For people reading Broken Tablet out loud (including audiobook narrators, hint, hint) here are some guidelines for pronouncing Sumerian words.

Your go-to resource should be the Sumerian Lexicon by the amazing John A. Halloran.

The vowels may be pronounced as follows: a as in fatheru as in pulle as in peg, and i as in hip. Of the special consonants, ĝ is pronounced like ng in rangh is pronounced like ch in German Buch or Scottish loch, and š is pronounced like sh in dash.

A side-trip on fonts: Although I transcribed the special consonant ĝ here as {g + ^}, in written form, it actually has a tilde above it, so {g + ~}. It is technically possible to render that character with modern Unicode technology, but couldn’t assure that every possible ebook reader would display it properly.

As a comparison, here’s it in image format:  gtilde

And here it is in composed Unicode format: g̃

(Let me know if this comes through for you…browsers seem to be farther ahead of the curve than ebook readers when it comes to Unicode)

I could have simply transliterated š -> sh; ḫ -> kh; ĝ -> ng, but I felt like including the special consonants helped make the Sumerian world more immersive for readers.

Anyway, pronunciation: that ĝ sound is particularly tough for many native English speakers. Asking someone named Ng or Nguyen for help might be instructive. 🙂 (But please don’t make a pest of yourself)

Ḫuluḫ has a rough sound on both ends of the word.

One special case is the word me, representing cultural artifacts and decrees. There are two possible pronunciations; I’ve gone with the simpler one that avoids the ng sound. Use a simple m sound plus an e vowel as in peg.

I will update this page as additional discussion uncovers other words that folks have questions about.


Want to immerse yourself in this world? Go check out Broken Tablet today.