January 15, 2004

Translating Elvis into Sumerian

Posted at January 15, 2004 12:49 PM in .
From http://www.helsinki.fi/science/saa/sumercd.html
"I must admit translating Elvis into Sumerian was not easy, but it was an interesting experience, and I learned a lot in the process. The main difficulty was lexical: because of the great distance in time and hence differences in culture -- Sumerian became extinct as a spoken language about 1800 BC -- it was difficult to find Sumerian equivalents for certain modern concepts and words. For example, the Sumerians of course didn't have nylon socks, so I had to improvise and made it "cotton boots," šuhub gu. (I resolutely resisted the temptation to take the easy road and use modern words as loan words in Sumerian, which would have ruined the whole experiment). It took me some time to solve this problem, because there does not exist a dictionary where you could simply look these things up. The only modern dictionary of Sumerian, the Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary, ed. Å. Sjöberg (Sumerian-English, not English-Sumerian!), has not yet advanced beyond the letters A and B!"

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