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2014/1/24

Aleksi Sahala: Translation and grammatical analysis of Sumerian text "UVB 10, pl. 28"

Translation and grammatical analysis


UVB 10, pl. 28 (door socket); H. Steible, FAOS 9/2, 236ff.
Aleksi Sahala (10.02.2011)
University of Helsinki

Introduction
The structure is very typical for a royal inscription; in the beginning, both, the receiver (moongod Nanna) and the builder (king Amar-Suen) are introduced with their epithets. Then the
building process and its benefits for the king are described shortly. This text was originally
scribed on a door socket (see drawing here) and is dated back to the Neo-Sumerian period
(~2000 BC).

Grammatical analysis and translation


1-3

dnanna | kar-zi-da | lugal ki---ni-ir

/nanna kar.zid+ak lugal ki.+ani+r/


/Nanna Karzida+GENking love+3POSS+DAT/
For Nanna of Karzida, his beloved lord,
4-7

damar-dsu'en(EN.ZU) | den-ll-le | [nibr]uki -a | mu-p-da

/amar-suenak+ en.lil+e nibru+a mu.pad+a/


/Amar-Suen+ABSEnlil+ERGNippur+LOCname.find+PP/
Amar-Suen, called by name by Enlil in Nippur,
8-11

sa-s | den-ll-ka | diir zid | dutu kalam-ma-na


/sa.s den.ll+ak+ak diir zid dutu kalam+ani+ak/
/caretaker temple Enlil+GEN+GENgod true sun land+3POSS+GEN/
caretaker of the temple of Enlil, true god, sun of his land

12-14

lugal kala-ga | lugal uri5ki -ma | [l]ugal an ub-da 4-ba-ke 4


/lugal kalaga lugal urim+ak lugal an ub+da lmmu+bi+ak+e/
/king mighty king Ur+GENking heaven corner+COM4+3iPOSS+GEN+ERG/
mighty king, king of Ur, king of the (world's) four quarters,

15-17

[k]ar-zi-da-a | ud ul-l-a-ta | i6-par4-bi | nu-d-m


/karzida+a ud uli+ak+ta gi6.par4+bi+ nu+d+a+m/

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2014/1/24

Aleksi Sahala: Translation and grammatical analysis of Sumerian text "UVB 10, pl. 28"

/karzida+LOCday distant+GEN+ABLgipar+3iPOSS+ABSNEG+build+PP+3COP/
in Karzida, from the distant past, its gipar (dwelling) had not been built
18

en nu-un-ti-la-m
/en nu++n?+til+m/
/priestess NEG+PREF+3AGE?+live+3COP/
(and) truly, the en-priestess did not dwell (there).

19-20

damar-dsu'en | ki- dnanna-ke


4

/amar-suenak ki. nanna+ak+e/


/Amar-Suen love nanna+GEN+ERG/
Amar-Suen, beloved of Nanna,
21-22

gi6-par4 k-ga-ni | mu-na-d


/gi6.par4 kug+ani+ mu+na+n+dr/
/gipar holy+3POSS+ABSVENT+3DAT+3AGE+build/
built his holy gipar for him

23-24

en ki---ni | mu-na-ni-kur9
/en ki.+ani+ mu+na+ni+kur9/
/priestess love+3POSS+ABSVENT+3DAT+LOC+enter/
(and) his beloved en-priestess entered into it for him.

25-26

damar-dsu'en-ke | ud im-da-ab-su -re


4
13 6

/amar-suenak+e ud+ +m.da+b+sudr+e/


/amar-suen+ERGday+ABSPREF+3iCOM+3iOBJ+long+3AGE/
Amar-Suen prolongs the days with it (prolongs his life).
27-28

nam-ti-la-ni- | a mu-na-ru
/nam.til+ani+ a mu+na+n+ru/
/life+3POSS+TERwater VENT+3DAT+3AGE+impose/
(He) dedicated (the gipar) for him (Nanna) for his life.

