The Grammar of Perspective

The Sumerian Conjugation Prefixes as a System of Voice


The so-called Sumerian conjugation prefixes are the most poorly understood and perplexing elements of Sumerian verbal morphology. Approaching the problem from a functional-typological perspective and basing the analysis upon semantics, Professor Woods argues that these elements, in their primary function, constitute a system of grammatical voice, in which the active voice is set against the middle voice. The latter is represented by heavy and light markers that differ with respect to focus and emphasis. As a system of grammatical voice, the conjugation prefixes provided Sumerian speakers with a linguistic means of altering the perspective from which events may be viewed, giving speakers a series of options for better approximating in language the infinitely graded spectrum of human conceptualization and experience.

"Woods is to be commended for establishing a new precedent for analyzing Sumerian grammar which will hopefully become a model for future studies of the language."
Paul Delnero, Johns Hopkins University

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Biographical Note
Christopher Woods, Ph.D. (2001) in Assyriology, Harvard University, is associate Professor at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. His research interests include Sumerian language and writing, and early Mesopotamian religion, literature, and history.
Table of contents
Chapter One Introduction
Chapter Two Linguistic Background—Voice and Related Notions
Chapter Three mu-
Chapter Four imma-
Chapter Five ba-
All of those intrested in the languages of the ancient Near East, particularly those who deal with primary sources written in Sumerian; the book may also be of interest to general linguists and typologists.
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