Akkadian: Daughter


American English

I was wondering if anyone knows the Akkadian cuneiform son for daughter? I know the word for son is bīnu (Cuneiform sign), but have had trouble finding the Cuneiform and transliteration for 'daughter'.
  • anthox

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I'm afraid I know next to nothing about world formation in cuneiform. It strikes me, however, that depending on the time period, there may have been multiple ways of writing the same word, and that there isn't necessarily a 1-to-1 correspondence of sign to syllable. Remember that cuneiform was borrowed from the Sumerians, and that sometimes the logographic value of the symbol was used, and sometimes the phonetic. The presence of "ligatures" or multiple signs compacted together tends to further complicate things.

    I've found in Kogan's "Genealogical Classification of Semitic," p. 102 (see preview in Google Books), that binu or bunu (son) and bintu or buntu (daughter) are "sparsely attested" in Akkadian, meaning they occur infrequently in the extant literature, primarily in late texts (p. 79), and may be West Semitic borrowings rather than indigenous Akkadian words. On p. 79, he gives the standard equivalent of binu as maru ("son"), for which the cuneiform is
    according to the Online Akkadian Dictionary.

    The feminine counterpart to this appears to be mārtu, meaning "daughter" or "girl." The cuneiform given for that is

    Definitely check out the Akkadian Dictionary, most likely it can answer your questions, and you can always cross-check it with the CAD or other online resources.


    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Akkadian was in use for about two millennia and you expect a lot of variations in words as well as script. The two signs that Anthox has provided are in Neo-Assyrian script (1000 BCE onward) and denote a word ideographically in accordance with the Sumerian script representation. At the earliest stage of the script, it must have looked like this xx [transcription: DUMU.MUNUS or DUMU.SAL].

    [WR fora cannot display cuneiform fonts] so, here is the image file from an Electronic Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary entry:
    ePSD dumumunus (literally "female offspring/son"; daughter)

    Since DUMU.MUNUS is Sumerian or logographic at best, there is no knowing how a given instance of the word was meant to be pronounced by an Akkadian speaker. Still, you will see that the dictionary explains it is a match for Akkadian mārtu. This means there are bilingual texts or glossaries that match the Sumerian dumumunus to the Akkadian mārtu.

    Some more pages from ePSD:
    Akkadian sign list for B: No entry for bintu. There seems to be no or little bilingual texts that map dumumunus to bintu.
    Akkadian sign list for M: cf. mārtu, māru

    A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian is useful for assessing historical distributions of bintu and mārtu (legenda in first few pages).
    p. 44
    bintu O/jB, MA
    bīnu(m) OAkk, jB, NA in PNs [PN is for personal name; I cannot prove anything but the persons bearing bīnu might have been West Semitic speaking.]

    p. 48
    buntum OA

    pp. 198,9
    mārtu(m) OAkk, OA(lit.), OA, jB, NB, NA
    mārūtu(m) OA, MA; status of son [A derivative means that the word was in active use.]

    While both words with variations were in use from very old, the attestations of mārtu are spread extensively in history and the word looks slightly more productive.

    The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago quotes texts using mārtu.
    CAD M1 (s.v. mārtu) shows how the word was spelled out in tablets and inscriptions. While it recognises that mārtu was a possible reading for instances where the texts read DUMU.MUNUS, it lists syllabic spellings; ma-ar-tum, mar-tum.

    Finally, here are two sign lists that you can pick up syllabaries to write out mārtu like Akkadian speakers did.
    Akkadian Sign List
    List of Neo-Assyrian Cuneiform Signs
    Last edited:


    American English
    Thanks very much, Flaminius, your post was very insightful. However I am looking for the spelling of 'bīntu' in particular in order to reconstruct the Arabic ' بِنْت ', not so much to identify the common Akkadian word for 'daughter'. Wiktionary has a page for the Proto-Semitic 'bin-', which shows two characters apparently for the Akkadian spelling of the word, but did not provide anything on the page for the Proto-Semitic 'bint-'. I tried to check for the characters provided under 'bin' in the Akkadian and Neo-Assyrian cuneiform list, but apparently they don't exist... I am now more confused than ever :eek:


    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Look up bintu in CAD B, and you will find the word syllabically spelt out as; bi-in-tum. The source of this entry is:
    Anne Draffkorn Kilmer, “The First Tablet of malku = šarru together with Its Explicit Version,” Journal of the American Oriental Society, 83 421ff.

    One of the four primary sources Kilmer used for bintu, one had a line art in Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative. CDLI has three images for tables with what to be transliterated as bi-in-tum/tu, all of which are from copies of a glossary compiled in the Neo-Assyrian period. Maybe there are older attestations but I could not find them this time. So, all I can offer is how bintu was syllabically spelt in the Neo-Assyrian period.

    Neo Assyrian Sign List matching
    syllabary, MesZL no., justification
    bi, 358, http://cdli.ucla.edu/search/archival_view.php?ObjectID=P274541
    in, 261, http://cdli.ucla.edu/search/archival_view.php?ObjectID=P345986
    tu, 86, http://cdli.ucla.edu/search/archival_view.php?ObjectID=P274541
    tum, 354, http://cdli.ucla.edu/search/archival_view.php?ObjectID=P349843

    By the same procedure you can check that one of the ways to spell bīnu is bi-i-nu or bi-in-nu. The two new syllabaries can be found here. Justification for x-i-nu is this and bi-i-nu is clearly visible in this but I am not sure if this is Akkadian or the word means "son." Honestly, I have no idea why the current edition of Wiktionary spells the word with ŊEŠTUG.nu. For Malku = Šarru, see Wikipedia (s.v. lexical lists).
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