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World's oldest joke

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  • sbudin@camden.rutgers.edu
    S.N. Kramer would be so proud! -Stephanie Budin Reuters / Yahoo 7/31/08: World s oldest joke traced back to 1900 BC The world s oldest recorded joke has
    Message 1 of 19 , Jul 31 11:29 AM
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      S.N. Kramer would be so proud! -Stephanie Budin


      Reuters / Yahoo 7/31/08:

      "World's oldest joke traced back to 1900 BC"

      "The world's oldest recorded joke has been traced back to 1900 BC and
      suggests that toilet humor was as popular with the ancients as it is today.

      It is a saying of the Sumerians, who lived in what is now southern Iraq and
      goes: 'Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young
      woman did not fart in her husband's lap.'

      It heads the world's oldest top 10 joke list published by the University of
      Wolverhampton on Thursday."

      http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080731/lf_nm_life/britain_joke_dc
    • John Wall
      It s often said that some of my jokes are so old that they were originally written on clay tablets.... All the best, John Wall Omni oratio nil labor From:
      Message 2 of 19 , Aug 5, 2008
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        It's often said that some of my jokes are so old that they were originally
        written on clay tablets....

        All the best,

        John Wall
        Omni oratio nil labor


        From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
        sbudin@... S.N. Kramer would be so proud! -Stephanie
        Budin


        Reuters / Yahoo 7/31/08:

        "World's oldest joke traced back to 1900 BC"

        "The world's oldest recorded joke has been traced back to 1900 BC and
        suggests that toilet humor was as popular with the ancients as it is today.

        It is a saying of the Sumerians, who lived in what is now southern Iraq and
        goes: 'Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young
        woman did not fart in her husband's lap.'

        It heads the world's oldest top 10 joke list published by the University of
        Wolverhampton on Thursday."

        http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080731/lf_nm_life/britain_joke_dc
      • Brian Colless
        ... S.N. Kramer would be so proud! -Stephanie Budin. I have been following the release of this hoary old crack ,and I still don t get it. (I was a Latin
        Message 3 of 19 , Aug 7, 2008
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          > 'Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young
          > woman did not fart in her husband's lap.'

          S.N. Kramer would be so proud! -Stephanie Budin.

          I have been following the release of this hoary old 'crack',and I
          still don't get it.
          (I was a Latin teacher once, but the sense of 'Omni oratio nil labor'
          eludes me, too.)

          It so happens that when I was young and working on the education
          concept in the ANE, I studied all the Wisdom literature of the
          Egyptians and the Mesopotamians, and related it to the Bible, for my
          MArts thesis on Yahweh Hammoreh: the divine educator figure in the
          Bible.
          One of my many articles on the subject (in Numen, 1970, Chicago) is on
          JSTOR, and overpriced.

          http://www.jstor.org/pss/3269690

          I was very excited reading S.N.Kramer's publications, and I actually
          saw him, in gentle confrontation with W. Lambert (I had devoured my
          copy of his Babylonian Wisdom Literature) in Paris at an Orientalist
          congress (WL was chided by Samuel Noah K for emending an Akkadian
          text; 'the scribe got it wrong' is only a last resort). I also met
          J.J.A. van Dijk (La sagesse suméro-accadienne. 1953) in his white
          robe, at the Chinese in SEAsia section; I was giving papers in the
          Syriac literature and Indonesian history sections; so I was not the
          only dilettante there.

          Edmund I. Gordon had published a lengthy review article on van Dijk's
          book, as A new look at the wisdom of Sumer and Akkad (Bibliotheca
          Orientalis, 1960, 122-152) which catalogued all the genres. I bought
          that issue and still have it, with all the headings and main points
          neatly underlined by pencil, in red and black.

          I also have Gordon's Sumerian Proverbs (1959), and I remembered this
          newly quoted 'quip' vaguely, so I hunted for it, starting with the
          'cultural analysis' at the back. 'Sexual activity' (316) did not have
          this one (not in this form, anyway).

          Here it is (1.12, p.47):
          níg-u4-bi-ta -- la-ba-gál-la
          ki-sikil-TUR úr-dam-na-ka TU$ nu-ub-dúr-re

          "It is a thing which is unprecedented {which in the past ['from those
          days'] did not exist}:
          a young girl will not sit (?) in her husband's lap."

          Gordon suggested it might refer to child-marriage, and he cites
          proverb 2.81: "I will not marry a wife who is only three years (old)
          as an ass (does)".

          He notes that ki-sikil-TUR = batûltum 'virgin', usually.

          The compound verb TU$ -- dúr is [was?] known only in this text.

          Gordon's glossary has for TU$: anus (bìd); buttocks (dúr); dung
          ($e10); sit, dwell,(etc)

          I have just searched for it in René Labat's Manuel, and found
          eventually sign 254:
          DÚR, TU$ a$âbu (être assis; habiter).

          I will presume that the divided rectangle or square represents a
          'bottom'.

          Who discovered that here it refers to wind coming through that crack?

