Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pardon me, but is that Akkadian you're speaking?

Today's post probably falls under the category of "useless fun facts" for most readers, but it's really quite fascinating. If you have ever seen ancient cuneiform inscriptions, like the one pictured to the left, you might have wondered how anyone could make sense of the confusing array of symbols. How did someone first translate these inscriptions? And what might such a language have sounded like?

If you have questions, Dr. Martin Worthington from the University of Cambridge has answers! He is leading a team of scholars who are reading and recording ancient Babylonian texts and poems and posting them online. The language being spoken is Akkadian, and it sounds a bit like its more modern Semitic cousin, Arabic. You can also view a transliteration--and translation--of the texts while you listen. This helps give a sense of the natural rhythm and pacing of the language.

Some of the texts already recorded include portions of the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Babylonian Poem of the Righteous Sufferer, and the Law Code of Hammurabi. If you are interested in "hearing" more about this fascinating project, click here!

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