Archive for the ‘akkadian’ Category

I was going to sleep, but I’m still all smug about having written 25 pages today. 25 pages, guys(1).

Anyway, somewhere between page 16 and page 16 1/2 I took a break and read “Itineraries and travellers in the Middle Assyrian Period” by Betina Faist, from SAAB XV/2006, where I found the following edifying(2) quotes.

1) Having summed up various peculiarities of travel during the MA (Middle Assyrian) period, BF states:

“Finally, a brief mention is owed to aspects unattested so far. In the religious realm, we do not have any indications referring to pilgrimages to the important shrines.”

Tsk, tsk, Betina. Something obvious and self-evident in your culture doesn’t have to be obvious, self-evident, expected or even present at all in others. Take Introduction to Anthropology or something, plz.

2) Trying to tie-up things cutely — something I’m absolutely in favour of — Betina(3) quotes a 1755 letter of a Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, to his sister, Wilhelmine, who was very enthusiastic about her journey to Italy:

“…I have a very high regard of the beauty of Italy, her wonderful climate, her monuments, her past greatness as well as her modern buildings. …But I also believe the Italians to be great braggarts; they exaggerate the beauty and the value of their paintings, their statues, and a thousand things more. Everything is uno spavento, una maraviglia; big words that do not stir my ear more than would the noise of a turnspit [a kind of dog -Sendai]. …I believe if I saw Italy I should not always agree with the ciceroni, which would console me for my fatherland’s barrenness; otherwise, the comparison would be too humiliating for poor Germany…”

Aww, poor Germany.

(Done commiserating yet? Hurr hurr)

Anyway, what we have here is a typically occidental assumption that people actually mean what they say. The assumption is naturally based on the firm yet quaint conviction that people always do what they should do.

(Incidentally, this conviction also allows us to date the letter as having been written sometime before the French Revolution derp)

Anyway, it is perhaps useful to suggest to puzzled Frederick a better approach to understanding the confusingly enthusiastic Italian guides. Or, even, two approaches:

A) The guides are lying. They don’t in fact think that the Italian landscape is anything like anything they imagine a wonder to be; but they have to sell it somehow, hence the unscrupulous use of more florid turn of phrase. They do not in fact intend to communicate their honest opinion about anything at all, but rather say what they think a customer might want to hear.

B) From a pragmatic standpoint, calling something “a wonder” might mean much less to a native speaker of Italian than it would mean to a native speaker of German.

Both approaches would need testing, of  course.

This is all nerd jokes and useless pedantry, as  Frederick the Great’s couldn’t have possibly known anything about the 20th century developments in linguistics.

Betina, however, could have. Alas, directly following the Frederick the Great quote:

“Sources of that nature, relevant to the cultural aspect of travel, are completely absent from our material. Nevertheless, I can imagine Tukulti-Ninurta I reclined (sic) on his throne and musing in a similar way after having received the Egyptian delegation.”

Tsk, tsk, Betina. I recommend taking Introduction to Modern Linguistics.

Also: ah, the subtle difference between absolutism and enlightened absolutism hurr hurr de hurr(5).

Nonetheless, it was a very interesting read, not only because I immediately visualised Tukulti-Ninurta musing about his Vaterland.

Aw, it’s 3 am already, I can sleep n_n

(1) There are no words in any language I know for how smug I am. The smugness; it fills my entire room, oozes through windows, and gently slinks down onto the street; then rushes to left – towards the cathedral – or right – towards the Rhine, but then it gets worse still, but I can’t see anything, once it disappears behind the corner.

No words, srsly.

(2) I feel more edified than the cathedral today.

And the big one in Mainz, too.

(3) I’m terribly sorry (not), but the name “Betina” makes my wretched black little heart warm and gives me fuzzy feelings of malicious glee. I can’t not use the name. It is imperative that I use the name.

Betina, Betina, Betina~~~~~~~

I will not be stopped.

(5) For those of you who might be confused, a journey:

– in enlightened absolutism means going abroad and making a couple of sketches, preferably of ruins,

– in Tukulti-Ninurta’s “absolutism” would mean going abroad with an army and making a couple of conquests, preferably leaving behind only ruins.

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Nice things, as I said, which means,  I lazily use other person’s explanation instead of doing it myself ^^J

Voila:

And now, transliteration + translation:

It’s a very easy text, though!

(ed. Daniels, Bright, The World’s Writing Systems)

Hurr hurr hurr!

A guy from my Akkadian seminar translated “furious storms” as “furious mothers”, hurr hurr de hurr.