          Brian Colless
          Research Assistant, Massey University
          (A list of my publications is @:
          http://collesseum.googlepages.com



          On 6/08/2008, at 10:36 AM, John Wall wrote:

          > It's often said that some of my jokes are so old that they were
          > originally
          > written on clay tablets....
          >
          > All the best,
          >
          > John Wall
          > Omni oratio nil labor
          >
          > From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
          > Of
          > sbudin@... S.N. Kramer would be so proud! -Stephanie
          > Budin
          >
          > Reuters / Yahoo 7/31/08:
          >
          > "World's oldest joke traced back to 1900 BC"
          >
          > "The world's oldest recorded joke has been traced back to 1900 BC and
          > suggests that toilet humor was as popular with the ancients as it is
          > today.
          >
          > It is a saying of the Sumerians, who lived in what is now southern
          > Iraq and
          > goes: 'Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a
          > young
          > woman did not fart in her husband's lap.'
          >
          > It heads the world's oldest top 10 joke list published by the
          > University of
          > Wolverhampton on Thursday."
          >
          > http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080731/lf_nm_life/britain_joke_dc
          >
          >
          >



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • victor
          This “joke” or whatever it is, is now available in B. Alster, Proverbs of Ancient Sumer in Collection 1 no. 1.12. Unfortunately, although there is full
          Message 4 of 19 , Aug 7, 2008
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            This “joke” or whatever it is, is now available in B. Alster, Proverbs of
            Ancient Sumer in Collection 1 no. 1.12. Unfortunately, although there is
            full textual apparatus with Sumerian and Akkadian attestations, the
            commentary in volume 2 says not a word about it. I guess Alster thinks that
            if a joke needs to be explained it is not funny. He translates it “Something
            which has never occurred since time immemorial: Didn’t the young girl fart
            in her husband’s lap?”.

            Victor Hurowitz

            BGU



            _____

            From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
            Brian Colless
            Sent: Thursday, August 07, 2008 3:05 PM
            To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [ANE-2] Re: World's oldest joke (Sumerian proverb 1.12)



            > 'Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young
            > woman did not fart in her husband's lap.'

            S.N. Kramer would be so proud! -Stephanie Budin.

            I have been following the release of this hoary old 'crack',and I
            still don't get it.
            (I was a Latin teacher once, but the sense of 'Omni oratio nil labor'
            eludes me, too.)

            It so happens that when I was young and working on the education
            concept in the ANE, I studied all the Wisdom literature of the
            Egyptians and the Mesopotamians, and related it to the Bible, for my
            MArts thesis on Yahweh Hammoreh: the divine educator figure in the
            Bible.
            One of my many articles on the subject (in Numen, 1970, Chicago) is on
            JSTOR, and overpriced.

            http://www.jstor. <http://www.jstor.org/pss/3269690> org/pss/3269690

            I was very excited reading S.N.Kramer's publications, and I actually
            saw him, in gentle confrontation with W. Lambert (I had devoured my
            copy of his Babylonian Wisdom Literature) in Paris at an Orientalist
            congress (WL was chided by Samuel Noah K for emending an Akkadian
            text; 'the scribe got it wrong' is only a last resort). I also met
            J.J.A. van Dijk (La sagesse suméro-accadienne. 1953) in his white
            robe, at the Chinese in SEAsia section; I was giving papers in the
            Syriac literature and Indonesian history sections; so I was not the
            only dilettante there.

            Edmund I. Gordon had published a lengthy review article on van Dijk's
            book, as A new look at the wisdom of Sumer and Akkad (Bibliotheca
            Orientalis, 1960, 122-152) which catalogued all the genres. I bought
            that issue and still have it, with all the headings and main points
            neatly underlined by pencil, in red and black.

            I also have Gordon's Sumerian Proverbs (1959), and I remembered this
            newly quoted 'quip' vaguely, so I hunted for it, starting with the
            'cultural analysis' at the back. 'Sexual activity' (316) did not have
            this one (not in this form, anyway).

            Here it is (1.12, p.47):
            níg-u4-bi-ta -- la-ba-gál-la
            ki-sikil-TUR úr-dam-na-ka TU$ nu-ub-dúr-re

            "It is a thing which is unprecedented {which in the past ['from those
            days'] did not exist}:
            a young girl will not sit (?) in her husband's lap."

            Gordon suggested it might refer to child-marriage, and he cites
            proverb 2.81: "I will not marry a wife who is only three years (old)
            as an ass (does)".

            He notes that ki-sikil-TUR = batûltum 'virgin', usually.

            The compound verb TU$ -- dúr is [was?] known only in this text.

            Gordon's glossary has for TU$: anus (bìd); buttocks (dúr); dung
            ($e10); sit, dwell,(etc)

            I have just searched for it in René Labat's Manuel, and found
            eventually sign 254:
            DÚR, TU$ a$âbu (être assis; habiter).

            I will presume that the divided rectangle or square represents a
            'bottom'.

            Who discovered that here it refers to wind coming through that crack?

