Mother or Donkey? They are both beasts of burden

Soundwise, it’s a close call in Sumerian—Ama vs. Eme.

Ama is “mother” in Sumerian 863 times; eme is “donkey” 354 times and “tongue” 178 times. What is the association? Eme also means “wet nurse”; imma is “vulva”; ummu is “mother” in Akkadian. No surprise that ama is at the root of “to look at” in Akkadian. Men look at the large breasts of woman, the bottoms of women, and it would seem, the bottoms of donkeys as well. There is a reason that these words are close because in the early days, species was less important than the experience. In Chinese “ma” is “mother” or “horse,” depending upon the tone: both are beasts of burden. When early civilizations over-generalized, they used similar terms for related concepts. All of these “eme” words share the concept of “mouth” (yes, even “vulva”). Emengir was the sound pattern that signified for the “Sumerian language” 32 times (relevant definitions clipped from the Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary are below). Eme is all about mouths, donkeys, and wet nurses. Ama is about mothers. But they’re very close.
old babylonian character for "ama" [mother]


Who would have thought that in 2011 we would have Obama vs. Osama? At the root of both names is “ama”: female. We have many women’s names with this sound: Emma, Ima, Uma (remember Letterman’s “Uma Oprah, Oprah Uma”?). Women and animals were synonymous in the eyes and ears of early speakers.


Whereas ama is all about mothers, eme is all about wet nurses: adoptive mothers, be it animal mothers or slave mothers caring for unrelated charges. Eme has to with the tongue, or anything tongue-like, including a plow. Eme is also in the word for the Sumerian language, for translating, speaking falsely, and “driveling.”

Cuneiform and definitions are from : “The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary Project is carried out in the Babylonian Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology. It is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and private contributions.”

Lady Gaga vs. Emegagu

Emegagu is the Sumerian word for “wet nurse.” It translates as “female with milk,” but it sounds like the name of a clever performer who figured out that “gaga” is a very old word meaning “agog.” “Gaga” is the infantile state that people get into when they are starving and see large breasts. These days one doesn’t need to be starving. That’s evolution for you. We like big breasts because they suggested capacity at a time when humans were hungry.