Learn Sumerian with this Simple Sumerian Grammar
30 Simplified Sumerian Lessons
Why Learn Sumerian
The ability to read Sumerian puts the power to unlock the secrets of humanity’s ancient past into your hands.
As you probably know, mainstream academics are currently the arbiters of human history. When you can read Sumerian, you no longer have to rely on the word of scholars.
And despite what the priests of academia would have you believe; amateurs and the self-taught have been making major discoveries throughout history.
Examples of Amazing Amateurs and Self-Taught ‘Scholars’:
Heinrich Schliemann—a self-taught archeologist—discovered Troy; a city which scholars said didn’t exist.
Clyde Tombaugh—an amateur astronomer—discovered Pluto.
Ignaz Semmelweis—an amateur physician—made breakthrough discoveries in hygiene and infection control (aka handwashing).
Joseph Henry—a self-taught scientist—made invaluable contributions in electromagnetism helped paved the way for modern telecommunications.
And, of course, George Smith—a self-taught Assyriologist—discovered and translated the Flood Tablet from the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Decentralization of information aside, studying any language allows you to connect to a culture on a deeper spiritual level!
About this Simple Sumerian Grammar
Written for Beginners and Non-Linguists
Most Sumerian grammars are written by academics and are so full of linguistic terminology and historical references, they’re rendered almost unreadable by the novice. While these works are absolutely necessary, to be celebrated—and READ—they can deter people new to studying languages.
While I’m not a linguist in the official sense, I am a proud polyglot. I’ve studied and acquired various levels of fluency in Latin, Italian, Spanish, German, Gaelic, Japanese, Russian, and you guessed it—Sumerian! Since my reasons for studying Sumerian are spiritual, I take my continued mastery of this ancient language extremely seriously!
All the information provided in this simple Sumerian grammar is straight out of the scholarly material! I’ll provide links to more detailed grammars in case you want to go into further depth. However, I still recommend going through all 30 lessons of this simplified grammar, as the detailed versions will make so much more sense!
What You'll Learn
This easy Sumerian grammar will allow you to read transliterated Sumerian texts, or even translate cuneiform texts yourself!
While we won’t be focusing on reading cuneiform in this grammar, completing all thirty Sumerian lessons will make it so much easier to start reading the ancient script, as you’ll immediately be able to apply your phonological and grammatical knowledge to the pictographic signs!
NOTE: You will be learning basic cuneiform in this grammar. However, the script varies WIDELY by period, which is why I say it’s not going to be our focus. You will absolutely be getting comfortable with the standard unicode cuneiform signs throughout these lessons.
Sumerian Grammar Lesson Layout
Before we get too far into each lesson, I’ll provide a simple summary about what the lesson entails in case you want to jump around (although I don’t recommend it).
While this is certainly a stripped-down version of the Sumerian grammars an aspiring Sumerologist might use, we will still use proper grammatical and historical terms which you can refer back to. I’ll also put a complete Glossary of Terms in the Appendix.
The following are grammatical terms and their abbreviations you’ll encounter. You don’t need to memorize these right now! I definitely recommend familiarizing yourself with them ahead of time!
hamţu: an Akkadian (Akk.) word meaning quick that describes a perfective verb; that is a completed action.
imperfective (imperf.): a form of a verb that shows an action in progress or has not yet been completed.
infix: a particle in the form of a syllable, vowel, or consonant within the verbal chain that provides additional meaning about the sentence.
marû: an Akkadian (Akk.) word meaning fat or slow that describes an imperfective verb; that is, an unfinished or ongoing action.
perfective (perf.): a form of a verb that shows a completed or finished action.
verbal chain: a string of prefixes, infixes, and suffixes attached to a verb to provide additional information about the action.
I’ll provide a list of vocabulary words and phrases which you’ll encounter in each lesson. I’ll also include Sumerian to English Dictionary.
While the vocabulary section lists stripped-down definitions, the Online Sumerian Dictionary contains ALL possible meanings you’re likely to encounter in your Sumerian language journey!
The more exposure you have to the plethora of meanings of Sumerian words and sounds, the faster you’ll master the language!
This is when the real lesson begins! Remember to take your time and have fun!
After each lesson, we’ll do a quick re-cap to ensure you’ve retained the main points.
At the end of each lesson, I’ll provide you a variety of exercises and an accompanying answer key to help drive the information home!
How to Get the Most Out of This Simple Sumerian Grammar
Don't Skip Around
While you might want to skip forward to get some pre-exposure to the information, I don’t recommend skipping lessons entirely. Each Sumerian lesson builds on the next, and you can easily get confused and overwhelmed if key elements are overlooked.
Not only that, but the lessons and exercises become more difficult over time, so you’ll want to give yourself the best opportunity to learn and retain the information!
NOTE: LESSON 1 IS THE HARDEST!!! I went out of my way to be as thorough as possible so that every subsequent lessons seems easier by comparison! You’re welcome!
Try to Do At Least one Lesson a Day
Obviously, this doesn’t apply until I get all 30 lessons posted… but while these Sumerian language lessons are simple and relatively short, I recommend doing one lesson a day for 30 days.
This will give you time to master the material in each lesson before moving on. However, if you’re a binge-learner like me, feel free to do as many lessons in one sitting as you can. Just be sure to stop if you get overwhelmed. You can always come back to it the following day after your brain has had some rest!
Take the Exercises Slowly
In my experience, the more time you take translating Sumerian, the more likely you are to retain the information. Be sure not to rush the exercises at the end of each lesson.
Some general life advice: If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong! Learning can and should be enjoyable. If you’re truly meant to learn Sumerian, you’ll probably love every minute of it!