            Brian Colless
            Research Assistant, Massey University
            (A list of my publications is @:
            http://collesseum. <http://collesseum.googlepages.com> googlepages.com

            On 6/08/2008, at 10:36 AM, John Wall wrote:

            > It's often said that some of my jokes are so old that they were
            > originally
            > written on clay tablets....
            >
            > All the best,
            >
            > John Wall
            > Omni oratio nil labor
            >
            > From: ANE-2@yahoogroups. <mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com> com
            [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups. <mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com> com] On Behalf
            > Of
            > sbudin@camden. <mailto:sbudin%40camden.rutgers.edu> rutgers.edu S.N.
            Kramer would be so proud! -Stephanie
            > Budin
            >
            > Reuters / Yahoo 7/31/08:
            >
            > "World's oldest joke traced back to 1900 BC"
            >
            > "The world's oldest recorded joke has been traced back to 1900 BC and
            > suggests that toilet humor was as popular with the ancients as it is
            > today.
            >
            > It is a saying of the Sumerians, who lived in what is now southern
            > Iraq and
            > goes: 'Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a
            > young
            > woman did not fart in her husband's lap.'
            >
            > It heads the world's oldest top 10 joke list published by the
            > University of
            > Wolverhampton on Thursday."
            >
            > http://news.
            <http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080731/lf_nm_life/britain_joke_dc>
            yahoo.com/s/nm/20080731/lf_nm_life/britain_joke_dc
            >
            >
            >

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Jim West
            Brian Colless wrote: (I was a Latin teacher once, but the sense of Omni oratio nil labor eludes me, too.) If I may- all talk, no action it s kind of funny
            Message 5 of 19 , Aug 7, 2008
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              Brian Colless wrote:

              (I was a Latin teacher once, but the sense of 'Omni oratio nil labor'
              eludes me, too.)


              If I may-

              'all talk, no action'

              it's kind of funny for a signature.

              ++++++

              Jim West, ThD

              http://jwest.wordpress.com -- Blog
              http://sites.google.com/site/biblicalstudiesresources/ - Biblical Studies Resources
            • Marc Cooper
              Brian, the Sumerian text in question is a bilingual. The Akkadian version uses the verb á¹£aratu, to fart. That seems to be pretty good justification for
              Message 6 of 19 , Aug 7, 2008
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                Brian, the Sumerian text in question is a bilingual. The Akkadian
                version uses the verb á¹£aratu, to fart. That seems to be pretty good
                justification for the translation. More interesting is whether this is
                a joke or proverb. Our culture bound media will take any reference to
                bodily functions as funny, but maybe the saying just means that nothing
                is flawless?

                Marc Cooper

                Missouri State University


                --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, Brian Colless <briancolless@...> wrote:


                [SNIP]

                > I also have Gordon's Sumerian Proverbs (1959), and I remembered this
                > newly quoted 'quip' vaguely, so I hunted for it, starting with the
                > 'cultural analysis' at the back. 'Sexual activity' (316) did not have
                > this one (not in this form, anyway).
                >
                > Here it is (1.12, p.47):
                > níg-u4-bi-ta -- la-ba-gál-la
                > ki-sikil-TUR úr-dam-na-ka TU$ nu-ub-dúr-re
                >
                > "It is a thing which is unprecedented {which in the past ['from those
                > days'] did not exist}:
                > a young girl will not sit (?) in her husband's lap."
                >
                > Gordon suggested it might refer to child-marriage, and he cites
                > proverb 2.81: "I will not marry a wife who is only three years (old)
                > as an ass (does)".
                >
                > He notes that ki-sikil-TUR = batûltum 'virgin', usually.
                >
                > The compound verb TU$ -- dúr is [was?] known only in this text.
                >
                > Gordon's glossary has for TU$: anus (bìd); buttocks (dúr); dung
                > ($e10); sit, dwell,(etc)
                >
                > I have just searched for it in René Labat's Manuel, and found
                > eventually sign 254:
                > DÚR, TU$ a$âbu (être assis; habiter).
                >
                > I will presume that the divided rectangle or square represents a
                > 'bottom'.
                >
                > Who discovered that here it refers to wind coming through that crack?
                >
                > Brian Colless
                > Research Assistant, Massey University
                > (A list of my publications is @:
                > http://collesseum.googlepages.com
                >




                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Clark Whelton
                ... This joke or whatever it is, is now available in B. Alster, Proverbs of Ancient Sumer in Collection 1 no. 1.12. Unfortunately, although there is full
                Message 7 of 19 , Aug 7, 2008
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                  >>>>> Victor Hurowitz wrote...
                  This "joke" or whatever it is, is now available in B. Alster, Proverbs of
                  Ancient Sumer in Collection 1 no. 1.12. Unfortunately, although there is
                  full textual apparatus with Sumerian and Akkadian attestations, the
                  commentary in volume 2 says not a word about it. I guess Alster thinks that
                  if a joke needs to be explained it is not funny. He translates it "Something
                  which has never occurred since time immemorial: Didn't the young girl fart
                  in her husband's lap?".



                  I used to write jokes professionally, and quickly discovered (1) that humor
                  an unfunny way to earn a living, and (2) jokes are extremely fragile.
                  Recently I related several jokes I heard long ago to several young adults in
                  New York City. They did not laugh. In one case they had no idea what a
                  "second story man" is (a burglar who enters a home via an upstairs window).
                  Nor did they know that "putting on the dog" means (or used to mean) an
                  ostentatious display of wealth or expensive clothing. Both expressions
                  would have been understood by grammar school students in mid-20th century
                  America, but are apparently unknown to younger speakers of American English
                  today. Given the short shelf life of jokes, what chance do we have of
                  "getting" wisecracks that are 3,500 years old? Stories about young girls
                  and laps in Sumer almost certainly depend for their humor on word play, puns
                  and slang terms that are unknown to us.

                  btw, could modern jokesmiths make Sumerians laugh? If I may...