Fluent translation
"For his beloved lord, Nanna of Karzida; Amar-Suen, whom Enlil has called by name in Nippur,
caretaker of the temple of Enlil - the true god, the sun-god of his land; [Amar-Suen] the mighty
king, the king of Ur, the king of the four corners [did this]: From the ancient times no Gipar
was built in Karzida [and] no En-priestess dwelled in it. Amar-Suen, the beloved of Nanna, built
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2014/1/24

Aleksi Sahala: Translation and grammatical analysis of Sumerian text "UVB 10, pl. 28"

the holy Gipar for him and the En-priestess entered in it. [By this] Amar-Suen prolonged his
days and dedicated it for his life."

Notes
1

Karzida means literally "the true quay" (kar.zid).

The dative case marker /-ra/ is systematically reduced to /-r/ in Neo-Sumerian

Amar-Suen included a genitive suffix /-ak/ and was most likely pronounced /amarsu'enak/ "the calf of Su'en".

5-7 In here ergative forms a special non-finite syntactic structure, i.e. mes-anne-pada
construction. Corresponds to Finnish participial phrase, e.g. "Enlilin nimelt kutsuma".
8

The word sa.s means literally 'to follow the head'.

8-9 These lines show a good example of the Sumerian genitive concatenation: enlil+ak
'Temple of Enlil' ~ sa.s enlil+ak+ak 'Caretaker of the temple of Enlil'.
14 The purpose of ergative marker /-e/ in an ub-da 4-ba-ke 4 is unclear to me, as the
predicate following it on line 17 nu-du-m seems to be a non-finite form /nu+d+a+m/
"gipar that has not been built". The ergative case is to be taken here as an introductory
subject for the whole text.
18 Because of the agentive prefix /-n-/ verb tl 'to live' is to be considered transitive, in
meaning "to dwell something; to live in". However the problem is, that the subject is not
marked with an ergative case marker /-e/.
19- Ergative case /-e/ here marks the subject..
20
22 Verb is to be read literally "he built for him". The agentive prefix /-n-/ is here omitted in
writing.
24 Verb is to be read literally "he entered for him there".
26 This is the only mar (present) verb in the text. In transitive present, prefixes /-n-/ and /b-/ denote to the object of the sentence unlike in present where they mark the subject.
The subject is marked here with a suffix /-e/. Verb is to be read "with it (the building
process) he lenghtens the days".
28 Compound verb a...ru means "to dedicate", literally "to impose seed/water".

Abbreviations
3AGE

/-n-/, /-e/ Singular 3rd person agentive verbal affix "by him"

3iOBJ

/-b-/ Singular 3rd person inanimate objective verbal prefix "it"

3iCOM

/-m.da-/ Singular 3rd person inanimate comitative prefix "with it"

3COP

/-am/ Singular 3rd person copula "he/it is". May also emphasize "truly".

3DAT

/-na-/ Singular 3rd person dative verbal prefix "for him"

3POSS

/-ani/ Singular 3rd person animate possessive suffix "his"

3iPOSS

/-bi/ Singular 3rd person inanimate possessive suffix "its"

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Aleksi Sahala: Translation and grammatical analysis of Sumerian text "UVB 10, pl. 28"

ABL

/-ta/ Ablative. Denotes motion out of something "from".

ABS

/-/ Absolutive. Object of transitive sentence, subject of intransitive s.

DAT

/-ra/ Dative. Marks an indirect object "for him".

ERG

/-e/ Ergative. Denotes subject of transitive sentence.

GEN

/-ak/ Genitive. Denotes possession "of".

LOC

/-ni-/, /-a/ Locative prefix or suffix "in there".

NEG

/nu-/ Negative prefix.

PP

/-a/ Past participle.

PREF

/-/ Neutral prefix. Denotes finite verb.

TER

/-/ Terminative case marker. Denotes movement towards something.

VENT

/mu-/ Ventive prefix. Denotes direction or completeness of action.

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