It’s true that Akkadian words for “mother” (ummu) and “storm, day” (ūmu) are quite similar, but then:

1. The word ūmu was written with a logogram that means ūmu(1).

2. Both words are sort of, I don’t know, basic.

3. The context was the list of terrifying demons and monsters that Tiamat created in order to defeat Marduk in Enūma eliš (don’t read the Wiki article. It’s as inaccurate and obsolete as it gets. Also, the Biblical account of creation is not based directly on Ee, FFS). So, in the end, it looked sort of like that:

The terrifying Scorpion-Man, the Bison-Man, the furious mothers

It was a v. gleeful moment.

(1) It’s a bit more complicated than that, because the character U4 + MU can be read as a) logogram U4 = ūmu + phonetic complement “mu” or b) syllabogram “u4”  + syllabogram “mu”, but still.

From Postgate’s review of Brigitte Menzel’s book about Assyrian temples(1):

“A study of the temples of Assyria is, like most things Neo-Assyriam, long overdue, and we are fortunate that Dr Menzel has undertaken this with the painstaking philological standards that we have come to expect of the Heidelberg students.”

Heh. Can you smell it? It’s the 19th century!

Also, from the article about “Assyrian Porsche”:

“Chikako Watanabe pointed out to me that the passage assigned under citation I to Tiglath-pileser is in fact from Assur-bel-kala’s Broken Obelisk (AKA 139:10), an error resulting from a homoioteleuton on my part.”

Aw. I can’t decide whether it’s more adorable or passive-aggressive(2).

Postgate, he’s such a dork! <3<3<3

 

(1) I NEEDED THAT BOOK WTF IS WROOOOONG WITH YOU LIBRARY I LOVE YOU AND YOU JUST ARGH T___T.

(2) Homoioteleuton.

Today’s rec is The Epic of Gilgamesh!

(There really should be a Wiki version in Akkadian. It’d edit that)

Anyway, because for me, the  joys I associate with reading Gilgamesh consisted mostly of:

1) trudging to and fro in the library with any and all of the twenty volumes of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary in my hands, on my back, in my pockets(1), and carefully balanced on my head,  and with Borger’s Assyrisch-Babylonische Zeichenliste dangling precariously in the steely yet loving embrace of my upper and lower jaw(2),

(Um. Please disregard the disturbing mental image)

2)finding stuff to fit into the lacunae in the original tablet,

3)crowing triumphantly for no reason at all,

4)consuming copious amounts of coffee,

it would be, I think, a good idea to just let a sane person speak his mind: here, PZ Myers on the awesomeness that is the Epic of Gilgamesh.

This is one of my favourite  Pharyngula post ever, by the way.

(1) Haha, NO.

(2) thank Darwin for pdf files! EVOLUTION! SYMBIOSIS!

1. YES I CAN HAS THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH FINALLY.

My book-sniffing skills turned out to be awesome after all(1)! I haven’t got the time today, so I’ve only read about 60 pages so far, but! Awesome!

I liked: the stuff about ultra-violet and primroses, and how Dawkins emphasises that creationism has a lot to do with complete and utter ignorance.

2. The “poor expats who can’t get used to live in their cruelly culturally different host country” meme is as robust as ever, but what about the ex-expats? I’m concerned!

This is because I spent 30 minutes being lost, because I forgot that “the first floor” means actually “second floor”. Or at least it would, if I were still in Japan.

Note to self: first floor is second, the real first floor is zero. Must concentrate moar.

Fail!

3. I have discovered the most ridiculous meme ever. How could I miss it before, I asked myself today, looking stupidly at pictures that will remain undisclosed for a couple of days, as I will be collecting evidence in the library.

Hint: fish and funny hats are involved.

Also, chariots.

(Well, a bit(2))

4. Apparently Claude Levi-Strauss died.

I… I have to say, I can’t really be upset, because until today I was sure he had died already.

So, in a way, when I went online, my worst fears were confirmed :( Thank you for fun times with Tristes Tropiques, Claude, and inspiring one of my favourite profs when he was young.

5. I have to confess: I’ve been having the urge to look for moar vaccine-deniers on the intertubes all the time lately(3). I’ll start posting when my hands will stop obeying me and continue typing on their own even when I sleep. SLEEEEP!

6. For all internet troll aficionados, a tragic news indeed: Tom Estes, the voluble pastor of the Hard Truth fame (?), seems to have deleted himself from the interwebs. I, for one, will be inconsolable for weeks to come, and I haven’t even broken the news to Dan yet :\ The last googlable post (a bit stale).  Google Cache to the rescue: he flounced ’cause “I’m no longer all that intrigued by Pharytales, or Helga’s Battle-ax, or the NotSoFreeThinker, and I think the reason for the that is because they are so repetitive in nature.  Basically what they do everyday is criticize rational Christians, and for a while it made me angry, then I found it amusing, but now it’s just tired.”

Tom also warns his faithful readers that he’s got two other blogs here and here. Stay tuned! Once an attention whore, always an attention whore.