                  Sumerian restaurant customer to waiter: "I can tell your chef is generous
                  with his land."

                  Waiter: "Why do you say that?"

                  Customer: "Because there is sand in my soup."


                  Clark Whelton
                  New York

                  PS


                  I found the following in my files... not sure if it's a genuine news item.


                  "While attempting the enormous project of constructing a dictionary of
                  ancient Sumerian, scholars at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia
                  found that some of the phrases they encountered on ancient tablets remained
                  semantically difficult no matter how they tried to interpret them. After
                  weeks of work one example stubbornly refused to mean anything other than:
                  'He put a hot fish in her navel.' - Sunday Times
                • victor avigdor hurowitz
                  There is nothing contradictory between being a joke and a proverbs, as we can see from certain humoristic proverbs in the Book of Proverbs. In general, I think
                  Message 8 of 19 , Aug 7, 2008
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                    There is nothing contradictory between being a joke and a proverbs, as we
                    can see from certain humoristic proverbs in the Book of Proverbs. In
                    general, I think Niek Viedhaus has suggested that the so-called
                    Sumerian Proverb collections are not "proverbs" at all but very
                    ecclectic collections of short linguistic collocations learned by scribes
                    as part of their education for use as necessary in writing compositions of
                    all sorts.
                    Victor Hurowitz
                    BGU



                    On Thu, 7 Aug 2008, Marc Cooper wrote:

                    >
                    > Brian, the Sumerian text in question is a bilingual. The Akkadian
                    > version uses the verb á¹£aratu, to fart. That seems to be pretty good
                    > justification for the translation. More interesting is whether this is
                    > a joke or proverb. Our culture bound media will take any reference to
                    > bodily functions as funny, but maybe the saying just means that nothing
                    > is flawless?
                    >
                    > Marc Cooper
                    >
                    > Missouri State University
                    >
                    >
                    > --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, Brian Colless <briancolless@...> wrote:
                    >
                    >
                    > [SNIP]
                    >
                    > > I also have Gordon's Sumerian Proverbs (1959), and I remembered this
                    > > newly quoted 'quip' vaguely, so I hunted for it, starting with the
                    > > 'cultural analysis' at the back. 'Sexual activity' (316) did not have
                    > > this one (not in this form, anyway).
                    > >
                    > > Here it is (1.12, p.47):
                    > > níg-u4-bi-ta -- la-ba-gál-la
                    > > ki-sikil-TUR úr-dam-na-ka TU$ nu-ub-dúr-re
                    > >
                    > > "It is a thing which is unprecedented {which in the past ['from those
                    > > days'] did not exist}:
                    > > a young girl will not sit (?) in her husband's lap."
                    > >
                    > > Gordon suggested it might refer to child-marriage, and he cites
                    > > proverb 2.81: "I will not marry a wife who is only three years (old)
                    > > as an ass (does)".
                    > >
                    > > He notes that ki-sikil-TUR = batûltum 'virgin', usually.
                    > >
                    > > The compound verb TU$ -- dúr is [was?] known only in this text.
                    > >
                    > > Gordon's glossary has for TU$: anus (bìd); buttocks (dúr); dung
                    > > ($e10); sit, dwell,(etc)
                    > >
                    > > I have just searched for it in René Labat's Manuel, and found
                    > > eventually sign 254:
                    > > DÚR, TU$ a$âbu (être assis; habiter).
                    > >
                    > > I will presume that the divided rectangle or square represents a
                    > > 'bottom'.
                    > >
                    > > Who discovered that here it refers to wind coming through that crack?
                    > >
                    > > Brian Colless
                    > > Research Assistant, Massey University
                    > > (A list of my publications is @:
                    > > http://collesseum.googlepages.com
                    > >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >
                    >
                  • Marc Cooper
                    I wasn t trying to get at the Babylonian literary genre or the value of the proverb collections to scribal educators. My concern is that the presence of the
                    Message 9 of 19 , Aug 7, 2008
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                      I wasn't trying to get at the Babylonian literary genre or the value of
                      the proverb collections to scribal educators. My concern is that the
                      presence of the verb "to fart" in the text signals to the media that
                      this is a joke.

                      According to Dave <http://uktv.co.uk/uktv/item/aid/604709
                      <http://uktv.co.uk/uktv/item/aid/604709> >

                      The Dave Historical Humour Study defines a joke as having a clear set-up
                      and punch line structure - this definition enabled the team to plot the
                      history of the joke as far back as 1900 BC. The results provide a unique
                      and compelling insight into how jokes have evolved over the years, both
                      globally and in the UK.

                      In other words, the scholars discerned jokes from other literary genres
                      on the basis of structure and, it appears, funny premise. The structure
                      is in the translation, but I question whether or not the humor in the
                      premise is modern or ancient. If it is one the world's oldest jokes,
                      then the humor has to ancient. I just don't know how to get at that.

                      By the way, one of their other old jokes is:

                      Other jokes that also make it onto the world's oldest list include a
                      more conventional gag from 1600 BC - how do you entertain a bored
                      pharaoh? You sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets
                      down the Nile and urge the pharaoh to go catch a fish. This is featured
                      on the Westcar Papyrus and is said to be about King Snorfru.

