Hittite language

Hittite language

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Hittite is the extinct language
Extinct language
An extinct language is a language that no longer has any speakers., or that is no longer in current use. Extinct languages are sometimes contrasted with dead languages, which are still known and used in special contexts in written form, but not as ordinary spoken languages for everyday communication...

 once spoken by the Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

, a people who created an empire centred on Hattusa
Hattusa
Hattusa was the capital of the Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age. It was located near modern Boğazkale, Turkey, within the great loop of the Kızıl River ....

  in north-central Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

. The language is attested in cuneiform
Hittite cuneiform
Hittite cuneiform is the implementation of cuneiform script used in writing the Hittite language. The surviving corpus of Hittite texts is preserved in cuneiform on clay tablets dates to the 2nd millennium BC ....

, in records from the 16th (Anitta text) down to the 13th century BC, with isolated Hittite loanwords and numerous personal names appearing in an Old Assyrian context from as early as the 20th century BC.

Already in the Late Bronze Age, Hittite was losing ground in competition with its close relative Luwian
Luwian language
Luwian is an extinct language of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family. Luwian is closely related to Hittite, and was among the languages spoken during the second and first millennia BC by population groups in central and western Anatolia and northern Syria...

. It appears that in the 13th century BC Luwian was the most widely spoken language in the Hittite capital Hattusa
Hattusa
Hattusa was the capital of the Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age. It was located near modern Boğazkale, Turkey, within the great loop of the Kızıl River ....

. After the collapse of the Hittite Empire as a part of the more general Bronze Age collapse
Bronze Age collapse
The Bronze Age collapse is a transition in southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age that some historians believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive...

 Luwian emerged in the Early Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 as the main language of the so-called Neo-Hittite states in southwestern Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 and northern Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

.

Hittite is the earliest attested Indo-European language
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

, but was only rediscovered more than a century after the Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 hypothesis had been formulated. Because of marked differences in its structure and phonology, some linguists, most notably Edgar H. Sturtevant
Edgar H. Sturtevant
-Biography:Sturtevant was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, the older brother of Alfred Sturtevant. He studied at the University of Chicago receiving there in 1901 a Ph.D. with a dissertation on Latin case forms. He became an assistant professor of classical philology at Columbia University in New...

 and Warren Cowgill
Warren Cowgill
Warren Cowgill was a professor of linguistics at Yale University and the Encyclopædia Britannica’s authority on Indo-European linguistics. He was unusual among Indo-European linguists of his time in believing that Indo-European should be classified as a branch of Indo-Hittite, with Hittite as a...

, argued that it should be classified as a sister language
Sister language
A sister language is a cognate language, that is, coming from the same once-existing language or hypothetical root language. The latter language is the so-called proto-language. There are many examples of sister languages...

 to the Indo-European languages, rather than a daughter language
Daughter language
In historical linguistics, a daughter language is a language descended from another language through a process of genetic descent.-Examples:*English is a daughter language of Proto-Germanic, which is a daughter language of Proto-Indo-European....

, formulating the Indo-Hittite
Indo-Hittite
In Indo-European linguistics, the term Indo-Hittite refers to Sturtevant's 1926 hypothesis that the Anatolian languages may have split off the Proto-Indo-European language considerably earlier than the separation of the remaining Indo-European languages...

 hypothesis. Other linguists, however, continue to accept the traditional 19th century view of the primacy of Proto-Indo-European and interpret the unusual features of Hittite as mainly due to later innovations. Still others claim that Hittite, as well as its Anatolian
Anatolian languages
The Anatolian languages comprise a group of extinct Indo-European languages that were spoken in Asia Minor, the best attested of them being the Hittite language.-Origins:...

 cousins, split off from Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 at an early stage, thereby preserving archaisms that were later lost in the other Indo-European languages.

Name


"Hittite" is a modern name, chosen after the identification of the Hatti kingdom with the Hittites mentioned in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

.

In multi-lingual texts found in Hittite locations, passages written in the Hittite language are preceded by the adverb nesili (or nasili, nisili), "in the [speech] of Neša
Nesa
Nesa may refer to:* Neša, ancient city in Anatolia* Nisa, Turkmenistan, also transliterated as Nesa* Nesa , a genus of gossamer-winged butterfliesThe acronym NESA can stand for:* NESA, the National Eagle Scout Association...

 (Kaneš)", an important city before the rise of the Empire. In one case, the label is Kanisumnili, "in the [speech] of the people of Kaneš".

