Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Sumerian Reader: a Review

I am in London on a business trip and while in London, I visited Foyle’s Bookshop, which bills itself as the world’s largest book store, and they might be right about that. I found a book, A Sumerian Reader, by Konrad Volk, which I did not even know existed. It was a great find.

The book grew out of some texts that the author put together to give students practice reading Sumerian. The author published the current version of the work in 1999.

The book is a slim volume that is highly useful to the student of Sumerian. Dr. Volk includes texts from three genres: Royal Inscriptions, Legal Texts (marriage contracts, slave purchases, etc.) and “Economic Documents”. The texts are given in Sumerian characters and in transliteration. In all, 44 texts are presented in this volume.

The book also includes a Sumerian sign list (only for the signs used in this book), a Sumerian to English dictionary, a list of place names and person al names. Lists of divine names and Sacred Buildings are also given.

At 20 British Pounds, this book is a great value. Giving the student both the texts and the transliterations is a great help to self-learners who want to take the next step in learning Sumerian (after learning the language’s grammar).

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