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Hittite (natively / "the language of Neša", or ''nešumnili'' / "the language of the people of Neša"), also known as Nesite (''Nešite'' / Neshite, Nessite), was an
Indo-European language The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation ...
that was spoken by the
Hittites The Hittites () were an Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara before 1750 BC, then the Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centered on Hattusa Hattusa (also ...

Hittites
, a people of
Bronze Age Anatolia The prehistory of Anatolia stretches from the Paleolithic erahttp://www.sci-news.com/archaeology/science-stone-tool-turkey-02370.html through to the appearance of classical civilisation in the middle of the 1st millennium BC. It is generally regar ...
who created an empire centred on
Hattusa Hattusa (also Ḫattuša or Hattusas ; Hittite language, Hittite: URU (Sumerogram), URU''Ḫa-at-tu-ša'', Hattic language, Hattic: Hattush) was the capital of the Hittites, Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age. Its ruins lie near modern Boğazk ...
, as well as parts of the northern
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
and
Upper Mesopotamia Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the Upland and lowland, uplands and great outwash plain of northwestern Iraq, northeastern Syria and southeastern Turkey, in the northern Middle East. Since the early Muslim conquests of the mid-7th century, ...
. The language, now long extinct, is attested in
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is nam ...
, in records dating from the 17th (
Anitta text Anitta, son of Pithana, was a king of Kussara, a city that has yet to be identified. He is the earliest known ruler to compose a text in the Hittite language. His high official, or ''rabi simmiltim'', was named Peruwa. Biography Anitta, as per ...
) to the 13th centuries BCE, with isolated Hittite loanwords and numerous personal names appearing in an
Old Assyrian
Old Assyrian
context from as early as the 20th century BCE, making it the earliest-attested of the Indo-European languages. By the
Late Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
, Hittite had started losing ground to its close relative
Luwian The Luwians were a group of Anatolian peoples who lived in central, western, and southern Anatolia, in present-day Turkey, in the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. They spoke the Luwian language, an Indo-European language of the Anatolian languages, ...
. It appears that in the 13th century BCE, Luwian was the most-widely spoken language in the Hittite capital,
Hattusa Hattusa (also Ḫattuša or Hattusas ; Hittite language, Hittite: URU (Sumerogram), URU''Ḫa-at-tu-ša'', Hattic language, Hattic: Hattush) was the capital of the Hittites, Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age. Its ruins lie near modern Boğazk ...
. After the collapse of the
Hittite New Kingdom The Hittites () were an Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing an empire centered on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia around 1680–1650 BCE. This empire reached its height during the mid-14th century BC under Šuppi ...
during the more general
Late Bronze Age collapse The Late Bronze Age collapse was a transition period in a large area covering much of Southeast Europe, West Asia and North Africa North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly ac ...
, Luwian emerged in the Early
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's pa ...
as the main language of the so-called
Syro-Hittite states The states that are called Syro-Hittite, Neo-Hittite (in older literature), or Luwian-Aramean (in modern scholarly works), were Luwian The Luwians were a group of Anatolian peoples who lived in central, western, and southern Anatolia, in presen ...
, in southwestern
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
and northern
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
.


Name

''Hittite'' is the modern scholarly name for the language, based on the identification of the Hatti (''Ḫatti'') kingdom with the
Biblical Hittites The Hittites, also spelled Hethites, were a group of people mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Under the names (''bny-ḥt'' "children of Heth", who was the son of Canaan) and (''ḥty'' "native of Heth") they are described several times as living in ...
( hbo, *חתים ), although that name appears to have been applied incorrectly: The terms '' Hattian'' and '' Hattic'' refer respectively to the indigenous people who preceded them and to their non-Indo-European
Hattic language Hattic (Hattian) was a non- Indo-European agglutinative The middle sign is in Hungarian, which agglutinates extensively. (The top and bottom signs are in Romanian and German, respectively, both inflecting languages.) The English translation ...
. In multilingual texts found in Hittite locations, passages written in Hittite are preceded by the adverb (or , ), "in the
peech
peech
of Neša (Kaneš)", an important city during the early stages of the
Hittite Old Kingdom The Hittites () were an Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing an empire centered on Hattusa Hattusa (also Ḫattuša or Hattusas ; Hittite: URU''Ḫa-at-tu-ša'', Hattic language, Hattic: Hattush) was the capital of ...
. In one case, the label is ''Kanisumnili'', "in the
peech
peech
of the people of Kaneš". Although the
Hittite New Kingdom The Hittites () were an Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing an empire centered on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia around 1680–1650 BCE. This empire reached its height during the mid-14th century BC under Šuppi ...
had people from many diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, the Hittite language was used in most secular written texts. In spite of various arguments over the appropriateness of the term, ''Hittite'' remains the most current term because of convention and the strength of association with the
Biblical Hittites The Hittites, also spelled Hethites, were a group of people mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Under the names (''bny-ḥt'' "children of Heth", who was the son of Canaan) and (''ḥty'' "native of Heth") they are described several times as living in ...
. The
endonymic An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 milli ...
term , and its Anglicized variants (''Nesite'', ''Nessite'', ''Neshite''), have never caught on.