Although the Hittite empire was composed of people from many diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, the Hittite language was used in most of their secular written texts. In spite of various arguments over the appropriateness of the term, Hittite remains the most current term by convention, although some authors make a point of using Nesite.

Decipherment



The first substantive claim as to the affiliation of the Hittite language was made by Jørgen Alexander Knudtzon
Jørgen Alexander Knudtzon
Jørgen Alexander Knudtzon was a Norwegian linguist and historian. He was a professor of Semitic Languages at the University of Oslo from 1907....

 in 1902 in a book devoted to two letters between the king of Egypt and a Hittite ruler, found at El-Amarna in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. Knudtzon argued that Hittite was Indo-European, largely on the basis of the morphology
Morphology (linguistics)
In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description, in a language, of the structure of morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context...

. Although he had no bilingual texts, he was able to give a partial interpretation to the two letters because of the formulaic nature of the diplomatic correspondence of the period. His argument was not generally accepted, partly because the morphological similarities he observed between Hittite and Indo-European can be found outside of Indo-European, and partly because the interpretation of the letters was justifiably regarded as uncertain.

Knudtzon was shown definitively to have been correct when a large quantity of tablets written in the familiar Akkadian
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

 cuneiform script
Cuneiform script
Cuneiform script )) is one of the earliest known forms of written expression. Emerging in Sumer around the 30th century BC, with predecessors reaching into the late 4th millennium , cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs...

 but in an unknown language was discovered by Hugo Winckler
Hugo Winckler
Hugo Winckler was a German archaeologist and historian who uncovered the capital of the Hittite Empire at Boğazkale, Turkey....

 at the modern village of Boğazköy, the former site of Hattusas, the capital of the Hittite Empire. Based on a study of this extensive material, Bedřich Hrozný
Bedrich Hrozný
Bedřich Hrozný was a Czech orientalist and linguist. He deciphered the ancient Hittite language, identified it as an Indo-European language and laid the groundwork for the development of Hittitology. Though of Czech origin, he published his work in German or French.Hrozný was born in Lysá nad...

 succeeded in analyzing the language. He presented his argument that the language is Indo-European in a paper published in 1915 (Hrozný 1915), which was soon followed by a grammar of the language (Hrozný 1917). Hrozný's argument for the Indo-European affiliation of Hittite was thoroughly modern, though poorly substantiated. He focused on the striking similarities in idiosyncratic aspects of the morphology, unlikely to occur independently by chance and unlikely to be borrowed. These included the r/n alternation
Alternation (linguistics)
In linguistics, an alternation is the phenomenon of a phoneme or morpheme exhibiting variation in its phonological realization. Each of the various realizations is called an alternant...

 (see rhotacism
Rhotacism
Rhotacism refers to several phenomena related to the usage of the consonant r :*the excessive or idiosyncratic use of the r;...

) in some noun stems and vocalic ablaut, both seen in the alternation in the word for water between nominative singular, wadar and genitive singular, wedenas. He also presented a set of regular sound correspondences. After a brief initial delay due to the disruption caused by the First World War, Hrozný's decipherment, tentative grammatical analysis, and demonstration of the Indo-European affiliation of Hittite were rapidly accepted and more broadly substantiated by contemporary scholars such as Edgar H. Sturtevant
Edgar H. Sturtevant
-Biography:Sturtevant was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, the older brother of Alfred Sturtevant. He studied at the University of Chicago receiving there in 1901 a Ph.D. with a dissertation on Latin case forms. He became an assistant professor of classical philology at Columbia University in New...

 who authored the first scientifically acceptable Hittite grammar with a chrestomathy
Chrestomathy
Chrestomathy is a collection of choice literary passages, used especially as an aid in learning a foreign language.In philology or in the study of literature, it is a type of reader or anthology which presents a sequence of example texts, selected to demonstrate the development of language or...

 and a glossary. The most up-to-date grammar
of the Hittite language is currently Hoffner and Melchert 2008.

Classification


Hittite is one of the Anatolian languages
Anatolian languages
The Anatolian languages comprise a group of extinct Indo-European languages that were spoken in Asia Minor, the best attested of them being the Hittite language.-Origins:...

. Hittite proper is known from cuneiform tablets and inscriptions erected by the Hittite kings. The script known as "Hieroglyphic Hittite" has now been shown to have been used for writing the closely related Luwian language
Luwian language
Luwian is an extinct language of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family. Luwian is closely related to Hittite, and was among the languages spoken during the second and first millennia BC by population groups in central and western Anatolia and northern Syria...

