives were handled have changed radically.

              I'm on a very limited budget, but I hope to be able to afford Borgers
              Babylonische-Assyrische Lesestucke_ at the end of the summer. I very
              foolishly lent my previous copy to a friend, while I was working at
              Syriac and didn't think I'd be using it again.

              This is a long and roundabout way of saying that I depend on
              Interlibrary Loan and free items on the Internet for my material. This
              means that while I appreciate any suggestions you might give me
              regarding source material and textbooks, I hope you won't be offended
              because I don't purchase them.

              I appreciate your help.

              Jim Wagner
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