(You can also follow his rants on Twitter:

NY Times’ Dowd is a super feminist, UNLESS it’s Obama is the one excluding women, than it’s okay. #tcot http://s.nyt.com/u/Waf

I laughed!)

Anyway, RIP, Hard Truth!

 

(1) Throw some ink at me. I could probably tell which genre it came from.

(2) The other bit is that I like the word “chariot”. Chariot!

(3) Shooting fish in a barrel much? And yet!

1. Via a Camels with Hammers commenter:

John’s Scalzi’s trip to the Creation Pseumuseum + photos. The post includes delightful scatological imagery, such as this:

The guy who built the temple, satisfied that it truly represents his beloved load of horseshit in the best possible light, then opens the temple to the public, to attract not only the already-established horseshit enthusiasts, but possibly to entice new people to come and gaze on the horseshit, and to, well, who knows, admire its moundyness, or the way it piles just so, to nod in appreciation of the rationalizations for its excellence or to clap in delight and take pictures when an escaping swell of methane causes the load of horseshit to sigh a moist and pungent sigh.

Yes, please. I might have to pick up his books one day, after all.

Also, creationist commenters and their typically overblown dramatics:

274. John Scalzi on 13 Nov 2007 at 9:43 pm
Joe:

“Re: the Ark and Dinosaurs isn’t big a deal when you realize that the DInosaurs didn’t have to be full grown to be on the Ark.”

I’m sorry, I’m getting the giggles again, here.

275. Joe on 13 Nov 2007 at 9:54 pm
John, to think, my mom told me I wasn’t funny. I guess she was wrong. Put a gun to my head and tell me to renounced Christianity or you’d shoot me…Pull the trigger because I am not doing that. It isn’t because I am stubborn..trust me, I don’t like being shot at, it’s because I fear God, not man.

Heh heh. The evil Scalzi, shooting poor persecuted creationists in the head again. Which makes a little sense, after all, since it’s not like they use them all that much anyway. I bet he also had Christian-baby-porridge for breakfast!

(Commenter number 300 also claims that Scalzi is so mean, because he’s just like Ann Coulter, heh heh. Heh heh!)

(A few comments down, Joe also proudly announces that he 1) never met Pascal, 2) gambling’s not for him. I’d think TROLL TROLL TROLL, only Poe’s law)

Also, I’d like to maybe repeatedly emphasise that there are 101 photos. With captions. Go, now!

2. A truly bizarre article about the oppression of women in fundamentalist regimes. On the one hand, it raises several important points, on the other:

The use of women’s naked bodies to market commercial products in the West is merely another application of the idea that women are commodities. Anyone who visits the redlight district in Amsterdam can see for himself how wretched prostitutes, completely naked, are lined up behind glass windows so that passers-by can inspect their charms before agreeing on the price. Isn’t that a modern-day slave market, where women’s bodies are on sale to anyone willing to pay?

Yeah, right. Because being oppressed by men with political and religious power is just like deciding to be a sex-worker.

I’m not saying everything is legal and perfect in the blessed land of socialism and sexual permissiveness, and that there’s no human trafficking and that sort of stuff. It’s just that apples and oranges, dude.

What’s also quite disturbing is how women/feminists/activists who are supposedly against the sex industry and pornography for the sake of the women always end up blaming the sex-workers anyway, and not maybe suggesting the logical solution, which would be “so let’s convince people that paying for sex is uncool or something“. Because, seriously, demand and supply, dudes!

3. My Randroid special this week: how the Market (blessed be His name) works when nobody’s looking.

4. Twitter novel. The Japanese, of course, have been there first.

5. WTF is wrong with this dictionary? It should come with trigger warnings D:

6. Concordat Watch‘s got stuff on the creepiest of concordats out there. Like the one in Dominican Republic:

Back in 1954 the dictator, Trujillo, concluded a concordat with the Vatican which is still in force. On 11 July 2006 representatives of the Dominican Republic’s more than 1,600 Protestant churches filed an appeal against this concordat with the Dominican Supreme Court (SCJ). They claimed that it is unconstitutional. However, over two years later on 22 October 2008 the Supreme Court upheld the concordat. In its ruling it states that although the State assumes the obligation to teach the Catholic religion and moral education in elementary and secondary public schools, in no way prohibits that education by another religion in their establishments, nor has evidence been contributed that demonstrates that this has been prevented by virtue of what is agreed to in the Concordat.

No to mention the outrageous one in Cote d’Ivoire.

7. I’m reading MerodachBaladan‘s kudurru! Posts about Assyrian/Biblical propaganda coming soon, yay!

8. ALSO, I CAN HAS A LEXICAL LIST ZOMD. (They look like that, but mine is smaller and much harder on the eyes. Ow!)