, rather than Hittite proper. Palaic
Palaic language
Palaic is an extinct Indo-European language, attested in cuneiform tablets in Bronze Age Hattusa, the capital of the Hittites. Its name in Hittite is palaumnili, or "of the people of Pala"; Pala was probably to the northwest of the Hittite core area, so in the northwest of present mainland Turkey...

, also spoken in Hittite territory, is attested only in a small number of cuneiform texts. The Anatolian branch also includes Lycian
Lycian language
Lycian language refers to the inscriptional language of ancient Lycia, populated by Lycians, as well as its presumed spoken counterpart.-The speakers:...

, Lydian
Lydian language
Lydian was an Indo-European language spoken in the region of Lydia in western Anatolia . It belongs to the Anatolian group of the Indo-European language family....

, Carian
Carian language
The Carian language is an extinct language of the Luwian subgroup of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family. The Carian language was spoken in Caria, a region of western Anatolia between the ancient regions of Lycia and Lydia, by the Carians, a name possibly first mentioned in...

, Pisidian
Pisidian language
The Pisidian language is a member of the extinct Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family spoken in Pisidia, a region of ancient Asia Minor. Known from some two dozen short inscriptions, it appears to be closely related to Lycian and Sidetic....

, and Sidetic
Sidetic language
The Sidetic language is a member of the extinct Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family known from legends of coins dating to the period of approx. the 5th to 3rd centuries BC found in Side at the Pamphylian coast...

, all attested in alphabetic transmission in the western part of Asia Minor in the first millennium BC.

In Hittite there are many loanwords, particularly religious vocabulary, from the non-Indo-European Hurrian
Hurrian language
Hurrian is a conventional name for the language of the Hurrians , a people who entered northern Mesopotamia around 2300 BC and had mostly vanished by 1000 BC. Hurrian was the language of the Mitanni kingdom in northern Mesopotamia, and was likely spoken at least initially in Hurrian settlements in...

 and Hattic
Hattic language
Hattic was a language spoken by the Hattians in Asia Minor between the 3rd and the 2nd millennia BC. Scholars call this language 'Hattic' to distinguish it from the Hittite language--the Indo-European language of the Hittite Empire....

 languages. Hattic
Hattic language
Hattic was a language spoken by the Hattians in Asia Minor between the 3rd and the 2nd millennia BC. Scholars call this language 'Hattic' to distinguish it from the Hittite language--the Indo-European language of the Hittite Empire....

 was the language of the Hattians
Hattians
The Hattians were an ancient people who inhabited the land of Hatti in present-day central part of Anatolia, Turkey, noted at least as early as the empire of Sargon of Akkad , until they were gradually displaced and absorbed ca...

, the local inhabitants of the land of Hatti
Hattians
The Hattians were an ancient people who inhabited the land of Hatti in present-day central part of Anatolia, Turkey, noted at least as early as the empire of Sargon of Akkad , until they were gradually displaced and absorbed ca...

 before being absorbed or displaced by the Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

. Sacred and magical texts from Hattusa
Hattusa
Hattusa was the capital of the Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age. It was located near modern Boğazkale, Turkey, within the great loop of the Kızıl River ....

 were often written in Hattic, Hurrian, and Luwian
Luwian language
Luwian is an extinct language of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family. Luwian is closely related to Hittite, and was among the languages spoken during the second and first millennia BC by population groups in central and western Anatolia and northern Syria...

, even after Hittite became the norm for other writings.

The Hittite language has traditionally been stratified into Old Hittite (OH), Middle Hittite (MH) and New or Neo-Hittite (NH; not to be confused with the "Neo-Hittite
Neo-Hittite
The states that are called Neo-Hittite, or more recently Syro-Hittite, were Luwian, Aramaic and Phoenician-speaking political entities of the Iron Age northern Syria and southern Anatolia that arose following the collapse of the Hittite Empire around 1180 BC and lasted until roughly 700 BC...

" period which is actually post-Hittite), corresponding to the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms of the Hittite Empire (ca. 1750–1500 BC, 1500–1430 BC and 1430–1180 BC, respectively). These stages are differentiated partly on linguistic and partly on paleographic grounds. Just as the notion of a Middle Kingdom has been largely discredited, Melchert (Middle Hittite revisited) argues that MH as a linguistic term is not clearly delineated and should be understood as referring to a period of transition between OH and NH.

