This article deals with Sumerian as it relates to NationStates. For more general information, see the Wikipedia article on this subject.
|Spoken in:||Sumer, The Macabees, Small groups of speakers in 12 to 15 countries.|
|Total declared fluent or learning speakers:||2,040,643,790 (Estimate)|
|Genetic classification:||Language Isolate: No known relations.|
|Official language of:||Sumer|
|Regulated by:||Kalam Sajar Emegir National Counsel on the Sumerian Language|
|Sumer:||2,009,150,000 (Last count)|
|The Macabees:||17,530,000 (Estimate)|
Sumerian (Emegir) is the language spoken by the People of Sumer. Sumerian has the distinction of being the first language to use writing, dating back in written form to approxemetly 3100 BCE or earlier. Modern Standard Sumerian, the oficial language of the Dictorial Republic of Sumer, is spoken almost exclusivly by the population within the borders of Sumer, however an increasing number of international speakers have begun to show up. Sumerian as a language is an isolate, meaning it has no known genetic relative currently or previously existing. The vast body of Sumerian words and morphemes has been largly natural to the language, meaning many of the words were devloped by native speakers over the languages thousands of years of use. However in some cases adaptations and borrowings have come over from Taino (As in the case of ita for "Don't know") and from Arabic (The adoption of the definite article al). Although less common within the NationStates world, Sumerian is spoken by a signifigant population within Sumer itself, with a substansial base of speakers being built up within The Macabees.
- 1 History
- 2 Phonetics
- 3 Morphology
- 4 Grammar
- 5 Writing and Orthograpgy
Spoken Sumerian is a very simple language in initial structure and pronounciation. This section will give a basic overview of Sumerian sounds and the formation of simple words. Knowledge of the International Phonetic Alphabet will be useful in learning the sounds.
Sumerian comprises of fourteen phonemic consonants:
- /b/ Initial consonant sound in 'bike' (Voiced Bilabial Plosive)
- /m/ Initial consonant sound in 'map' (Boiced Bilabial Nasal)
- /d/ Initial consonant sound in 'dam' (Voiced Alveolar Plosive)
- /t/ Initial consonant sound in 'tank' (Voiceless Alveolar Plosive)
- /s/ Initial consonant sound in 'stick' (Voiceless Alveolar Fricative)
- /z/ Initial consonant sound in 'zoo' (Voiced Alveolar Fricative)
- /sh/ Final consonant sound in 'dash' (Voiceless Postalveolar Fricative)
- /j/ Final consonant sound in 'sing' (Voiced Palatal Nasal)
- /r/ Final consonant sound in 'car' (Voiced Alveolar Approximant)
- /l/ Initial consonant sound in 'light' (Voiced Alveolar Latteral Approximate)
- /n/ Initial/Final consonant sound in "noun" (Voiced Alveolar Nasal)
- /k/ Initial consonant sound in 'cat' (Voiceless Velar Plosive)
- /g/ Initial consonant sound in 'gun' (Voiced Velar Plosive)
- /x/ Final consonant sound in Scottish 'Loch' (Voiceless Uvular Plosive)
Sumerian has only four phonemic vowels, with plenty of allophonic variation (see below) between speakers.
- /i/ As in 'hip' (Close Front Lax Unrounded)
- /e/ As in 'peg' (Close-mid front Unrounded)
- /u/ As in 'pull' (Close back lax)
- /a/ As in 'father' (Open-mid back unrounded)
Allophonic variation in spoken Sumerian is tied exclusivly to the production of vowel sounds. The seperate allophonic variants are all considered the same distinct sound in the spoken language and are treated equal to that base phoneme that they replace. Variation exists primarily within the individual speaker and is not strongly tied to regional or social differences. The fllowing chart can help distinguish allophonic variations:
- /e/ is considered allophonic with all Close-mid Front and Central vowels, rounded or unrounded, as well as the central vowel (schwa).
- /u/ is allophonic with the Close-mid back rounded vowel.
- /a/ is allophonic with all Open and Open-mid vowels.
In spoken Sumerian words are formed by the combination of several morphemes into a word-phrase. The word-phrase in Sumerian is the basis of sentence structure and is thus equated as a word in refrence to other languages or contemporary linguistic descriptions.