                      Is this for real or a bad paraphrase of a Middle Egyptian story?

                      Marc Cooper

                      Missouri State University

                      --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, victor avigdor hurowitz <victor@...>
                      wrote:
                      >
                      > There is nothing contradictory between being a joke and a proverbs, as
                      we
                      > can see from certain humoristic proverbs in the Book of Proverbs. In
                      > general, I think Niek Viedhaus has suggested that the so-called
                      > Sumerian Proverb collections are not "proverbs" at all but very
                      > ecclectic collections of short linguistic collocations learned by
                      scribes
                      > as part of their education for use as necessary in writing
                      compositions of
                      > all sorts.
                      > Victor Hurowitz
                      > BGU
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > On Thu, 7 Aug 2008, Marc Cooper wrote:
                      >
                      > >
                      > > Brian, the Sumerian text in question is a bilingual. The Akkadian
                      > > version uses the verb á¹£aratu, to fart. That seems to be pretty
                      good
                      > > justification for the translation. More interesting is whether this
                      is
                      > > a joke or proverb. Our culture bound media will take any reference
                      to
                      > > bodily functions as funny, but maybe the saying just means that
                      nothing
                      > > is flawless?
                      > >
                      > > Marc Cooper
                      > >
                      > > Missouri State University
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, Brian Colless briancolless@ wrote:
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > [SNIP]
                      > >
                      > > > I also have Gordon's Sumerian Proverbs (1959), and I remembered
                      this
                      > > > newly quoted 'quip' vaguely, so I hunted for it, starting with the
                      > > > 'cultural analysis' at the back. 'Sexual activity' (316) did not
                      have
                      > > > this one (not in this form, anyway).
                      > > >
                      > > > Here it is (1.12, p.47):
                      > > > níg-u4-bi-ta -- la-ba-gál-la
                      > > > ki-sikil-TUR úr-dam-na-ka TU$ nu-ub-dúr-re
                      > > >
                      > > > "It is a thing which is unprecedented {which in the past ['from
                      those
                      > > > days'] did not exist}:
                      > > > a young girl will not sit (?) in her husband's lap."
                      > > >
                      > > > Gordon suggested it might refer to child-marriage, and he cites
                      > > > proverb 2.81: "I will not marry a wife who is only three years
                      (old)
                      > > > as an ass (does)".
                      > > >
                      > > > He notes that ki-sikil-TUR = batûltum 'virgin', usually.
                      > > >
                      > > > The compound verb TU$ -- dúr is [was?] known only in this text.
                      > > >
                      > > > Gordon's glossary has for TU$: anus (bìd); buttocks (dúr);
                      dung
                      > > > ($e10); sit, dwell,(etc)
                      > > >
                      > > > I have just searched for it in René Labat's Manuel, and found
                      > > > eventually sign 254:
                      > > > DÚR, TU$ a$âbu (être assis; habiter).
                      > > >
                      > > > I will presume that the divided rectangle or square represents a
                      > > > 'bottom'.
                      > > >
                      > > > Who discovered that here it refers to wind coming through that
                      crack?
                      > > >
                      > > > Brian Colless
                      > > > Research Assistant, Massey University
                      > > > (A list of my publications is @:
                      > > > http://collesseum.googlepages.com
                      > > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      > >
                      > >
                      >




                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Jascha Kessler
                      What is obscure about putting a hot fish into the lady s navel? Unless one was completely eunuch-ized at birth?Jascha Kessler Professor English & Modern
                      Message 10 of 19 , Aug 7, 2008
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                        What is obscure about putting a hot fish into the lady's navel? Unless one
                        was completely eunuch-ized at birth?Jascha Kessler
                        Professor English & Modern Literature at UCLA?

                        On Thu, Aug 7, 2008 at 10:07 AM, Clark Whelton <cwhelton@...>wrote:

                        > >>>>> Victor Hurowitz wrote...
                        > This "joke" or whatever it is, is now available in B. Alster, Proverbs of
                        > Ancient Sumer in Collection 1 no. 1.12. Unfortunately, although there is
                        > full textual apparatus with Sumerian and Akkadian attestations, the
                        > commentary in volume 2 says not a word about it. I guess Alster thinks that
                        >
                        > if a joke needs to be explained it is not funny. He translates it
                        > "Something
                        > which has never occurred since time immemorial: Didn't the young girl fart
                        > in her husband's lap?".
                        >
                        > I used to write jokes professionally, and quickly discovered (1) that humor
                        >
                        > an unfunny way to earn a living, and (2) jokes are extremely fragile.
                        > Recently I related several jokes I heard long ago to several young adults
                        > in
                        > New York City. They did not laugh. In one case they had no idea what a
                        > "second story man" is (a burglar who enters a home via an upstairs window).
                        >
                        > Nor did they know that "putting on the dog" means (or used to mean) an
                        > ostentatious display of wealth or expensive clothing. Both expressions
                        > would have been understood by grammar school students in mid-20th century
                        > America, but are apparently unknown to younger speakers of American English
                        >
                        > today. Given the short shelf life of jokes, what chance do we have of
                        > "getting" wisecracks that are 3,500 years old? Stories about young girls
                        > and laps in Sumer almost certainly depend for their humor on word play,
                        > puns
                        > and slang terms that are unknown to us.
                        >
                        > btw, could modern jokesmiths make Sumerians laugh? If I may...
                        >
                        > Sumerian restaurant customer to waiter: "I can tell your chef is generous
                        > with his land."
                        >
                        > Waiter: "Why do you say that?"
                        >
                        > Customer: "Because there is sand in my soup."
                        >
                        > Clark Whelton
                        > New York
                        >
                        > PS
                        >
                        > I found the following in my files... not sure if it's a genuine news item.
                        >
                        > "While attempting the enormous project of constructing a dictionary of
                        > ancient Sumerian, scholars at the University of Pennsylvania in
                        > Philadelphia
                        > found that some of the phrases they encountered on ancient tablets remained
                        >
                        > semantically difficult no matter how they tried to interpret them. After
                        > weeks of work one example stubbornly refused to mean anything other than:
                        > 'He put a hot fish in her navel.' - Sunday Times
                        >
                        >
                        >