Orthography



Hittite was written in an adapted form of Peripheral Akkadian cuneiform
Cuneiform
Cuneiform can refer to:*Cuneiform script, an ancient writing system originating in Mesopotamia in the 4th millennium BC*Cuneiform , three bones in the human foot*Cuneiform Records, a music record label...

 orthography from Northern Syria. Owing to the predominantly syllabic nature of the script, it is difficult to ascertain the precise phonetic qualities of a portion of the Hittite sound inventory.

The syllabary distinguishes the following consonants (notably dropping the Akkadian s series),
b, p, d, t, g, k, , r, l, m, n, š, z,

combined with the vowels a, e, i, u. Additional ya (=I.A ), wa (=PI ) and wi (=wi5=GEŠTIN ) signs are introduced.

The Akkadian voiced/unvoiced series (k/g, p/b, t/d) are not used to express the voiced/unvoiced contrast in Hittite though double spellings in intervocalic positions represent voiceless consonants in Indo-European (Sturtevant's law).

Phonology


The limitations of the syllabic script have been more or less overcome by means of comparative etymology and an examination of Hittite spelling conventions, and accordingly, scholars have surmised that Hittite possessed the following phonemes.

Vowels

VOWELS
Vowel
In phonetics, a vowel is a sound in spoken language, such as English ah! or oh! , pronounced with an open vocal tract so that there is no build-up of air pressure at any point above the glottis. This contrasts with consonants, such as English sh! , where there is a constriction or closure at some...

Front
Front vowel
A front vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a front vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far in front as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Front vowels are sometimes also...

Central
Central vowel
A central vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a central vowel is that the tongue is positioned halfway between a front vowel and a back vowel...

Back
Back vowel
A back vowel is a type of vowel sound used in spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a back vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Back vowels are sometimes also called dark...

Close
Close vowel
A close vowel is a type of vowel sound used in many spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close vowel is that the tongue is positioned as close as possible to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.This term is prescribed by the...

i   u
Mid
Mid vowel
A mid vowel is a vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned mid-way between an open vowel and a close vowel...

e    
Open
Open vowel
An open vowel is defined as a vowel sound in which the tongue is positioned as far as possible from the roof of the mouth. Open vowels are sometimes also called low vowels in reference to the low position of the tongue...

  a  

  • Long vowels appear as alternates to their corresponding short vowels when they are so conditioned by the accent.
  • Phonemically distinct long vowels occur infrequently.
  • All vowels may occur word-initially and word-finally, except /e/.

Consonants

CONSONANTS
Consonant
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of the tongue; , pronounced in the throat; and ,...

Bilabial
Bilabial consonant
In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a consonant articulated with both lips. The bilabial consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:...

Alveolar
Alveolar consonant
Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli of the superior teeth...

Palatal
Palatal consonant
Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate...

Velar
Velar consonant
Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

Labiovelar Laryngeal
Laryngeal theory
The laryngeal theory is a generally accepted theory of historical linguistics which proposes the existence of one, or a set of three , consonant sounds termed "laryngeals" that appear in most current reconstructions of the Proto-Indo-European language...

Plosives p  b t  d   k  ɡ kʷ  ɡʷ  
Nasals
Nasal consonant
A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

m n        
Fricatives
Fricative consonant
Fricatives are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate, in the case of German , the final consonant of Bach; or...

  s       h₂, h₃
Affricate
Affricate consonant
Affricates are consonants that begin as stops but release as a fricative rather than directly into the following vowel.- Samples :...

  ts        
Liquids
Liquid consonant
In phonetics, liquids or liquid consonants are a class of consonants consisting of lateral consonants together with rhotics.-Description:...

, Glides
Semivowel
In phonetics and phonology, a semivowel is a sound, such as English or , that is phonetically similar to a vowel sound but functions as the syllable boundary rather than as the nucleus of a syllable.-Classification:...

  r, l j   w  

  • All voiceless obstruents and all sonorants except /r/ appear word-initially. This is true of all Anatolian languages.
  • Word-finally, the following tendencies emerge:
    • Among the stops, only voiced appear word-finally. /-d/, /-g/ are common, /-b/ rare.
    • /-s/ occurs frequently; /-h₂/, /-h₃/, /-r/, /-l/, /-n/ less often; and /-m/ never.
    • The glides /w/, /j/ appear in diphthongs with /a/, /aː/.
  • The voiced/unvoiced series are inferred from the fact that doubling consonants in intervocalic positions represents voiceless consonants in Indo-European (Sturtevant's law, cf. Sturtevant 1932, Puhvel 1974): i.e. voiced stops are represented by single consonants (*yugom = i-ú-kán), voiceless stops with double consonants (*k'eyto > ki-it-ta).

