Post by us4-he2-gal2 on Aug 1, 2020 20:57:27 GMT -5
Welcome to the forum. You're certainly welcome to ask anything you wish. Well, questions of etymology can be difficult to research. Most of the work on Mesopotamian religion and mythology is handled by the philologists, yes, the ones with training in Mesopotamian languages. For philologists, questions of etymology are of basic and intrinsic importance. That isn't to say that one can search through a dozen works containing the name Humbaba and necessarily find even one discussion of the etymology of the name... that all comes down to whether the writer of said article feels that this piece of information is pertinent to his current argument. As a general rule, a good place to start in searching for etymologies like this is the largest and best (through still unfinished) reference work in the field: The Reallexikon der Assyriologie.
The Reallexikon der Assyriologie now has an online version as was posted sometime ago here enenuru - this makes the information accessible to the public basically for the first time:
Bear in mind that, while Humbaba is the form of the name we see most often (as it appears this way in many texts), the original form of the name as it appears in the Old Babylonian period is Humwawa. It is Humwawa that we would need to etymologize. In volume 4 of the Reallexikon (publication years 1972-1975), page 531, Claus Wilcke stated about the name: "Der Name H[umbaba] Der PN H[umbaba] ist nicht etymologisierbar. Er läßt sich keiner bestimmten altor. Sprache zuweisen. Die verschiedenen Schreibungen können Versuche sein, einen der eigenen Sprache fremden PN zu schreiben." Basically what he is saying the name cannot be etymologized, cannot be explained - it cannot be assigned to any ancient Near Eastern language. We can't interpret what it is supposed to mean if we can't identify what language the name comes from. Wilcke further suggests that the different spellings of this name (Humwawa, Humbaba) may result from the attempt by ancient Mesopotamian scribes to render a name that comes from a foreign language.
In other words, this inquiry is unfortunately going to be a dead end at present, most likely. We could keep the thread open of course, in the event some scholar has come up with a new piece of information since Wilcke wrote that (almost 50 years ago now). Andrew George's works especially his 2003 edition of Gilgamesh (the full scholarly edition) should be consulted.