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Author Topic: Cuneiform  (Read 2613 times)

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Offline ZeitgeistTopic starter

Cuneiform
« on: December 05, 2011, 06:45:57 PM »
As you may know, Cuneiform is the name given to the written language, among others, the Babylonians. The particular script underwent changes over time but is I believe generally know today as Cuneiform.

Question is, how might one describe or even give name to this particular style of writing without using the word, presumably a modern word, Cuneiform.

Babylonians themselves didn't call it that, and its not really clear if they called it anything, or had a particular name for it.

But in the context of a story set in those times, how might you describe it, or name it? Not necessarily looking for something precise and historically accurate, only something plausible and creative.

Say for example a priestess' robe, trimmed with characters of Cuneiform?

Thoughts?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuniform

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Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2011, 06:47:57 PM »
Can you go for simplicity here? Since the Babylonians only had one language (prior to the curse), I would likely, indeed, speak of The Language, The Letter/Scribble.

Offline ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2011, 06:58:37 PM »
Can you go for simplicity here? Since the Babylonians only had one language (prior to the curse), I would likely, indeed, speak of The Language, The Letter/Scribble.

Hmmm, not sure what you mean, though I could be over thinking it.

Offline jouzinka

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Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2011, 07:05:00 PM »
They didn't use more than one script. So... I'd simply go for calling the signs The Script/Scribble/Sign. ;)

Offline Cecilia

Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2011, 07:05:50 PM »
If I were from that time,  I would look at the tablet and see it as "the language"  Or, perhaps, if I weren't particularly schooled, I would look at it and know that it was the tablet of clay the scholars used but maybe not what it was called, and very few people would likely be able to understand it, right?  Given that it's pretty pictoral, I would think a lay person would look at it with a certain sense of amusement or awe that it meant something.  Certainly you could make up any name you want for it.

Offline ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2011, 07:10:10 PM »
Yes, I think variations on script fits well enough.

script , scription, scrivenery, scrivening

Offline Vekseid

Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2011, 07:22:04 PM »
Chinese called theirs 'letters' or 'characters', loosely translated (Hanzi). Like Sumerian cuneiform, Chinese glyphs also evolved until their standardization, were widely exported, and used across successive generations of spoken languages.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2011, 08:55:08 PM »
Possibly something like 'the marks of the scribes/priests/[insert learned class here]'?

Offline Vekseid

Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2011, 10:07:26 PM »
Well, like many Mediterranean scripts, cuneiform writing began as a method of accounting. If it was named for the profession/caste that originally used it I'm not sure how long that would last.

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Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2011, 11:25:09 PM »
The robes of the priestess were given power and presence by the tracings of the many sygals that decorated the edges of the garment and spelled out the names of the gods who ruled them.

The word works for me to describe a rune-like series of symbols for a written language.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2011, 11:36:26 PM »
I thought it was spelled sigil?

It's still Latin, though. *ducks*

Offline ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2011, 11:36:50 PM »
The robes of the priestess were given power and presence by the tracings of the many sygals that decorated the edges of the garment and spelled out the names of the gods who ruled them.

The word works for me to describe a rune-like series of symbols for a written language.

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Offline Missy

Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2011, 11:41:33 PM »
I would have guessed 'pictographs', but there are plenty of good suggestions here.

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Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2011, 11:41:59 PM »
I thought it was spelled sigil?

It's still Latin, though. *ducks*
I couldn't figure out the correct spelling and sygal just looked special.  Thank you for 'sigil,' Veks.  *hugs*

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Offline Vandren

Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2011, 11:02:13 AM »
Well, like many Mediterranean scripts, cuneiform writing began as a method of accounting. If it was named for the profession/caste that originally used it I'm not sure how long that would last.

While cuneiform was originally used for accounting, the people using it were the priests (e.g. the ones who had free time and could develop such things).  Most of the "merchant class" (not that such a thing existed then) were using pictograms, which are different.

Just to clarify that cuneiform and pictograms/pictographs are different things (as are runes, which are an alphabetic writing system).

Akkadian cuneiform


A pictograph system
« Last Edit: December 06, 2011, 11:04:09 AM by Vandren »

Offline Haibane

Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2011, 07:55:46 AM »
Yes, I think variations on script fits well enough.

script , scription, scrivenery, scrivening
"Writing" ?

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Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2011, 10:41:09 PM »
"Runes" would fit I think. To us it denotes a particular kind of script (the one used by the Vikings and old Scandinavians) but the sense really is /sacred/ lettering. And early writing in any culture would have been thought of as sacred, awe-inspiring and imbued with power even when it wasn't being read - even when used by someone who didn't ostensibly hold a sacred office. And anyway, in these early high cultures, the limit between sacred and non-sacred was likely never a firm one.

Offline Vandren

Re: Cuneiform
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2011, 06:16:16 AM »
"Runes" would fit I think. To us it denotes a particular kind of script (the one used by the Vikings and old Scandinavians) but the sense really is /sacred/ lettering.

The "sacredness" of the lettering depends on its usage (at least in Anglo-Saxon society, the runic script and society I've studied the most).  In much the same way that Egyptian heiroglyphs were deemed "sacred", depending on their usage.  To the early king or pharaoh, the annual tax records were not sacred writing (I'm working off of Saxon primary sources here), despite being written in the runic or heiroglyphic script; however, the writing on a tomb wall or legal document would be "sacred" to both regardless of the script (heiroglyphic, alphabetic, etc.) that was used.

Basically, the terms "rune" or "runic" in and of themselves do not necessarily imply "sacred" (except insofar as a lot of modern viewers assume that runes are implicitly sacred because they are "strange", "mysterious", unfamiliar, and used by several modern pagan sects).  Yes, the default explanation for runic writing on objects is religious, but an archaeologist's default explanation for anything they don't understand is "it was used for religious purposes" (I hang out with a bunch of archaeologists, this is one of their most common jokes).