Sumerian language

Native toSumer and Akkad
RegionMesopotamia (modern-day Iraq)
EraAttested from c. 3000 BC. Effectively extinct from about 2000–1800 BC; used as classical language until about 100 AD.
Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform
Language codes
ISO 639-3sux
Sumerian 26th c Adab.jpg
26th century BC Sumerian document
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Sumerian (𒅴𒂠 EME.G̃IR15 "native tongue") is the language of ancient Sumer and a language isolate that was spoken in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) and in Syria.[4] During the 3rd millennium BC, an intimate cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians and the Semitic-speaking Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism.[5] The influence of Sumerian and the East Semitic language Akkadian on each other is evident in all areas, from lexical borrowing on a substantial scale, to syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence.[5] This has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian in the third millennium BC as a Sprachbund.[5]

Akkadian gradually replaced Sumerian as a spoken language around 2000 BC (the exact dating being subject to debate),[6] but Sumerian continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial, literary and scientific language in Akkadian-speaking Mesopotamian states such as Assyria and Babylonia until the 1st century AD.[7][8] Thereafter it was likely forgotten until the 19th century, when Assyriologists began deciphering the cuneiform inscriptions and excavated tablets left by these speakers.


The history of written Sumerian can be divided into several periods:

  • Archaic Sumerian – 31st–26th century BC
  • Old or Classical Sumerian – 26th–23rd century BC
  • Neo-Sumerian – 23rd–21st century BC
  • Late Sumerian – 20th–18th century BC
  • Post-Sumerian – after 1700 BC
This proto-literate tablet (c. 3100 – 2900 BC) records the transfer of a piece of land (Walters Art Museum, Baltimore)

Archaic Sumerian is the earliest stage of inscriptions with linguistic content, beginning with the Jemdet Nasr (Uruk III) period from about the 31st to 30th centuries BC. It succeeds the proto-literate period, which spans roughly the 35th to 30th centuries.

Some versions of the chronology may omit the Late Sumerian phase and regard all texts written after 2000 BC as Post-Sumerian.[9] The term "Post-Sumerian" is meant to refer to the time when the language was already extinct and preserved by Babylonians and Assyrians only as a liturgical and classical language for religious, artistic and scholarly purposes. The extinction has traditionally been dated approximately to the end of the Third Dynasty of Ur, the last predominantly Sumerian state in Mesopotamia, about 2000 BC. However, that date is very approximate, as many scholars have contended that Sumerian was already dead or dying as early as around 2100 BC, by the beginning of the Ur III period,[6][10] and others believe that Sumerian persisted, as a spoken language, in a small part of Southern Mesopotamia (Nippur and its surroundings) until as late as 1700 BC.[6] Whatever the status of spoken Sumerian between 2000 and 1700 BC, it is from then that a particularly large quantity of literary texts and bilingual Sumerian-Akkadian lexical lists survive, especially from the scribal school of Nippur. They and the particularly-intensive official and literary use of the language in Akkadian-speaking states during the same time call for a distinction between the Late Sumerian and the Post-Sumerian periods.

Other Languages
العربية: لغة سومرية
asturianu: Idioma sumeriu
azərbaycanca: Şumer dili
تۆرکجه: سومر دیلی
беларуская: Шумерская мова
български: Шумерски език
brezhoneg: Sumereg
català: Sumeri
Чӑвашла: Шумер чĕлхи
čeština: Sumerština
Cymraeg: Swmereg
davvisámegiella: Sumeragiella
español: Idioma sumerio
Esperanto: Sumera lingvo
euskara: Sumeriera
français: Sumérien
Frysk: Sûmearysk
한국어: 수메르어
հայերեն: Շումերերեն
hrvatski: Sumerski jezik
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa Sumeria
íslenska: Súmerska
italiano: Lingua sumera
עברית: שומרית
ქართული: შუმერული ენა
latviešu: Šumeru valoda
lietuvių: Šumerų kalba
Limburgs: Soemerisch
magyar: Sumer nyelv
македонски: Сумерски јазик
მარგალური: შუმერული ნინა
Nederlands: Soemerisch
Nordfriisk: Sumeerisk spriak
norsk: Sumerisk
norsk nynorsk: Sumerisk
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Shumer tili
português: Língua suméria
slovenčina: Sumerčina
slovenščina: Sumerščina
српски / srpski: Сумерски језик
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Sumerski jezik
suomi: Sumeri
svenska: Sumeriska
Türkçe: Sümerce
українська: Шумерська мова
Tiếng Việt: Tiếng Sumer
中文: 苏美尔语