                        --
                        Jascha Kessler
                        Emeritus Professor of English & Modern Literature, UCLA
                        Telephone/Facsimile: 530.684.5120
                        www.jaschakessler.com
                        www.xlibris.com


                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Peter T. Daniels
                        I m pretty sure it was Erica Reiner who told this story of Benno Landsberger: Faced at an AOS meeting with a graduate student who emended a Sumerian text, he
                        Message 11 of 19 , Aug 7, 2008
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                          I'm pretty sure it was Erica Reiner who told this story of Benno Landsberger: Faced at an AOS meeting with a graduate student who emended a Sumerian text, he said, If _I_ will not emend a Sumerian text, who are you to do so?

                          (I am very happy that in my time I heard addresses by both Kramer and Jacobsen, but Landsberger was before my time. And neither von Soden nor Bottero visited Chicago in those days. I'm probably the youngest person who knew Oppenheim professionally -- I did some proofreading on CAD M during his last months before retiring.

                          I was glad to finally meet WGL at the Chicago Rencontre in 2005, where our world gathered to celebrate the CAD and, as I suspect she already knew, to bid farewell to Erica.)
                          --
                          Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...

                          ----- Original Message ----
                          From: Brian Colless <briancolless@...>
                          To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                          Sent: Thursday, August 7, 2008 8:05:03 AM
                          Subject: [ANE-2] Re: World's oldest joke (Sumerian proverb 1.12)

                          I was very excited reading S.N.Kramer's publications, and I actually
                          saw him, in gentle confrontation with W. Lambert (I had devoured my
                          copy of his Babylonian Wisdom Literature) in Paris at an Orientalist
                          congress (WL was chided by Samuel Noah K for emending an Akkadian
                          text; 'the scribe got it wrong' is only a last resort).
                        • Frank Polak
                          Dear Avigdor, Niek Veldhuis? Frank Polak
                          Message 12 of 19 , Aug 8, 2008
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                            Dear Avigdor,
                            Niek Veldhuis?
                            Frank Polak

                            On Aug 7, 2008, at 8:42 PM, victor avigdor hurowitz wrote:

                            > Niek Viedhaus
                          • victor
                            Yes. Sorry I mangled the Dutch _____ From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Frank Polak Sent: Friday, August 08, 2008 12:40 PM
                            Message 13 of 19 , Aug 8, 2008
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                              Yes. Sorry I mangled the Dutch



                              _____

                              From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
                              Frank Polak
                              Sent: Friday, August 08, 2008 12:40 PM
                              To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                              Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: World's oldest joke (Sumerian proverb 1.12)



                              Dear Avigdor,
                              Niek Veldhuis?
                              Frank Polak

                              On Aug 7, 2008, at 8:42 PM, victor avigdor hurowitz wrote:

                              > Niek Viedhaus





                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • Brian Colless
                              ... The English-Assyrian and Concise D give me s.arâtu for fart . Right? As I said, I was looking at the educational aspect of proverbs. The word ma$al
                              Message 14 of 19 , Aug 9, 2008
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                                On 8/08/2008, at 4:01 AM, Marc Cooper wrote:
                                >
                                > Brian, the Sumerian text in question is a bilingual
                                >

                                > Well, I looked for it in Lambert but did not see it there.
                                >
                                >




                                > The Akkadian
                                > version uses the verb á¹£aratu, to fart. That seems to be pretty good
                                > justification for the translation.
                                >

                                > I can not decipher á¹£aratu.
                                >





                                >
                                The English-Assyrian and Concise D give me s.arâtu for 'fart'. Right?

                                As I said, I was looking at the educational aspect of proverbs.
                                The word ma$al covers proverb, taunt, and (I think) riddle.

                                And I think I have discovered one at Beth-Shemesh, which I will put on
                                a separate posting.

