• Nem Talált Eredményt

The copula functioning as focus marker

In copular clauses, the constituent next to the copula is mostly the predicate complement. The order of the predicate complement and the S may, however, sometimes be inverted, as in the second clause of ex. (160) below.

(160) Gudea Cyl. A 3:6 (Lagash, 22nd c.) (ETCSL 2.1.7)

ama nu-tuku-me

PC[ama nu-tuku-ø]=me-en

PC[mother NEG-have-TL]=COP-1.SG.S

ama-ŋu₁₀ ze₂-me

PC[ama-ŋu=ø] S[ze=ø]=me-en

PC[mother=1.SG.POSS=ABS] S[2.SG.PR=ABS]=COP-2.SG.S

“I am someone who has no mother, my mother is you (and no one else).”

Copular clauses with an inverted word order do not predicate a property about a  referential S. Such clauses do something fundamentally different; they exhaustively identify the referent of a description by naming it. So, in ex. (160) the description “my mother” is identified as “you” (and no one else). The S next

Non-verbal predication and other uses of the copula

to the copula functions thus as the identificational focus of the copular clause, i.e., “[i]t indicates that the focus denotation is the only one that leads to a true proposition” (Krifka 2007: 33). Copular clauses like the second one in ex. (160) are called specificational in linguistics.

Ex. (161) below is a  copular biclausal construction in which the initial copular clause is specificational. The shared participant is “I”, which is referred to by a pronominal suffix in S14 of the finite verb in the second clause.

Copular biclausal constructions in which the copular clause is specificational are to be translated and interpreted as cleft clauses. The constituent next to the copula, see exx. (161) and (162), or a subconstituent of the constituent next to the copula, see ex. (163) below, functions as the identificational focus of the clause.

(161) Hoe and Plough 147 (ETCSL 5.3.1)

ŋe26-e-me-en mu₂-sar-ra a bi₂-ib₂-sig₁₀-sig₁₀-ge-en

S[ŋe=ø]=me-en musar=ʾa a=ø S5b-S10i-S11b-S12sig~sig-S14en

S[1.SG.PR=ABS]=COP-1.SG.S plot=L2.NH water=ABS 3.SG.NH-L2-3.SG.NH.P-put~PL-1.SG.A

“It is me who puts water in all the plots.”

(162) Gudea Cyl. A 13:2 (Lagash, 22nd c.) (ETCSL 2.1.7) siki udu gan-na-kam

“(He undid the tongue of the goad and the whip;) it was wool from lamb-bearing sheep that he placed instead in all hands”.

In ex. (163) below the constituent next to the copula is the noun phrase udu=ŋu=ø(sheep=1.SG.POSS=ABS) “my sheep”. From the context, however, it is clear, that the focus is in fact its subconstituent, the enclitic possessive pronoun

=/ŋu/“my”, as Turam-ili intends to defend himself against accusations that he has given someone else’s sheep to Sulalum.

(163) NG 138 rev. 7 (Umma, 21st c.) (P200731)

udu-ŋu₁₀-um ṣu₂-la-lum-ra in-na-šum₂

S[udu=ŋu=ø]=am-ø ṣulalum=ra S2i-S6nn-S7a-S11ʾ-S12šum-S14ø

S[sheep=1.SG.POSS=ABS]=COP-3.SG.S PN=DAT.H FIN-3.SG.H-DAT-1.SG.A-give-3.SG.P

“(Turam-ili declared:) ‘I gave MYsheep to Sulalum.”



Further readings

For a detailed description of all uses of the copula in Sumerian see now Zólyomi 2014c.

For similative and equative constructions in Sumerian see Sövegjártó 2011.


8.1 Look up the new words used in the examples of this lesson in Foxvog’s (2016b) or Volk’s (2012) glossary, and learn them.

8.2 Study the examples of this lesson carefully and make yourself familiar with their grammatical analysis.

8.3 Translate with the help of Foxvog’s (2016b) or Volk’s (2012) glossary, and assign morphemic segmentation and glossing to the following examples.

a) iriki-ba, dšu-dsuen, diŋir-be₂-em b) da-du maškim-be₂-em

c) (S = “you”)

dnin-lil₂-la₂ ḫi-li šag₄-ga-na-me-en d) (S = “you”)

en za-e-me-en lugal za-e-me-en e) (A = “he”)

mer₃-ra-ga-ši-ir, dumu nibruki-kam, ur-sag₉-ga, ḫa-mu-na-šum₂-mu

f) (A of the finite clause = “I”)

sipad-me e₂ mu-du₃

g) (A of the finite clause = “it” [= the Eninnu temple])

dutu-am₃ an-šag₄-ge im-si

h) (A of the finite clause = “he” [= king Shulgi])

ŋešmeš₃ zid-dam kurun₃ kug mu-un-il₂ i) (A of the finite clause = “I”)

ab-ba-kal-la ur-meš₃-ra ŋe₂₆-e-me ḫa-na-šum₂

Non-verbal predication and other uses of the copula

8.4 Translate the following clauses into Sumerian. Provide only the morphemic segmentation and glossing.

a) At that time Gudea was the ruler of Lagash.

b) As for Ningirsu, the ruler is a man of his heart.

c) I, the king, built the great temple of my mighty gods.

d) Who are you?

e) Ningirsu was the mighty god of Gudea, ruler of Lagash.

f) The ruler of Lagash is you.

g) They are the seven royal judges.

h) She was kind.

i) She is not my wife.

j) You are not the king of Ur.

k) He is not the king of Ur.

l) They are not the citizen of Ur either.

m) Of his temple, Ningirsu is its god.

n) Like a donkey, he carried gold.

8.5 Analyse and translate the following excerpt from a literary text with the help of Foxvog’s (2016b) or Volk’s (2012) glossary. Add the missing morphemic glossing to the lines. Explain the use of the various kinds of copular clauses and of the independent pronouns.

(164) Enmerkar and En-suhgir-ana 276–280 (ETCSL

za-e-me-en en ki aŋ₂

S[ze=ø]=me-en PC[en ki=ø aj-ø

dinana-me-en inanak=ak=ø]=me-en

dili-zu-ne₂ maḫ-me-en dili=zu=ne PC[maḫ-ø=ø]=me-en

dinana-ke₄ ur₂ kug-ga-ne₂-še₃ zid-de₃-eš inanak=e ur kug=ane=še zid-ø=eš

mu-un-pad₃-de₃-en ki ⸢aŋ2-ŋa2⸣-ne₂-me-en

S4mu-S11n-S12pad-S14en PC[ki=ø aŋ-ø=ane=ø]=me-en sig-ta igi-nim-še₃ en gal-be₂ za-e-me-en sig=ta iginim=še PC[en gal=be=ø] S[ze=ø]=me-en ŋe26-e us₂-sa-zu-me-en,

S[ŋe=ø] PC[us-ʾa=zu=ø]=me-en LESSON8


a ru-a-ta gaba-ri-zu nu-me-en

a=ø ru-ʾa=ta PC[gabari=zu=ø] S1nu-S2i-S12me-S14en

šeš gal za-e-me-en

PC[šeš gal-ø=ø] S[ze=ø]=me-en

ŋe₂₆-e nu-mu-da-sa₂-e-en ud da-ri2-še3

S[ŋe=ø] S1nu-S4mu-S6e-S8da-S12sa-S14en ud dari=še

Non-verbal predication and other uses of the copula


This lesson describes the formal means used to distinguish the preterite and present-future tense in Sumerian. It also discusses the prefix of anteriority /u/

in S1, because of the prefix’s role in expressing the relative time of the verbal event in Sumerian.