Laryngeals


Hittite preserves some very archaic features lost in other Indo-European languages. For example, Hittite has retained two of three laryngeals
Laryngeal theory
The laryngeal theory is a generally accepted theory of historical linguistics which proposes the existence of one, or a set of three , consonant sounds termed "laryngeals" that appear in most current reconstructions of the Proto-Indo-European language...

 (h2 and h3 word-initially). These sounds, whose existence had been hypothesized by Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist whose ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments in linguistics in the 20th century. He is widely considered one of the fathers of 20th-century linguistics...

 on the basis of vowel quality in other Indo-European languages in 1879, were not preserved as separate sounds in any attested Indo-European language until the discovery of Hittite. In Hittite, this phoneme is written as . Hittite, as well as most other Anatolian languages, differs in this respect from any other Indo-European language, and the discovery of laryngeals in Hittite was a remarkable confirmation of Saussure's hypothesis.

The preservation of the laryngeals, and the lack of any evidence that Hittite shared grammatical
Grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

 features possessed by the other early Indo-European languages, has led some philologists to believe that the Anatolian languages split from the rest of Proto-Indo-European much earlier than the other divisions of the proto-language
Proto-language
A proto-language in the tree model of historical linguistics is the common ancestor of the languages that form a language family. Occasionally, the German term Ursprache is used instead.Often the proto-language is not known directly...

. Some have proposed an "Indo-Hittite
Indo-Hittite
In Indo-European linguistics, the term Indo-Hittite refers to Sturtevant's 1926 hypothesis that the Anatolian languages may have split off the Proto-Indo-European language considerably earlier than the separation of the remaining Indo-European languages...

" language family or superfamily, that includes the rest of Indo-European on one side of a dividing line and Anatolian on the other. The vast majority of scholars continue to reconstruct a Proto-Indo-European, but all believe that Anatolian was the first branch of Indo-European to leave the fold.

Diffusion of Satem features in Indo-European


Sturtevant
Edgar H. Sturtevant
-Biography:Sturtevant was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, the older brother of Alfred Sturtevant. He studied at the University of Chicago receiving there in 1901 a Ph.D. with a dissertation on Latin case forms. He became an assistant professor of classical philology at Columbia University in New...

 (1940), the father of the Indo-Hittite
Indo-Hittite
In Indo-European linguistics, the term Indo-Hittite refers to Sturtevant's 1926 hypothesis that the Anatolian languages may have split off the Proto-Indo-European language considerably earlier than the separation of the remaining Indo-European languages...

 hypothesis, was the first scholar to note the lack of u after k representing earlier IE palatal *k or *g. Goetze
Albrecht Goetze
Albrecht Goetze was a German-American Hittitologist.Goetze was Professor of Semitic languages at the University of Marburg when the Nazi regime came to power in 1933. It was through the initiative of Edgar H. Sturtevant that Goetze was invited to Yale University in 1934, a move that was to prove...

 (1954) and Wittmann
Henri Wittmann
Henri Wittmann is a Canadian linguist from Quebec. He is best known for his work on Quebec French.-Biography:Henri Wittmann was born in Alsace in 1937...

 (1969) posited in these positions a K to S shift incipient of the later Kentum-Satem
Centum-Satem isogloss
The centum-satem division is an isogloss of the Indo-European language family, related to the different evolution of the three dorsal consonant rows of the mainstream reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European:...

 shift distinctive of the IE Satem group of languages. The diffusion hypothesis of the Satem features (spirantization of palatal stops before u as the focal origin of the Centum-Satem isogloss
Centum-Satem isogloss
The centum-satem division is an isogloss of the Indo-European language family, related to the different evolution of the three dorsal consonant rows of the mainstream reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European:...

) has the advantage to motivate the existence of marginal Satem features in Greek and Tocharian, and of marginal Kentum features in Armenian.

Grammar


Detailed information and declension tables can be found at Hittite Grammar
Hittite grammar
The grammar of the Hittite language has a highly conservative verbal system and rich nominal declension. The language is attested in cuneiform, and is one of the earliest attested Indo-European languages apart from Vedic Sanskrit....

