The Linguistic Position of Sumerian: Isolate or not? (Melammu Workshop 19)
From 25-26 May 2023, the Melammu Workshop 19 on the topic of "The Linguistic Position of Sumerian: Isolate or not?" took place in Innsbruck, organised by Simonetta Ponchia (Verona), Martin Lang (Innsbruck) and Sebastian Fink (Innsbruck). Since the decipherment of Sumerian in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the linguistic affiliation of Sumerian has been controversial. Sumerologists temporarily shelved this contentious issue, which was perceived as almost insoluble. In the last decades this led to mainly non-specialists putting forward language typological proposals. With the publication of the "Etymological Dictionary of the Sumerian Language" (2016-2022), the cuneiform researcher Simo Parpola (Helsinki) has taken up the older thesis of considering Sumerian as a Uralic language again. The conference attempts to bring the two disciplines of Sumerology and Uralic Studies into exchange with each other in order to advance the scientific efforts to further the solution of this problem.
As part of this conference, doctoral students from our doctoral college also gave two presentations, namely Noah Kröll on "Emesal as evidence for the linguistic position of Sumerian" and Alexander Steiner on "Terms of Spatial Perception and their Relevance for Linguistic Affiliation".