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Sumerian proverbial joke

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  • Brian Colless
    ... 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 1 of 1 , Aug 10, 2008
      > 'Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young
      > woman did not fart in her husband's lap.'

      >>>>> 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?".

      Brian Colless responds:

      I still don't get it.
      Have we really got the sense of the Sumerian right yet?
      Suddenly it has become a negative question.
      Is there some idiom we have not recognized?
      What actually is the posture of the two persons in the scenario?

      It is supposed to be something unheard of. And here the joke is
      ironical: what is not expected does not happen? In the culture
      surrounding me, women complain about men breaking wind in intimate
      moments and thinking it is funny; if a woman did it, that would be a
      turn-up?

      I trust nobody has been finding Freudian allusions in my words along
      this thread.
      _______________________

      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."

      E.I. 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)".


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