Friday, August 5, 2016

Sumerian Insults

Sumerian Language:
My personal favorite insults in Sumerian are agaashgi “most awkward person” and sangdu nutuku “idiot”, which literally means “not having a head”.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

I've always found the underlying conceptual roots of insults fascinating.

For example, "idiot" ultimately comes from the Greek ἰδιώτης / idiōtēs, denoting someone who who wasn't an active part of public life and Greek statecraft. So the insult wasn't originally about behaving stupidly or lacking knowledge, but about being insufficiently social and public in one's lifestyle and politics.

Of course, I'm even more fascinated by situations where terms which originally weren't insulting over time became so. One of my favorite examples is "nimrod", known for thousands of years as merely the name of the Biblical king Nimrod of Shinar, with the associated reputation of his being a hunter of legendary skill. Then good ol' Bugs Bunny comes along and sarcastically compared Elmer Fudd to the great Biblical hunter, and then entire generations of American kids watching old Looney Tunes reruns decades later without the proper context for the reference picked up on it's usage as an insult without understanding it's actual meaning, and voila - instant new usage.