An Introduction to the Grammar of Sumerian
Author: Gábor Zólyomi
This textbook is the edited version of the teaching material used during my Sumerian classes. Its first version was prepared by Szilvia J¡ka-Svegj¡rt³ in 2012, while I was on sabbatical leave, and she kindly took over my classes. I am most grateful to Szilvia for her incentive, and for her help in preparing this version, especially the first lesson of the book. I also thank to Melinda Hagym¡ssy, who helped me in writing several of the exercises and provided important feedback on earlier versions of this work. I am grateful to my students (Fruzsina Nmeth, Bal¡zs Kiss, and GergÅ‘ Vajda), who visited my Sumerian grammar classes in the academic year of 2015/2016 and 2016/2017, for their help in improving this book.
This book is not intended to be a comprehensive grammar of Sumerian. For that purpose, one should study Bram Jagersmas magnificent work (2010). My experience as a teacher has been that for students of Sumerian, it is intimidating and frustrating to have to face so much uncertainties and vagueness when starting to learn Sumerian. One simply cannot see the forest for the trees because of that. I remember my first year as a student, when I had to read the Cylinders of Gudea together with advanced students; it took me months to figure out the basics. I had to rely on perplexing reference books without any didactic intention.
The present book attempts to present the forest first. Problems and uncertainties are left out or are mentioned only in the Further readings sections, descriptions are shortened on purpose; it pretends that Sumerian is a language whose basic grammatical rules may be learnt during the fourteen or so weeks of a semester. It has been made on the assumption that after decades of grammatical research it has become possible now to teach a general framework of Sumerian grammar that may function as the basis of further, more intensive and elaborate studies.