Analysing Literary Sumerian

Corpus-based Approaches

by Jarle Ebeling, University of OsloGraham Cunningham, University of Cambridge, (Volume Editors)

Ancient Worlds
Complete Collection

This book brings together pioneering studies on the world’s oldest literature, composed in the extinct language Sumerian and written on clay in the cuneiform (wedge-shaped) script. All the contributions are based on the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (ETCSL), a project of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University whose focus is on the best documented period of Sumerian literature, compositions recorded some 4,000 years ago in southern Iraq. The ETCSL consists of transliterations and translations of nearly 400 compositions and is accessible via the Internet. It is the only linguistically annotated and translated corpus of an ancient Near Eastern language.

Each of the main chapters in the book uses the ETCSL to approach a specific question relating to one or more compositions in the corpus, exploiting the possibilities the corpus offers for quantitative research and statistical analysis. In addition to these case studies, the book includes introductions to Sumerian literary language and corpus-linguistic approaches to research, as well as a catalogue of compositions. The material, methods, and results will appeal to those interested in Sumerian, ancient literature, and the analysis of languages using a corpus.

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