.


The oldest attested Indo-European language, Hittite lacks several grammatical features exhibited by other "old" Indo-European languages such as Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

, Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, and Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

. Notably, Hittite does not have the IE gender system opposing masculine-feminine; instead it has a rudimentary noun class system based on an older animate-inanimate opposition.

Nouns


The Hittite nominal system consists of the following cases
Declension
In linguistics, declension is the inflection of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and articles to indicate number , case , and gender...

: nominative, accusative
Accusative case
The accusative case of a noun is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb. The same case is used in many languages for the objects of prepositions...

, dative
Dative case
The dative case is a grammatical case generally used to indicate the noun to whom something is given, as in "George gave Jamie a drink"....

-locative, genitive, allative, ablative, and instrumental
Instrumental case
The instrumental case is a grammatical case used to indicate that a noun is the instrument or means by or with which the subject achieves or accomplishes an action...

, and distinguishes between two numbers
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

 (singular and plural) and two genders
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

, common (animate) and neuter (inanimate). The distinction between genders is fairly rudimentary, with a distinction generally being made only in the nominative case, and the same noun is sometimes attested in both genders.

In its most basic form, the Hittite noun declension functions as follows, using the examples of pisna- ("man") for animate and pēda- ("place") for neuter.
Common Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative pisnas pisnēs pēdan pēda
Accusative pisnan pisnus pēdan pēda
Genitive pisnas pisnas pēdas pēdas
Dative/Locative pisni pisnas pēdi pēdas
Ablative pisnats pisnats pēdats pēdats
Allative pisna - pēda -
Instrumental pisnit - pēdit -


As can be seen, there is a trend towards distinguishing fewer cases in the plural than in the singular. A handful of nouns in earlier text form a vocative with -u, however, the vocative case was no longer productive even by the time of our earliest sources, its function was subsumed by the nominative in most documents. The allative also fell out of use in the later stages of the language's development, its function subsumed by the dative-locative. An archaic genitive plural -an is found irregularly in earlier texts, as is an instrumental plural in -it. A few nouns also form a distinct locative without any case ending at all.

Verbs


When compared with other early-attested Indo-European languages, such as Ancient Greek and Sanskrit, the verb system in Hittite is relatively morphologically uncomplicated. There are two general verbal classes
Grammatical conjugation
In linguistics, conjugation is the creation of derived forms of a verb from its principal parts by inflection . Conjugation may be affected by person, number, gender, tense, aspect, mood, voice, or other grammatical categories...

 according to which verbs are inflected, the mi-conjugation and the hi-conjugation. There are two voices (active and medio-passive), two moods
Grammatical mood
In linguistics, grammatical mood is a grammatical feature of verbs, used to signal modality. That is, it is the use of verbal inflections that allow speakers to express their attitude toward what they are saying...

 (indicative and imperative), and two tenses
Grammatical tense
A tense is a grammatical category that locates a situation in time, to indicate when the situation takes place.Bernard Comrie, Aspect, 1976:6:...

 (present and preterite
Preterite
The preterite is the grammatical tense expressing actions that took place or were completed in the past...

). Additionally, the verbal system displays two infinitive
Infinitive
In grammar, infinitive is the name for certain verb forms that exist in many languages. In the usual description of English, the infinitive of a verb is its basic form with or without the particle to: therefore, do and to do, be and to be, and so on are infinitives...

 forms, one verbal substantive
Verbal noun
In linguistics, the verbal noun turns a verb into a noun and corresponds to the infinitive in English language usage. In English the infinitive form of the verb is formed when preceded by to, e.g...

, a supine
Supine
In grammar a supine is a form of verbal noun used in some languages.-In Latin:In Latin there are two supines, I and II . They are originally the accusative and dative or ablative forms of a verbal noun in the fourth declension, respectively. The first supine ends in -um. It has two uses. The first...

, and a participle
Participle
In linguistics, a participle is a word that shares some characteristics of both verbs and adjectives. It can be used in compound verb tenses or voices , or as a modifier...

