Translation, transliteration and cuneiform

Perhaps I will change this later, but I am not planning on teaching cuneiform. The aim of this site is Sumerian grammar. After understanding the grammar, using cuneiform will be much easier for you. For the sake of simplicity I will be using the following conventions: Periods "." between signs denotes the grammatical elements are being shown. That is, this is not how the Sumerians wrote it, but it is the "basic" forms unaffected by vowel assimilation. Dashes "-" between signs denote that the words are being written as they would be written in Sumerian, however transliterated into Latin characters. Allow me to illustrate and example:

Do you see how it is written "lugal-la" but is grammatically "lugal.ak"? This will be covered later, but put simply, when "ak" falls at the end of a word, it drops the "k". Additionally, Sumerian words follow syllables, so instead of writting it "lugal-a" the consonant is added, resulting in "lugal-la". This is a general rule for writting the language, but there are exceptions.

Next let's address how writing treats lone vowels and consonants. There is a grammatical element "e-ne" (.ene), and we will use it as an example:

"Vowel harmony": Older writing in the southern regions of Sumeria used this concept, while the north never used it. As time passed, this concept would be lost in the south as well. The concept states that the vowel in the root determines the vowel used in grammatical elements that start with a consonant. I will show a table and examples below:

Root's vowel Vowel in grammatical element
"a" or "e" e
"i" or "u" "i"

Let's use the grammatical element "še" with some nouns, again, just to show how it works so I won't translate.

pad -> pad-še     e -> ee

gi -> gii           tuš -> tuš-ši

What do numbers beside signs mean?

Notice above how the sign for "house", e2, has the number "2" beside it. This is because many sounds and syllables can have multiple signs represent that same sound. So, if there is an "e2", there is also an "e" or "e1". Certain signs, despite having the same sound phonetically, represent different words logographically. In our example, e2 means "house". e1 (called "e") can mean "barley" or just be the generic "e" sound. Here are some signs "e" can take:

What do superscripts beside signs mean?

Ah, I see you've checked out the ePSD/ePSD2 or been looking at Sumerian transliterations. Cuneiform can be a tad ambiguous at times, and ancient scribes came up with a solution. Since certain signs can represent objects/concepts, if you write the name of an object and then put the sign for what type of object it is beside it, you can know for sure what it is the writing is describing. In English, we have the term "Oak" and "Oaktree". Imagine if instead of writing "tree" we simply drew a picture of a tree beside the word "Oak" so you know that "Oak" is a type of tree. This is similar. I will show some examples below:

It is important to note that these discriptors are not pronounced, they are only written as an aide to the scribe. So the question becomes, how do we know the difference between "ŋešarmanu" and "ŋeš-armanu"? The answer is that we don't. It's totally based off of context. Either way, this doesn't effect the translations too much. "Cut down an armanu" is quite similar to "cut down an armanu-tree".