What one may notice quickly is that Sumerian words are spawned from a simple root, and then inflected as required to give the appropriate meaning before being placed within a sentence. Sumerian word roots act as verbal, nominal, and adjectival roots derived from the same basic morpheme. Determining the form which the root has taken is done through the inflection order and process of the specific word class.
Simple morphological structures in Sumerian are listed using Consonant (C), and Vowel (V):
Sumerian nouns, as stated above, are derived from word roots. Sumerian nouns are created through the addition of various suffixed inflections of case, number, and gender.
Typical Sumerian noun-phrase structure is as follows: Root-Gender-Number-Case
Case inflections being ordered as follows: Core:Ablative:Comitative:Dative:Locative:Locative-Terminative:Terminative:Equative:Genetive
Gender is added to a noun through the use of the word for either man nitax, and woman munus, suffixed to the noun root to give the gender of the specific noun. However, gender is not obligational and is normally only included for specificity. The lack of gender within the noun keeps the noun in the genderless form.
Number in Sumerian expresses only the singular and the plural. Pluralised nouns are specified by the suffix -ene, while singular nouns are left without this suffix.
Case is one of the defining features of Sumerian, refrencing the noun-phrase to the verb-phrase within a sentence to provide meaning agreement within the sentence.
- The Core Case inflection of the Ergative e is applied to the noun phrase when it occupies the Agent (Or Subject) place within a sentence only. The lack of the Ergative inflection indicates that the noun phrase is occupying the Patient (Or Object) postsion within a sentence.
- The Ablative inflection relates the nouns within a sentence, equivilant to English from and by.
- The Comitative inflection relates nouns within a sentence together, equivilant to English with.
- The Dative inflection distinguishes the recipient of something, equivilant to English to or for.
- The Locative inflection indicates that the subject is within the object, equivilant to English in.
- The Locative-Terminative inflection indicates subject proximity to the object, equivilant to
English by and at.
- The Terminative inflection indicates subject direction (Possibly of movement) towards the object, equivilant to English to and toward.
- The Equative inflection indicates equation between subject and object, equivilant to English like.
- The Genitive inflection indicates posession, equivilant to English of.
It must be included that case inflection is specific to where the noun sits within a sentence. A noun in the Subject postsion has the Ergative inflection, with the Comitative, Dative, Locative-Terminative, Terminative, Equative, and Genetive inflections optional as required for the sentence. Where a noun in the Object postsion may be inflected by the Ablative and Locative inflections, as required for meaning.
The following is the list of Case Inflections:
- Core -- /e/
- Ablative -- /ta/ - Or /t/ after a vowel.
- Comitative -- /da/ - Or /d/ after a vowel.
- Dative -- /ra/ - Or /r/ after a vowel.
- Locative -- /a/
- Locative-Terminative -- /e/
- Terminative -- /she/
- Equative -- /gin/
- Genetive -- /ak/ - Or /k/ after a vowel.
Abstract nouns are created by prefixing nam- to a word root. An example is the term Kalam, which is Sumer, the modification into Namkalam means Sumerian.
The formation of a concrete noun is accomplished by prefixing nig- to a Verbal root in the infinitive form.
Pronouns in the singular form in Sumerian are indicated within the verb-phrase in the singular form. Because of this they will be described with the Verbs later on. However there are exceptions to the Verb-Inclusion rule, which will be noted below.
Posessive Pronouns are attached to the end of any Noun-Phrase as required to indicate posession of the whole Noun Phrase. Pluralisation is indicated by the addition of the plural noun affix to the Posessive affix. The Posessive Pronouns are listed here:
- -ju - "my" - First Person
- -zu - "your" - Second Person
- -ani - "his"/"her" - Third Person Animate
- -bi - "its" - Third Person Inanimate
Independant Pronouns are not very common in Spoken Sumerian except when used for contrast or to apply emphesis. These pronouns have no seperate plural form, as well as no gender form. The Independant Pronouns are listed below"
- jae - "I"/"We" - First person
- zae - "You" - Second Person
- ene - "He"/"She" - Third Person Animate
- ur - "It" - Third Person Inanimate
Independant Pronouns, when used, may be placed in the postsion of Subject. When in the Subject postsion all applicable Case inflections apply.
Numbers and Numeration
Writing and Orthograpgy