Decipherment

The first substantive claim as to the affiliation of Hittite was made by
Jørgen Alexander Knudtzon Jørgen Alexander Knudtzon (9 September 1854 – 7 January 1917) was a Norway, Norwegian linguistics, linguist and historian. He was a professor of Semitic Languages at the University of Oslo from 1907. Knudtzon was born in Trondheim, the son ...
in 1902, in a book devoted to two letters between the king of Egypt and a Hittite ruler, found at
El-Amarna Amarna (; ar, العمارنة, al-ʿamārnah) is an extensive Egyptian archaeology, archaeological site that represents the remains of the capital city newly established (1346 BC) and built by the Pharaoh Akhenaten of the late Eighteenth dynasty ...
,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
. Knudtzon argued that Hittite was Indo-European, largely because of its
morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines *Morphology (archaeology) In archaeology, morphology is the study of the shape of Artifact (archaeology), artefacts and ecofacts. Morphology is a major consid ...
. Although he had no bilingual texts, he was able to provide a partial interpretation of 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 also because the interpretation of the letters was justifiably regarded as uncertain. Knudtzon was definitively shown to have been correct when many tablets written in the familiar
AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages' ...

Akkadian
cuneiform script Cuneiform is a - that was used to write several languages of the . The script was in active use from the early until the beginning of the . It is named for the characteristic wedge-shaped impressions (: ) which form its . Cuneiform was origi ...

