Akkadian language


Akkadian language
or Assyro-Babylonian language

Semitic language spoken in Mesopotamia in the 3rd–1st millennia BC.

It is known from a great many inscriptions, seals, and clay tablets in cuneiform writing. Akkadian supplanted Sumerian as the major spoken language of southern Mesopotamia by 2000 BC and about this time split into an Assyrian dialect spoken in the northeast and a Babylonian dialect spoken in the south. Akkadian died out as a vernacular in the first half of the 1st millennium BC, being effectively replaced by Aramaic in Mesopotamia, though it continued to be written until about the 1st century AD.

* * *

▪ ancient language
also spelled  Accadian,  also called  Assyro-babylonian,  

      extinct Semitic language of the Northern Peripheral group, spoken in Mesopotamia from the 3rd to the 1st millennium BC.

      Akkadian spread across an area extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf during the time of Sargon (Akkadian Sharrum-kin) of the Akkad dynasty, who reigned from about 2334 to about 2279 BC. By about 2000 Akkadian had supplanted Sumerian (Sumerian language) as the spoken language of southern Mesopotamia, although Sumerian remained in use as the written language of sacred literature. At about the same time, the Akkadian language divided into the Assyrian dialect, spoken in northern Mesopotamia, and the Babylonian dialect, spoken in southern Mesopotamia. At first the Assyrian dialect was used more extensively, but Babylonian largely supplanted it and became the lingua franca of the Middle East by the 9th century BC. During the 7th and 6th centuries BC, Aramaic gradually began to replace Babylonian as the spoken and written language; after that, Babylonian was still used for writings on mathematics, astronomy, and other learned subjects, but by the 1st century AD it had completely died out. Scholars deciphered the Akkadian language in the 19th century.

      Akkadian, written in a cuneiform script developed from that of the Sumerians, contained about 600 word and syllable signs. The sound system of the language had 20 consonants and 8 vowels (both long and short a, i, e, and u). Nouns occurred in three cases (nominative, genitive, and accusative), three numbers (singular, dual, and plural), and two genders (masculine and feminine); the feminine was distinguished from the masculine by the addition of the suffix -t or -at to the stem. The verb had two tenses (past and present-future).

      In 1921 scholars at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago began to compile a standard dictionary of the Akkadian language. By the 1990s most of the 22 planned volumes of this dictionary had been published.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • AKKADIAN LANGUAGE — Akkadian is the designation for a group of closely related East Semitic dialects current in Mesopotamia from the early third millennium until the Christian era. Closely connected to it is Eblaite, the language found at Tell Maradikh (ancient… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Akkadian language — Akkadian redirects here. For the empire, see Akkadian Empire. Not to be confused with Acadian language. Akkadian lišānum akkadītum Spoken in Assyria and Babylonia Region Mesopotamia …   Wikipedia

  • Akkadian — may refer to: *Akkadian language *City of Akkad or Agad *Akkadian Empire *Sargon of Akkad *The Amarna letters …   Wikipedia

  • Akkadian — 1. adjective /əˈkeɪ.di.ən/ a) Of or pertaining to the Akkadian language of ancient Mesopotamia. b) Of or pertaining to the Akkadian Empire. 2. noun /əˈkeɪ.di.ən/ a) The now extinct Semitic …   Wiktionary

  • language — /lang gwij/, n. 1. a body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the same community or nation, the same geographical area, or the same cultural tradition: the two languages of Belgium; a Bantu language; the French… …   Universalium

  • Akkadian — [ə kā′dē ən, əkä′dē ən] adj. of ancient Akkad or its people, language, or culture n. 1. an extinct Semitic language of the Mesopotamian region, constituting the eastern branch of the Semitic language subfamily 2. a person born or living in… …   English World dictionary

  • Akkadian — 1855, from Akkad (Sumerian Agde, Biblical Acca), name of city founded by Sargon I in northern Babylonia, of unknown origin; applied by modern scholars to the east Semitic language spoken there (c.2300 2100 B.C.E.) and preserved in cuneiform… …   Etymology dictionary

  • language — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) System of communication Nouns 1. language, tongue, lingo, vernacular, mother tongue, protolanguage; living or dead language; idiom, parlance, phraseology; wording; dialect, patois, cant, jargon, lingo,… …   English dictionary for students

  • Akkadian Empire —    The first large scale empire that rose in Mesopotamia, centered on the city of Akkad, situated perhaps east or northeast of Babylon. Modern scholars usually use the term Akkadian to describe the inhabitants of northern Babylonia or, more… …   Ancient Mesopotamia dictioary

  • Akkadian — /euh kay dee euhn, euh kah /, n. 1. the eastern Semitic language, now extinct, of Assyria and Babylonia, written with a cuneiform script. 2. one of the Akkadian people. 3. Obs. Sumerian. adj. 4. of or belonging to Akkad. 5. of or pertaining to… …   Universalium


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.