. Rose (2006) lists 132 hi-verbs and interprets the hi/mi oppositions as vestiges of a system of grammatical voice ("centripetal voice" vs. "centrifugal voice").
Mi-conjugation

The mi-conjugation is similar to the general verbal conjugation paradigm in Sanskrit, and can also be compared to the class of mi-verbs in Ancient Greek.
Active Voice
Indicative Imperative Infinitive Participle Supine
Present suwāiemi
suwāiesi
suwāietsi
suwāieweni
suwāietteni
suwāieantsi
suwāieallut
suwāiet
suwāiettu

suwāietten
suwāientu







Preterite suwāieun
suwāies
suwāieta
suwāiewen
suwāieten
suwāiēr

Syntax


Hittite syntax exhibits one noteworthy feature typical of Anatolian languages. Commonly, the beginning of a sentence or clause is composed of either a sentence-connecting particle or otherwise a fronted or topicalized form, to which a "chain" of fixed-order clitic
Clitic
In morphology and syntax, a clitic is a morpheme that is grammatically independent, but phonologically dependent on another word or phrase. It is pronounced like an affix, but works at the phrase level...

s is appended.

See also


  • Johannes Friedrich
  • Albrecht Goetze
    Albrecht Goetze
    Albrecht Goetze was a German-American Hittitologist.Goetze was Professor of Semitic languages at the University of Marburg when the Nazi regime came to power in 1933. It was through the initiative of Edgar H. Sturtevant that Goetze was invited to Yale University in 1934, a move that was to prove...

  • Bedřich Hrozný
    Bedrich Hrozný
    Bedřich Hrozný was a Czech orientalist and linguist. He deciphered the ancient Hittite language, identified it as an Indo-European language and laid the groundwork for the development of Hittitology. Though of Czech origin, he published his work in German or French.Hrozný was born in Lysá nad...

    , he deciphered the ancient Hittite language
  • Craig Melchert
    Craig Melchert
    H. Craig Melchert is a linguist known particularly for his work on the Anatolian branch of Indo-European. He received his B.A. in German from Michigan State University in 1967 and his Ph.D. in Linguistics from Harvard University in 1977. From 1968 to 1972 he served in the United States Air Force,...

  • Edgar H. Sturtevant
    Edgar H. Sturtevant
    -Biography:Sturtevant was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, the older brother of Alfred Sturtevant. He studied at the University of Chicago receiving there in 1901 a Ph.D. with a dissertation on Latin case forms. He became an assistant professor of classical philology at Columbia University in New...

  • Henri Wittmann
    Henri Wittmann
    Henri Wittmann is a Canadian linguist from Quebec. He is best known for his work on Quebec French.-Biography:Henri Wittmann was born in Alsace in 1937...


Literature


Introductions and overviews

Dictionaries
  • Goetze, Albrecht (1954). Review of: Johannes Friedrich, Hethitisches Wörterbuch (Heidelberg: Winter). Language 30.401-405.http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0097-8507(195407%2F09)30%3A3%3C401%3AHWKKSD%3E2.0.CO%3B2-J
  • Sturtevant, Edgar H. (1931). Hittite glossary: words of known or conjectured meaning, with Sumerian ideograms and Accadian words common in Hittite texts. Language, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 3–82., Language Monograph No. 9.
  • Puhvel, Jaan (1984-). Hittite Etymological Dictionary. Berlin: Mouton.


Grammar
  • Sturtevant, Edgar H. A. (1933, 1951). Comparative Grammar of the Hittite Language. Rev. ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951. First edition: 1933.
  • Sturtevant, Edgar H. A. (1940). The Indo-Hittite laryngeals. Baltimore: Linguistic Society of America.
  • Yakubovich, Ilya (2010). Sociolinguistics of the Luwian Language. Leiden: Brill.


Text editions
  • Goetze, Albrecht & Edgar H. Sturtevant (1938). The Hittite Ritual of Tunnawi. New Haven: American Oriental Society.
  • Sturtevant, Edgar H. A., & George Bechtel (1935). A Hittite Chrestomathy. Baltimore: Linguistic Society of America.


Journal articleshttp://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0097-8507(194004%2F06)16%3A2%3C81%3AEFVIIG%3E2.0.CO%3B2-Mhttp://homepage.mac.com/noula/ling/1964b-hittUDU.pdfhttp://homepage.mac.com/noula/ling/1964d-SHE1.pdfhttp://homepage.mac.com/noula/ling/1973d-SHE2.pdfhttp://homepage.mac.com/noula/ling/1969c-hittiteK.pdfhttp://homepage.mac.com/noula/ling/1969a-lexstatHitt.pdfhttp://homepage.mac.com/noula/ling/1969d-ied.pdf

External links