                                Brian Colless
                                Massey University, NZ
                                >
                                > More interesting is whether this is
                                > a joke or proverb. Our culture bound media will take any reference to
                                > bodily functions as funny, but maybe the saying just means that
                                > nothing
                                > is flawless?
                                >
                                > Marc Cooper
                                >
                                > Missouri State University
                                >
                                > --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, Brian Colless <briancolless@...> wrote:
                                >
                                > [SNIP]
                                >
                                > > I also have Gordon's Sumerian Proverbs (1959), and I remembered this
                                > > newly quoted 'quip' vaguely, so I hunted for it, starting with the
                                > > 'cultural analysis' at the back. 'Sexual activity' (316) did not
                                > have
                                > > this one (not in this form, anyway).
                                > >
                                > > Here it is (1.12, p.47):
                                > > níg-u4-bi-ta -- la-ba-gál-la
                                > > ki-sikil-TUR úr-dam-na-ka TU$ nu-ub-dúr-re
                                > >
                                > > "It is a thing which is unprecedented {which in the past ['from
                                > those
                                > > days'] did not exist}:
                                > > a young girl will not sit (?) in her husband's lap."
                                > >
                                > > Gordon suggested it might refer to child-marriage, and he cites
                                > > proverb 2.81: "I will not marry a wife who is only three years (old)
                                > > as an ass (does)".
                                > >
                                > > He notes that ki-sikil-TUR = batûltum 'virgin', usually.
                                > >
                                > > The compound verb TU$ -- dúr is [was?] known only in this text.
                                > >
                                > > Gordon's glossary has for TU$: anus (bìd); buttocks (dúr); dung
                                > > ($e10); sit, dwell,(etc)
                                > >
                                > > I have just searched for it in René Labat's Manuel, and found
                                > > eventually sign 254:
                                > > DÚR, TU$ a$âbu (être assis; habiter).
                                > >
                                > > I will presume that the divided rectangle or square represents a
                                > > 'bottom'.
                                > >
                                > > Who discovered that here it refers to wind coming through that
                                > crack?
                                > >
                                > > Brian Colless
                                > > Research Assistant, Massey University
                                > > (A list of my publications is @:
                                > > http://collesseum.googlepages.com
                                > >
                                >
                                > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                >
                                >
                                >



                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              • Brian Colless
                                Peter, I am touched by your response. You and I always seem to get in touch when the Olympic Games are on. I have not had much opportunity to move in the
                                Message 15 of 19 , Aug 9, 2008
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                                  Peter,
                                  I am touched by your response. You and I always seem to get in touch
                                  when the Olympic Games are on.
                                  I have not had much opportunity to move in the higher circles.
                                  Library research is my way, and I generally keep a low profile, except
                                  when I am in this forum.

                                  Brian Colless
                                  Massey U, NZ

                                  On 8/08/2008, at 7:57 AM, Peter T. Daniels wrote:

                                  > I'm pretty sure it was Erica Reiner who told this story of Benno
                                  > Landsberger: Faced at an AOS meeting with a graduate student who
                                  > emended a Sumerian text, he said, If _I_ will not emend a Sumerian
                                  > text, who are you to do so?
                                  >
                                  > (I am very happy that in my time I heard addresses by both Kramer
                                  > and Jacobsen, but Landsberger was before my time. And neither von
                                  > Soden nor Bottero visited Chicago in those days. I'm probably the
                                  > youngest person who knew Oppenheim professionally -- I did some
                                  > proofreading on CAD M during his last months before retiring.
                                  >
                                  > I was glad to finally meet WGL at the Chicago Rencontre in 2005,
                                  > where our world gathered to celebrate the CAD and, as I suspect she
                                  > already knew, to bid farewell to Erica.)
                                  > --
                                  > Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
                                  >
                                  > ----- Original Message ----
                                  > From: Brian Colless <briancolless@...>
                                  > To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                                  > Sent: Thursday, August 7, 2008 8:05:03 AM
                                  > Subject: [ANE-2] Re: World's oldest joke (Sumerian proverb 1.12)
                                  >
                                  > I was very excited reading S.N.Kramer's publications, and I actually
                                  > saw him, in gentle confrontation with W. Lambert (I had devoured my
                                  > copy of his Babylonian Wisdom Literature) in Paris at an Orientalist
                                  > congress (WL was chided by Samuel Noah K for emending an Akkadian
                                  > text; 'the scribe got it wrong' is only a last resort).
                                  >
                                  >



                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                • Brian Colless
                                  Omni oratio nil labor ... A poker face, I guess. Would you like to parse each word for me and explain the syntax? omni (not omnis or omne or omnia): dative
                                  Message 16 of 19 , Aug 9, 2008
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                                    Omni oratio nil labor'
                                    > 'all talk, no action' (Jim West)

                                    > Jim (my Facebook friend) I would have liked to see what kind of a
                                    > face you were pulling when you wrote that.
                                    A poker face, I guess.

                                    Would you like to parse each word for me and explain the syntax?
                                    omni (not omnis or omne or omnia): dative case singular 'to all'
                                    oratio: nominative singular 'speech'
                                    labor: nominative singular 'work, activity'; verb 1st p sg 'I slip,
                                    pass away'
                                    ni(hi)l : indeclinable 'nothing'

                                    I know all Latin epigrams are meant to be obscure, and they always
                                    trick me.

                                    Our Fort Street school motto was: Faber est quisque suae fortunae
                                    (every word in an abnormal position: Everyone is the maker of their
                                    own fortune)

                                    Can we ask John Wall what wall he found this graffito on, which he has
                                    taken as his motto?

