If I'm not mistaken, the Sumerians called themselves as 𒊕𒈪𒂵 (saĝ-gíg-ga) and their country as 𒆠𒂗𒄀 (k-en-gi(-r), how would you turn that into an adjectival form or demonym like how -n is added to America to turn it into an adjectival form denoting to the American people, culture, etc.?

Similarly, how would demonyms be formed in Akkadian?

  • Are you asking about Sumerian or Akkadian? The title mentions both but the question body is only about Sumerian.
    – Draconis
    Oct 13, 2022 at 15:12
  • I actually meant both but I forgot to write Akkadian in the body.
    – GatLikha
    Oct 13, 2022 at 15:29
  • I don't know for sure that it's attested in Akkadian, but the nisba suffix is found in this sense throughout Semitic and Egyptian, so is likely in Akkadian. That may a good place to look for confirmation
    – Tristan
    Oct 13, 2022 at 15:50

2 Answers 2


Sumerian has very few words that can be described as "adjectives". Someone's homeland would instead be indicated by just combining nouns: lú adabki "the man from Adab". So if you wanted to talk about a whole population, you could extend this to nam.lú.ulu₃ adabki "the people from Adab". This is generally written without a genitive marker, but I believe the marker should be there in the spoken language even if it's not written.


Most Afro-Asiatic languages would indicate this with a nisba suffix (or as Huehnergard calls it, a "relative adjective"). And indeed, Akkadian has (or at one point had) that suffix too, though it usually gets absorbed into the final vowel of whatever it's attached to: aḫ-um "border" + > aḫ-ī-um > aḫûm "outsider".

Thus, the most common way to form a demonym is (practically speaking) to lengthen the suffix: Amurr-um "Amor" > Amurrûm "Amorite".

  • should ahûm read aḫûm or is the shift to h correct?
    – Tristan
    Oct 14, 2022 at 13:11
  • @Tristan: It should be aḫûm, yes. However, since plain "h" is not normally used in Akkadian transliteration, and "ḫ" can be a tricky character to type, it's quite common to drop the underbreve. Oct 14, 2022 at 14:20
  • @IlmariKaronen ah yes, I'd forgotten there was only one guttural in Akkadian. Still, the transcription should be consistent
    – Tristan
    Oct 14, 2022 at 14:33
  • @Tristan Yep, just a typo. Fixed.
    – Draconis
    Oct 14, 2022 at 14:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.