The title as a short course in Akkadian cuneiform

The four lines in the title represent the basic steps to be taken towards a translation.

 
line 1: (cuneiform)
line 2: li - ša - num ak - ka - di - tum (transliteration)
line 3: lišnum akkadtum (normalization or transcription)
line 4: The Akkadian language (translation)


Translating cuneiform in steps
  1. recognize the sign,
    using signlists. There are about 600 cuneiform signs. Recognition in practice is often difficult. Signs may overlap or may be very stretched. Clay tablets may be damaged or difficult to read. Interpreting a broken sign is partly done such that it makes sense in the context.
  2. determine the sign value
    using a choice of values also given in signlists. In syllabic writing each sign stands for a syllable (has phonetic value), but the same sign may have different phonetic values (polyphony). The correct choice should make a meaningful word.
    The same sign may also stand for an entire word (has logographic value), usually more than one word. The choice depends on the context. The conversion from line 1 to line 2 is called transliteration.
  3. Combine sign values to Akkadian words
    The transliterated texts is transcribed, combined into Akkadian as spoken (also called normalization), resulting in line 3. There are no word separators (blancs) as in many ancient languages, like Latin.
    A combination like ka-ak does not imply a double vowel, but stands for the sound kak with either a short vowel or long vowel. Vowels have their own sign. An explicitly written long vowel in the syllable
    kk would be ka-a-ak.
    Double consonant may carry grammatical meaning (e.g. it is used in expressing the present tense). A double consonant may also be caused by assimilation and therefor hiding a root-consonant, which is necessary for finding the basic meaning.
    A combination ak-ka always means akka with double consonant, but a-ka could be aka or akka
    The transcription step depends on knowledge of the grammar. Although long vowels and double consonants are often not indicated, they may have a different grammatical meaning.
  4. translation
    using dictionaries. In order to be able to do this, one has to understand the basic principles of the grammar and use some of the grammar book references. A verb is listed under the infinitive of the basic stem. The actual meaning (translation into English, in line 4) depends in part on our knowledge of the Akkadian culture.
Students best start learning the grammar from cuneiform texts that are already transliterated and at the same time study some of the references to the history and to the Akkadian culture. As introduction you can read the chapter Mesopotamia.
About the grammar in the title

The combination of words in the title is not attested, as far as I know. The ending -um signals the nominative-singular case. In later times (after the Old Babylonian period) the last -m called the mimmation disappears, and the nominative singular has the ending -u.
The noun lišnum meaning 'tongue', 'language' is feminine, although it is sometimes masculine in the meaning 'language'.
Adjectives follow the noun and conform in grammatical form (case, number, gender) to the noun, like in French ('la langue Akkadienne'). Akkadu(m) is the name of the city and region Akkad. The (not very frequent) ending -, here in the feminine form -tum makes an adjective 'Akkadian', which here conforms to the feminine nominative case of the noun.
I could also have written 'the language of Akkad' as a combination of two nouns, the second in the genitive case.
li - ša - an ak - ka - dim
lišn akkadim
The first noun is in the so called 'construct state' (constructing the combination of two nouns), often the shortest form which is phonetically possible. The second noun has the genitive case with the ending -im and -i in later times.