cuneiform script
but in an unknown language were discovered by Hugo Winckler in what is now the village of Boğazköy, Turkey, which was the former site of
Hattusa Hattusa (also Ḫattuša or Hattusas ; Hittite language, Hittite: URU (Sumerogram), URU''Ḫa-at-tu-ša'', Hattic language, Hattic: Hattush) was the capital of the Hittites, Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age. Its ruins lie near modern Boğazk ...
, the capital of the Hittite state. Based on a study of this extensive
material Material is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition * Matter, anything that has mass and ...
, Bedřich Hrozný 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 although poorly substantiated. He focused on the striking similarities in idiosyncratic aspects of the morphology that are unlikely to occur independently by chance or to be borrowed. They included the ''r''/''n'' alternation in some noun stems (the heteroclitics) and vocalic
ablaut In linguistics, the Indo-European ablaut (, from Standard High German, German '':wikt:Ablaut#German, Ablaut'' ) is a system of apophony in the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). An example of ablaut in English is the Germanic strong verb, stron ...
, which are both seen in the alternation in the word for ''water'' between the nominative singular, ''wadar'', and the genitive singular, ''wedenas''. He also presented a set of regular sound correspondences. After a brief initial delay because of disruption during the
First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainmen ...
, 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, who authored the first scientifically acceptable Hittite grammar with a
chrestomathy Chrestomathy ( ; from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following ...
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 and is known from
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is nam ...
tablets and inscriptions that were erected by the Hittite kings. The script formerly known as "Hieroglyphic Hittite" is now termed Hieroglyphic Luwian. The Anatolian branch also includes
Cuneiform Luwian Luwian , sometimes known as Luvian or Luish, is an ancient language, or group of languages, within the Anatolian languages, Anatolian branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family. The ethnonym Luwian comes from ''Luwiya'' ...
,
Hieroglyphic Luwian Hieroglyphic Luwian (''luwili'') is a variant of the Luwian language Luwian , sometimes known as Luvian or Luish, is an ancient language, or group of languages, within the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family A language i ...
,
Palaic Palaic is an extinct Indo-European languages, Indo-European language, attested in cuneiform tablets in Bronze Age Hattusa, the capital of the Hittites. Palaic, which was apparently spoken mainly in northern Anatolia, is generally considered to be ...
, Lycian,
Milyan Milyan, also known as Lycian B and previously Lycian 2, is an extinct ancient Anatolian language The Anatolian languages are an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism (from Anc ...
,
Lydian Lydian may refer to: * Lydians, an ancient people of Anatolia * Lydian language, an ancient Anatolian language * Lydian alphabet ** Lydian (Unicode block) * Lydian (typeface), a decorative typeface * Lydian dominant scale or acoustic scale, a musica ...
,
Carian The Carian language is an extinct language of the Luwian subgroup of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures ...
, Pisidian, Sidetic and Isaurian. Unlike most other Indo-European languages, Hittite does not distinguish between masculine and feminine grammatical gender, and it lacks subjunctive and
optative mood The optative mood ( or ; abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or ph ...
s as well as aspect. Various hypotheses have been formulated to explain these differences. Some
linguists Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo ...
, most notably Edgar H. Sturtevant and
Warren Cowgill Warren Cowgill (; December 19, 1929 – June 20, 1985) was an American linguist. He was a professor of linguistics at Yale University Yale University is a private Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an Ameri ...
, have argued that Hittite should be classified as a
sister language In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change Language change is variation over time in a language A language is a structured system of communication ...
to
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
, rather than as a
daughter language In historical linguistics, a daughter language, also known as descendant language, is a language descended from another language, its mother language, through a process of Genetic (linguistics), genetic descent. If more than one language has develo ...
. Their
Indo-Hittite In Indo-European linguistics Indo-European studies is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeli ...
hypothesis is that the parent language (Indo-Hittite) lacked the features that are absent in Hittite as well, and that Proto-Indo-European later innovated them. Other linguists, however, prefer the ''Schwund'' ("loss") Hypothesis in which Hittite (or Anatolian) came from Proto-Indo-European, with its full range of features, but the features became simplified in Hittite. According to
Craig Melchert Harold Craig Melchert (born April 5, 1945) is an American linguist known particularly for his work on the Anatolian branch of Indo-European. Biography He received his B.A. in German from Michigan State University in 1967 and his Ph.D. in Lingu ...
, the current tendency is to suppose that Proto-Indo-European evolved and that the "prehistoric speakers" of Anatolian became isolated "from the rest of the PIE speech community, so as not to share in some common innovations". Hittite and the other
Anatolian languages The Anatolian languages are an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds (taxon), usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the endling, last individual of ...
split off from
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
at an early stage. Hittite thus preserved archaisms that would be lost in the other Indo-European languages. Hittite has many loanwords, particularly religious vocabulary from the non-Indo-European
Hurrian The Hurrians (; cuneiform: ; transliteration: ''Ḫu-ur-ri''; also called Hari, Khurrites, Hourri, Churri, Hurri or Hurriter) were a people of the Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by ...
and Hattic languages. The latter was the language of the
Hattians The Hattians () were an ancient Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the ...
, the local inhabitants of the land of Hatti before they were absorbed or displaced by the
Hittites The Hittites () were an Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara before 1750 BC, then the Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centered on Hattusa Hattusa (also ...

Hittites
. Sacred and magical texts from
Hattusa Hattusa (also Ḫattuša or Hattusas ; Hittite language, Hittite: URU (Sumerogram), URU''Ḫa-at-tu-ša'', Hattic language, Hattic: Hattush) was the capital of the Hittites, Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age. Its ruins lie near modern Boğazk ...
were often written in Hattic,
Hurrian The Hurrians (; cuneiform: ; transliteration: ''Ḫu-ur-ri''; also called Hari, Khurrites, Hourri, Churri, Hurri or Hurriter) were a people of the Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by ...
and
Luwian The Luwians were a group of Anatolian peoples who lived in central, western, and southern Anatolia, in present-day Turkey, in the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. They spoke the Luwian language, an Indo-European language of the Anatolian languages, ...
even after Hittite had become the norm for other writings. The Hittite language has traditionally been stratified into Old Hittite (OH), Middle Hittite (MH) and New Hittite or Neo-Hittite (NH, not to be confused with the
polysemic Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic field. Polysemy is thus distinct from homonymy—or h ...
use of "
Neo-Hittite The states that are called Syro-Hittite, Neo-Hittite (in older literature), or Luwian-Aramean (in modern scholarly works), were Luwian The Luwians were a group of Anatolian peoples who lived in central, western, and southern Anatolia, in presen ...
" label as a designation for the later period, which is actually post-Hittite), corresponding to the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms of the Hittite history (ca. 1750–1500 BCE, 1500–1430 BCE and 1430–1180 BCE, respectively). The stages are differentiated on both linguistic and paleographic grounds.


