From Logogram to Phonogram: A Sumero-Japanese Comparison – University of Copenhagen

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From Logogram to Phonogram: A Sumero-Japanese Comparison

Public lecture by Dr. Fumi Karahashi, Chuo University, Tokyo

Sumerian is the first language written in Mesopotamia around 3200 BCE. Its writing system is originally logographic and many of its logographic signs gradually acquired phonetic functions: e.g., a “water” was used for the bound morpheme -a indicating the locative. An analogous process can be observed in Japanese writing system in which logographic Chinese characters (kanji) were used as phonetic symbols (Man’yōgan) to write seventh-century Japanese. This lecture will give an overview of these processes in Sumerian and Japanese.

Time: 23 February 2018, 15:15
Venue: University of Copenhagen, Southern Campus, room 5B.1.8


Fumi Karahashi (PhD University of Chicago, 2000) is an Associate Professor of Ancient Oriental Studies at Chuo University in Tokyo. She has worked on Sumerian grammar, literature, and economy. Her PhD dissertation on Sumerian compound verbs with body parts is still a standard in Sumerology, which still lacks a proper dictionary. Fumi has previously been a visiting professor of the University of Michigan and held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania.

The talk is organized by the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies in collaboration with ADI.

All are welcome!