11

As noted by Draconis, this is not a Sumerian but an Akkadian word, specifically a form of the verb banû, "to build". Specifically, I would analyze it as the G-durative (for the D-stem, the 2nd person prefix should be tu- instead of ta-) with a subjunctive marker -u- and an enclitic second person feminine object pronoun -ši,1 i.e. as tabanni+u+ši → ...


10

TL;DR: The sign ŠAR2 was originally a numeral sign meaning 3600 = 60 × 60. Like all early cuneiform numerals, it was made by pushing the tip of a round stylus into the clay. When these round styli gradually fell out of use during the Old Akkadian period, it turned into a square made of four diagonal wedges, effectively merging with the sign ḪI, as seen in ...


9

This is an Akkadian word, a form of banû "to build". My grasp of Akkadian conjugation isn't the best, especially for "weak" verbs that lose one of their consonants, but it looks like a second singular feminine D-stem form: "you (female) are building". (Question for someone who's better at Akkadian: where's the S coming from?) ...


8

In the monograph Угаритский язык [1965, Сегерт С.] (“The Ugaritic Language”, 1965, by Stanislav Segert), page 22, section 3.14, the author states that in the latest stages of the existence of Ugaritic its interdental consonants changed their pronunciation: ṯ began to be pronounced as š and ḏ as ž. A screenshot: The chart is titled “Scheme of development ...


7

In theory, the signs with the lowest index numbers are the most frequent. In practice, the numbers were assigned when the pronunciation of signs were first identified. For example, after u1, u2, u3 were identified the next /u/ sign to be identified got called u4.


7

It appears to be a made-up combination of signs from different periods, with one of the signs flipped backwards. The first sign appears to be a combination of the Neo-Assyrian forms of LÚ = "man" (Unicode U+121FD, 𒇽) with a left-to-right mirrored MUNUS = "woman" (U+122A9, 𒊩) attached to it. The second one is the old-fashioned (e.g. Sumerian ...


6

ś is the conventional transliteration for Hebrew שׂ ( śīn ), and is used also for its Semitic source, now more usually transcribed as s₂. It is believed that Old Akkadian (at least) still retained the Semitic distinction of s₁, s₂ and s₃ and used different signs for syllables containing each of these. This is reflected by the transcription of those signs.


5

To add on to Yellow Sky's excellent answer, and based on suggestions by Vladimir F in the comments, here's an excerpt from Segert's later A Basic Grammar of Ugaritic Language (1985): In some late, informal texts, a reduced inventory of phonemes is used. The original /ṯ/ merges with /š/; the result of the merger is transliterated Š (the Ugaritic sign is a ...


5

I haven't heard about anything like that concerning cuneiform glyphs, but there's a very interesting paper, The Xixia Writing System (Bachelor of Arts Honours Thesis), 2008, by Alan Downes (downloadable here), in which the author proposes a very smart way to encode the Tangut characters which are far more complicated than cuneiform glyphs. The author's aim ...


5

Another good indication is the use of determinatives in linguistically-unrelated languages that share the same writing system. Classical Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform was used to write Sumerian (a language isolate), Akkadian (Semitic), Hittite (Indo-European), and a handful of others from various families. As far as we know, these languages don't have a common ...


5

A good argument for determiners being silent can be this: names of different kinds of trees and names of wooden things were preceded by the determiner G̃IŠ (tree, wood, tool), for example: G̃IŠ.nàd, G̃IŠ.ná: bed, couch (ná = nú-a, 'to lie down' + nominative G̃IŠ.kun4: ladder, stairs, threshold G̃IŠ.kiri6: orchard, garden, palm grove (ki, 'place', + ru5, 'to ...


4

A is the conventional name for a particular cuneiform glyph, typically its most common or best-known pronunciation. But the sign A can be read as a, aya₂, e₄, ea, ŋa₁₀, or many others. The JSON is mapping the name to a list of all these possible readings. Sometimes, though, a cuneiform glyph is made from other glyphs joined together. There are a variety of ...


4

Yes, Sumerian scribes did sometimes write words entirely or partly phonetically using syllable signs. This could occur for several reasons: As Draconis already noted, grammatical prefixes and suffixes (which Sumerian used a lot, especially with verbs) were always written phonetically, since that was really the only way they could be written. (Admittedly, ...


4

In Akkadian, Ca-a, Cu-u, Ci-i are often used to indicate Semitic long vowels, but this is not consistent. For example, dabābu “word” is usually written as da-ba-bu, but sometimes it appears as da-ba-a-bu. Use of the "plene" spelling is positive evidence for a long vowel, but non-use does not by any means prove that the vowel is short. Double a-a for ay (...


4

Gelb proposes that there were four sibilant series, somewhat confusingly named z, š₁₂, š₃, and š₄. The z series was written with signs ZA, ZÉ, ZI, ZU, and represented the outcome of what Semiticists now generally consider affricates (i.e. PSem *s, *ṣ, etc). The š₁₂ series was written with signs SA, SE₁₁, SI, SU, and represented the outcome of Semitic s₁ (...


3

If I'm not mistaken, the determiner DIŠ (which is literally just the sign for "one", a single cuneiform wedge) can sometimes be found also with female names. The double determiner DIŠ.MUNUS is also sometimes attested* for females, further suggesting that DIŠ was not always regarded as strongly male-specific. Also, personal names were frequently written ...


2

To some extent, yes! Sumerian did use some of its characters phonetically to spell out inflections. For example, dumu-tur-bi-ne-da son-small-DEM-PL-COMIT "with those small sons" would be written with the logograms DUMU and TUR, followed by the phonetic characters bi, ne, and da. Sure, the DA sign could also be a logogram for the side of an object or a type ...


2

According to Huehnergard's grammar (appendix D.1.d), Babylonian scribes distinguished the sign 𒄴 from the sign 𒀪. The former was used for VH, and the latter for the glottal stop—some authors call it ', others call it 'V, V' (so na'du "pious" would be transliterated either na-'-du or na-a'-du). In earlier periods and other regions, the two were ...


2

I think you have examined this issue thoroughly. I was misled by von Soden's confusing notation. It does indeed seem that no known variant of Akkadian distinguished between Semitic s1 and s2.


1

Hasselbach 2005 discusses the use of ś in OAkk transcription, which she says was introduced by von Soden, but ultimately rejects it as unclear. According to her, modern (post-Gelb) scholars generally reconstruct three sibilant "phonemes" for Sargonic Akkadian, which are consistently written differently. There may have actually been more phonemic ...


1

Protohattisch is perhaps the Hattic language, the isolated languages which had been spoken on the territory of the Hittite kingdom before Hittites arrived and settled there. The language is known from toponyms and a very scarce corpus written in syllabic cuneiform which makes it decipherment still more problematic. Hittites used Hattic as a ritual language ...


1

I haven't found any authoritative source backing this up, but as best I can tell from perusing the ePSD: the numbering "carries over" from a reading using only Akkadian phonemes to a reading that contains non-Akkadian ones (particularly Sumerian ĝ/ŋ and ř/dr). Akkadian has always been the best-understood of the languages using syllabic cuneiform, ...


1

As has already been noted, it's not always possible to be sure. Scholars can and do have legitimate disagreements on whether a particular sign in a particular context was read out loud, or whether it simply acted as a silent determinative. That said, most of the time one can make a pretty good educated guess. In practice (assuming that you're reading a ...


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