In Sumerian Cuneiform and its descendants, determinatives are used next to a sign to disambiguatr its meaning. Usually this comes before, like (Hittite examples to follow:) DINGIRIŠTAR, but apparently some determinatives usually (always?) go after instead of before e.g. haraMUŠEN. Is there an explanation for this? as opposed to always coming before, or always coming after, or coming arbitrarily either before or after regardless of the determinative.

All my information is based on this site, so it might be outdated:


  • I recommend this quite interesting paper on Sumerian classifiers, 70 pages: The Question of Sumerian “Determinatives”, 2017, by Gebhard J. Selz, Colette Grinevald & Orly Goldwasser. They say the study of Sumerian determiners has always been neglected and never done in a thorough way, and lots of questions about them remain unanswered. My guess is the position reflects the place where that word would have been in the nominal phrase if the determiner had been pronounced. If the position does matter, the reason is semantics and/or valency.
    – Yellow Sky
    Nov 7, 2023 at 11:18


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