2

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I cannot find anywhere that has a phonetic definition of the numbers.

  • 2
    Why would you? Do you pronounce the "MMXVII" year at the end of the movie, or just say "2017"? – T.E.D. Apr 11 '17 at 20:10
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    Yes... YOU would as an English speaking person. How did Sumerian's say, "2017"? In Rome they wouldn't say, "two thousand seventeen", they would say, "duo milia septemdecem". – SQLMason Apr 11 '17 at 20:16
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    Well, the question specifically asks how "you" would pronounce it. If you meant to ask how an ancient Sumerian would pronounce it, you should edit your question to ask that question... which is basically unanswerable, because how would anyone possibly know? There aren't any 4,000 year old Iraqis we could ask, and archaeological records do a poor job of preserving sound. – HopelessN00b Apr 11 '17 at 20:49
  • @HopelessN00b - I started to make the same point, then decided to just put it in an answer when it got large and started to demand links and formatting. It seemed as obvious to me as it looks like it did to you, but perhaps those not steeped in the mechanics of historical linguistics don't know that we can't figure out such things? – T.E.D. Apr 11 '17 at 21:10
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    We know how ancient Egyptians' sounded their words via the Coptic peoples. There are other languages which we have at least a good guess at what they sounded like event through they are long dead. The story of Egyptian hieroglyphs is quite entertaining. – SQLMason Apr 12 '17 at 4:24
10

Some, though not all, of the Sumerian numbers are known from syllabic spellings. There is an overview here

  • Good find! The reference is to a mathemetician's page, not a linguist, but he does appear to be an expert on the Babylonian number system. – T.E.D. Apr 12 '17 at 13:25
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    So, there might be an answer, somewhere? How about elevating this essentially 'link-only answer' to a proper one by quoting from that site you linked to? – LangLangC Aug 23 at 22:27
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    Please summarize. – Mark C. Wallace Aug 24 at 20:30
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Sumerian has been a dead language for nearly 4,000 years, and had no known linguistic descendants, predecessors, or relatives.

Its printed form was logographic, which means each word was represented by a symbol. So there's no phonological content to be gleaned from their writing either.

So we don't know for sure how any of it was pronounced.

  • I'm not entirely sure this is a subtle enough point to actually merit an answer, but I found I couldn't quite fit a good explanation into a comment. – T.E.D. Apr 11 '17 at 21:08
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    This answer is wrong. Sumerian uses a mixture of logographic and syllabic spellings. They also had lexicographic texts where the pronunciation of logograms is indicated syllabically. We know a lot about the pronunciation of Sumerian, but obviously not everything. – fdb Apr 11 '17 at 22:46
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I don't get the comment about how would you pronounce ancient sumerian? In English. That's not really a helpful answer.

Know it's already been linked, but this one explains the numbers and how they're cognate of other numbers. I think that's the reason it looks like some numbers are missing on lists.

The Language Gulper: Sumerian Language

  • Please don't down vote him. He answered instead of commented because of his low #, he couldn't comment. – SQLMason Aug 26 at 17:51

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