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Language Log

Monday, Jul. 23, 2012 - 6:44 a.m.

I should have looked at the footnote sooner!

"Values transcribed in lower-case roman would have been used for both syllabic Akkadian writing and logographically, italicized values would have been used only in syllabic writing, and values in small capitals are only logograms or hypothetical values that are never found in context."

Of course!
And there might be up to seven of these values for any given symbol. Some in lower-case roman, some in italics, and some in small caps.

Those Akkadian scholars were really masochistic, or really dedicated to the project of maintaining control over writing technology. Not much danger of this system leaking out amongst the populace. This is why you don't see Akkadian graffiti*.

*[I have no idea whether anyone's found any Akkadian graffiti. I made that up because it sounded good. But it's entirely plausible.]

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