Monday, June 8, 2009

A Manual of Sumerian Grammar (a Review)

This volume is a superb grammar that is very suitable for self-learners. This is not to say that it is an easy read. It is however a thorough and understandable text which will help the interested reader learn Sumerian.

Chapter one discusses Sumerian’s linguistic affiliations (or lack thereof) and gives an overview of the languages characteristics. The book then lays out the specifics of Sumerian grammar in a series of twenty-six lessons. During these lessons, Dr. Hayes openly discusses areas of Sumerian Grammar that are not well understood and covers the theories of other scholars that differ with his own.

Each lesson contains vocabulary words and one or more texts which are transliterated and translated by the author. The grammar of each line of the text is explained in detail. Many of the chapters conclude with a short discussion of some point of Sumerian history or culture that is related to the texts the student has just finished working on.

The texts range from only five or six lines to ones of slightly over twenty lines. Some are temple dedication texts while others are historical texts. There is a good variety of texts so that the student does not get tired of translating the same type of text over and over.

At the end of the book there is a glossary and a superb bibliography.

This is without a doubt the grammar that a student of Sumerian should start with. Other grammars written in English are really not meant for the beginning student.

1 comment:

  1. Indeed! It is a very valuable tool for learning Sumerian. There are very good explanations regarding grammar and texts and from the very first lesson one is able to translate an inscription. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in Sumerian!