- Capa comum: 191 páginas
- Editora: Society of Biblical Literature; Edição: Bilingual (1 de janeiro de 2003)
- Idioma: Inglês
- ISBN-10: 1589832523
- ISBN-13: 978-1589832527
- Dimensões do produto: 15,2 x 1,2 x 22,9 cm
- Peso do produto: 295 g
Sumerian Grammar (Inglês) Capa Comum – 1 jan 2003
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Instead, Dr. Edzard has written a book that is aimed at more advanced students and specialists in the field, and he has done a great job of it. The author discusses differences of opinion between scholars regarding the finer points of Sumerian grammar and does a good job of illustrating how our knowledge of Sumerian is tied to ancient Akkadian texts which translate Sumerian into Akkadian. The long chapter on the Sumerian verb is daunting, but that is strictly due to the complexity of the material.
This book is also wonderfully concise. The material is properly covered, yet the book is only 190 pages long.
A student wishing to learn Sumerian from scratch should probably start with "A Manual of Sumerian Grammar" by John Hayes. Once they have mastered the material in Hayes' excellent book, they should then turn to Dr. Edzard's book for further study.
The second remark we have to do is that Sumerian is mostly agglutinative and this here grammar lists the agglutinative elements both on the side of the nouns and on the side of the verbs. Agglutinative it is and yet that is not enough to say so. Edzard has the tendency to freeze some presentations in traditional ways and thus to lists the marks that are not really present in the chain but are "mentally" present, that should be present. I mean Sumerian is in the process of restructuring its agglutinative marks in many ways: it discards the use of some when it is not necessary due to the redundant discursive context. For example a locative-terminative implying an ergative, the ergative may not be marked in the verb chain.
Then Sumerian is making its marks more and more abstract, which means they lose all semantic value to only keep their syntactic formal value. The various marks are restructured so that some cases use the same vocalic marks and others only use a particular consonant or vary the consonant on the basis of these vocalic marks. Sumerian is in the process, under our eyes, of reducing the number of marks and making them more and more abstract. This leads to a synthetic quality and no longer an agglutinative quality. We can also find in Sumerian some analytical elements, such as the anticipatory genitive that decomposes the genitive link and exteriorizes the marks. Thus from N1+N2-ak (genitive mark) we shift to N1-ak (genitive mark) + N2-possessive-pronoun-corresponding-to-N1. This shows this language is evolving from what it used to be and still mainly is, an agglutinative language, to a more synthetic or even analytical language.
When I have said that I have only said a very small part of what is to be said about this grammar. It is too short and it saves on the decompositions of the sentences, the specifications of each formative element, and of course the cuneiforms. This makes the use of the grammar difficult because you need to know Sumerian already to follow, or you must be very good at jumping from one page to the other. It is true there is no competitor on the market, but it is true there are several tools today to work with on the Internet and there this grammar appears very short indeed, I mean in pages.
Daniel Foxvog has a Sumerian Grammar and a Sumerian glossary (2010) on the Internet. John Halloran has an important Sumerian lexicon (2010) on the Internet, and there are quite a few more, including dictionaries, purely on the Internet, hence working like databases. As for the cuneiforms there is only Labat in print and John Heise on the Internet. Labat is superb though he calls it Akkadian. John Heise (2010, under development) is great because we can use the cuneiforms on our machines, hence write if we want, but he does not have all the subtlety Labat had and the compound signs are not always available. But the present grammar does not consider the cuneiforms at all and yet they are behind. The chains are analyzed along the cuneiform signs though most of the time one sign covers two marks that have been merged into that one sign.
To conclude it is a difficult tool for someone who is starting. Foxvog is a lot better along with John Heise for the cuneiform signs. The reference to Akkadian should be controlled and most of the time suppressed. The two languages are too far apart. But that comes from the fact that the geographical proximity of the two languages is mixed up with some kind of possible eventual genetic connection. This is purely absurd because Semitic languages, Akkadian being one, are first articulation languages, consonantal languages, whereas Sumerian is a third articulation language, and what's more evolving from the agglutinative stage towards the synthetic stage.
As Robert E. Dewar said in "Malagasy language as a Guide to Understanding Malagasy History" (2006) "languages differ in the extent to which they are susceptible to language contact change" and that is the case with Akkadian and Sumerian. They are too far apart linguistically for any partial or full merger in spite of millenia of sharing a territory and political-cultural power. That's the main point we have to align on those grammars of Sumerian: directly in the title like Labat or indirectly in the text like many others, Akkadian is a or the reference. We do not study Italian through German, as far as I know, except in Italy.
The last criticism for this grammar is that it does not contain a glossary of the basic Sumerian words with their translations in English. Labat's (in fact his daughter) goes in the wrong way as far as having a glossary of Akkadian words, which makes the use of their manual difficult for Sumerian students. Luckily John Halloran's Lexicon is avaialable.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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