                                    On 8/08/2008, at 2:47 AM, Jim West wrote:

                                    > Brian Colless wrote:
                                    >
                                    > (I was a Latin teacher once, but the sense of 'Omni oratio nil labor'
                                    > eludes me, too.)
                                    >
                                    > If I may-
                                    >
                                    > 'all talk, no action'
                                    >
                                    > it's kind of funny for a signature.
                                    >
                                    > ++++++
                                    >
                                    > Jim West, ThD
                                    >
                                    > http://jwest.wordpress.com -- Blog
                                    > http://sites.google.com/site/biblicalstudiesresources/ - Biblical
                                    > Studies Resources
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >

                                    Brian Colless
                                  • Ariel L. Szczupak
                                    ... It (at least the translation) is very similar to the grassroots wisdom that used to be found in farmers almanacs, but the double negative seems to
                                    Message 17 of 19 , Aug 9, 2008
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                                      At 07:01 PM 8/7/2008, Marc Cooper wrote:


                                      >Brian, the Sumerian text in question is a bilingual. The Akkadian
                                      >version uses the verb á¹£aratu, to fart. That seems to be pretty good
                                      >justification for the translation. More interesting is whether this is
                                      >a joke or proverb. Our culture bound media will take any reference to
                                      >bodily functions as funny, but maybe the saying just means that nothing
                                      >is flawless?

                                      It (at least the translation) is very similar to the "grassroots
                                      wisdom" that used to be found in farmers' almanacs, but the double
                                      negative seems to indicate that it's not just a statement about
                                      flaws, but also about when they become apparent. The Australian TV
                                      program "Comedy Inc." had a skit [sorry, couldn't locate it on
                                      YouTube] in which a couple, sitting at a restaurant, were ready to
                                      take the relationship to the next, Sumerian-wise, step. I wonder if
                                      the skit writer ever read ANET :)



                                      Ariel.

                                      [100% bona fide dilettante ... delecto ergo sum!]

                                      ---
                                      Ariel L. Szczupak
                                      AMIS-JLM (Ricercar Ltd.)
                                      POB 4707, Jerusalem, Israel 91406
                                      Phone: +972-2-5619660 Fax: +972-2-5634203
                                      ane.als@...
                                      ---
                                      http://yvetteszczupakthomas.blogspot.com/
                                      http://undiamantbrut.blogspot.com/
                                    • John Wall
                                      Omni oratio nil labor. I was told it meant all talk and no work . I got it from a student association I used to belong to. Doesn t it sum up the armchair
                                      Message 18 of 19 , Aug 10, 2008
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                                        Omni oratio nil labor.

                                        I was told it meant "all talk and no work".

                                        I got it from a student association I used to belong to.

                                        Doesn't it sum up the armchair scholar - a category in which I would place
                                        myself - perfectly ?

                                        All the best,

                                        John Wall
                                        Omni oratio nil labor

                                        From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
                                        Brian Colless
                                        > Can we ask John Wall what wall he found this graffito on, which he has
                                        > taken as his motto?
                                      • Michael.Borries@mail.cuny.edu
                                        Just a guess: Omni oratio = A speech for everything. Michael S. Borries CUNY Central Cataloging 151 East 25th Street, 5th Floor New York, NY 10010 email:
                                        Message 19 of 19 , Aug 11, 2008
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                                          Just a guess: "Omni oratio" = "A speech for everything."

                                          Michael S. Borries
                                          CUNY Central Cataloging
                                          151 East 25th Street, 5th Floor
                                          New York, NY 10010
                                          email: Michael.Borries@...
                                          Phone: (646) 312-1687



                                          Brian Colless <briancolless@...>
                                          Sent by: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                                          08/09/2008 01:59 PM
                                          Please respond to
                                          ANE-2@yahoogroups.com


                                          To
                                          ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                                          cc

                                          Subject
                                          [ANE-2] Re: World's oldest jokes, and mottos









                                          Omni oratio nil labor'
                                          > 'all talk, no action' (Jim West)

                                          > Jim (my Facebook friend) I would have liked to see what kind of a
                                          > face you were pulling when you wrote that.
                                          A poker face, I guess.

                                          Would you like to parse each word for me and explain the syntax?
                                          omni (not omnis or omne or omnia): dative case singular 'to all'
                                          oratio: nominative singular 'speech'
                                          labor: nominative singular 'work, activity'; verb 1st p sg 'I slip,
                                          pass away'
                                          ni(hi)l : indeclinable 'nothing'

                                          I know all Latin epigrams are meant to be obscure, and they always
                                          trick me.

                                          Our Fort Street school motto was: Faber est quisque suae fortunae
                                          (every word in an abnormal position: Everyone is the maker of their
                                          own fortune)

                                          Can we ask John Wall what wall he found this graffito on, which he has
                                          taken as his motto?

                                          On 8/08/2008, at 2:47 AM, Jim West wrote:

                                          > Brian Colless wrote:
                                          >
                                          > (I was a Latin teacher once, but the sense of 'Omni oratio nil labor'
                                          > eludes me, too.)
                                          >
                                          > If I may-
                                          >
                                          > 'all talk, no action'
                                          >
                                          > it's kind of funny for a signature.
                                          >
                                          > ++++++
                                          >
                                          > Jim West, ThD
                                          >
                                          > http://jwest.wordpress.com -- Blog
                                          > http://sites.google.com/site/biblicalstudiesresources/ - Biblical
                                          > Studies Resources
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >

                                          Brian Colless




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