Introduction to Akkadian

This entry is taken from my old blog and was originally written in 2009.

Read a blog entry introducing the Akkadian/Assyrian language here.

I am currently reading "Introduction to Akkadian", fourth edition, by Richard Caplice. I have another book about the language but it assumes that the reader learns Cuneiform quickly and I am not going to do that.

What I noticed immediately was how many words are very similar to (if not in many cases simply the same as) Hebrew words. The grammar is similar too. But let's look at the words first.

The book presents some vocabulary in each chapter and in the first chapter explains that words in the "status rectus", the word state in which nouns are declined, usually have suffixes for cases including "-um" (ום) for the nominative.

The words are given in Latin letters and occasionally in the text in Cuneiform but I transliterate them into Hebrew for easier reading. (I am assuming Alef for "a" or "e" vowel at end of words as in Aramaic.)

I will also write words with and without matres lectionis (vowel letters) so as to demonstrate both pronunciation and relationship to Hebrew words which have different vowels.

Unfortunately the difference between Alef and Ayin is not represented in the Latin script, so I will assume Alef unless Ayin makes obvious sense. A similar problem exists for Taw and Tet.

Other Latin transliteration I use:

ts for Tsadi (emphatic s)

ch for Het (voiceless pharyngeal fricative)

3 for Ayin (voiced pharyngeal fricative)

ana (אנא): to

arnum (ארנום): sin, crime, punishment

ashrum (אשרום): place

ashum (אשום): because of, concerning, because

awilum (אווילום): man

bitum (ביתום): house; Hebrew - bayit (בית)

bitatum (ביתתום): houses; Hebrew - batim (בתים)

dannum (דנום), danatum (דנתום): strong, powerful (male and female)

erretum (ארתום): curse, malediction

ezzum (אזום or עזום): angry

gitmalum (גיתמלום): perfect, noble

ilum (איל or אל): god; Hebrew - el (אל)

ilu (אילו or אלו) or ilanu (אילנו or אלנו): gods; Hebrew - elim (אלים): gods.

ina (אינא): in, among, from within, with (instrumental)

ishatum (אישתום or אשתום): fire

(A feminine version of Hebrew esh (אש): fire.)

ishtu (אישתו or אשתו): from

kabtum (כבתום): heavy, honoured, important (person)

kadrum (כדרום): wild, fierce

kima (כימא or כמא): as, like, as, that, when; Hebrew - kamo (כמו): like.

machrum (מחרום): front

(This is perhaps related to macher (מחר): tomorrow.)

martsum (מרצום): sick, difficult, painful

nishu (נישו or נשו): people; Hebrew - anashim (אנשים)

pushqum (פושקום): difficulty

rabum (רבום): great; Hebrew - rav (רב)

(The word "rabbi" derives hence.)

rimum (רימום): wild bull

safum (ספום): scattered

shanum (שנום): second, other; Hebrew - shini (שני)

sharum (שרום): king

(This is certainly related to Hebrew sarah (שרה): princess.)

tamcharum (תמחרום or טמרחום): battle

ummum (אומום or אמום): mother; Hebrew - ima (אמא): mother.

wardum (ורדום): slave, servant

washtum (ושתום or ושטום): difficult, hard, fierce

zikarum (זכרום): male, man; Hebrew - zekher (זכר): male.

(Continuation: Lesson 2)

 © Andrew Brehm 2016