Essays Learning “love” through the Sumerian dictionary

Ancient Tales of Mythology are best read in their original text. As explained earlier, the original text of “Inanna’s descent to the Nether world” is widely available on the internet. As is the dictionary essential to decipher the text at the Pennsylvania University website.

A paper dictionary may also be purchased but their online version is free of charge.
The dictionary translates from English to Sumerian and vice a versa.
Sumerian → English will no doubt be useful when reading “Inanna’s descent to the Nether world”.
English → Sumerian can provide you with insight as to what sort of people the Sumerians were which proves to be very interesting.


What was “Love” to the Sumerians.

Let us start with the word “Love”. Type “Love” in the Dictionary at bottom of the page and click “go”

We see the below four definitions.

All are two words but for the last one, “ul [swell]”

What this means is, there was no “word” for “love” in Sumerian. There was no “word” for it, so they described it. Maybe the Sumerians didn’t have the concept of “love” known to us now, or maybe their understanding of “love” was much different.

Let’s take a look at the second of the four definitions, “hili teĝ”, and break it down.


Upon searching for “hili” in the dictionary, we find four definitions.

The last two are the same as above, the second, “wig” sounds quite irrelevant now (although this also is quite fascinating so I’d suggest taking a look at it later) so let’s click on the first definition, “Luxuriant”.

Beneath the picturesque cuneiform script we see three meanings of “hili”. “sex appeal”, “luxuriant” and “to have pleasure”.
We can speculate that maybe “love” to the Sumerians was to “have pleasure”= to have sex. The inner emotions of “love” may have been yet to be discovered. This may be somewhat similar to the Japanese word for “love-愛” deriving from the term to “sneak in after dark”.
By following the link at the bottom of the page “see ETCSL”, we can also learn where and how the word(s) were used in the original script of “Inanna’s Descent to the Nether world”.


The easiest way to search for this word is to type “tej". Clicking on the fourth, teĝ [APPROACH], we find the definitions below;

1.(to be ) near to approach

and so we can speculate that “love” for Sumerians was to “approach” one with “sex appeal” and “have pleasure”. Quite simply, this instinctive urge may have been what the Sumerians regarded as “love”.

Following this example, “hili Kar” and the other three words may also be deciphered.

As mentioned above, ĝ can be typed j. Similarly, š can be typed as c.

The below site may be the best place to purchase the paper version of the dictionary.