Script

Hittite was written in an adapted form of Peripheral Akkadian
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is nam ...

cuneiform
orthography from Northern Syria. The predominantly syllabic nature of the script makes it difficult to ascertain the precise phonetic qualities of some of the Hittite sound inventory. The syllabary distinguishes the following consonants (notably, the Akkadian ''s'' series is dropped), :''b, d, g, ḫ, k, l, m, n, p, r, š, t, z'', combined with the vowels ''a, e, i, u''. Additionally, ''ya'' (= I.A : ), ''wa'' (= PI : ) and ''wi'' (= ''wi5'' = GEŠTIN : ) signs are introduced. The Akkadian unvoiced/voiced series (k/g, p/b, t/d) do not express the voiced/unvoiced contrast in writing, but double spellings in intervocalic positions represent voiceless consonants in Indo-European ( Sturtevant's law).


Phonology

The limitations of the syllabic script in helping to determine the nature of Hittite phonology have been more or less overcome by means of comparative etymology and an examination of Hittite spelling-conventions. Accordingly, scholars have surmised that Hittite possessed the following phonemes:


Vowels

*Long vowels appear as alternates to their corresponding short vowels when they are so conditioned by the accent. *Phonemically distinct long vowels occur infrequently.


Consonants


Plosives

Hittite had two series of consonants, one which was written always
geminate In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of eve ...

geminate
in the original script, and another that was always simple. In
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is nam ...

cuneiform
, all consonant sounds except for glides could be geminate. It has long been noticed that the geminate series of plosives is the one descending from
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
voiceless stops, and the simple plosives come from both voiced and voiced aspirate stops, which is often referred as Sturtevant's law. Because of the typological implications of Sturtevant's law, the distinction between the two series is commonly regarded as one of voice. However, there is no agreement over the subject among scholars since some view the series as if they were differenced by
length Length is a measure of distance Distance is a numerical measurement ' Measurement is the number, numerical quantification (science), quantification of the variable and attribute (research), attributes of an object or event, which can be us ...
, which a literal interpretation of the cuneiform orthography would suggest. Supporters of a length distinction usually point the fact that
AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages' ...

Akkadian
, the language from which the Hittites borrowed the cuneiform script, had voicing, but Hittite scribes used voiced and voiceless signs interchangeably.
Alwin Kloekhorst Alwin Kloekhorst (born in Smilde, 1978) is a Dutch people, Dutch linguist, Indo-European studies, Indo-Europeanist and Hittitology, Hittitologist. Biography Kloekhorst received his Ph.D. in 2007 at Leiden University for his thesis on Hittite la ...
also argues that the absence of assimilatory voicing is also evidence for a
length Length is a measure of distance Distance is a numerical measurement ' Measurement is the number, numerical quantification (science), quantification of the variable and attribute (research), attributes of an object or event, which can be us ...
distinction. He points out that the word "''e-ku-ud-du'' - ́gʷtu does not show any voice assimilation. However, if the distinction were one of voice, agreement between the stops should be expected since the
velar Velars are consonants place of articulation, articulated with the back part of the tongue (the dorsum) against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth (known also as the Soft palate, velum). Since the velar region of the roof of ...

velar
and the
alveolar Alveolus (pl. alveoli, adj. alveolar) is a general anatomical term for a concave cavity or pit. Alveolus may refer to: In anatomy and zoology in general * Pulmonary alveolus A pulmonary alveolus (plural: alveoli, from Latin ''alveolus'', "littl ...

alveolar
plosives are known to be adjacent since that word's "u" represents not a vowel but
labialization Labialization is a Secondary articulation, secondary articulatory feature of sounds in some languages. Labialized sounds involve the lips while the remainder of the Human mouth, oral cavity produces another sound. The term is normally restricte ...
.


Laryngeals

Hittite preserves some very archaic features lost in other Indo-European languages. For example, Hittite has retained two of the three
laryngeals The laryngeal theory is a widely accepted hypothesis A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. For a hypothesis to be a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method The scientific method is an Empi ...
( and word-initially). Those sounds, whose existence had been hypothesized in 1879 by
Ferdinand de Saussure Ferdinand de Saussure (; ; 26 November 1857 – 22 February 1913) was a Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Fed ...

Ferdinand de Saussure
, on the basis of vowel quality in other Indo-European languages, were not preserved as separate sounds in any attested Indo-European language until the discovery of Hittite. In Hittite, the phoneme is written as ''ḫ''. In that respect, Hittite is unlike any other attested Indo-European language and so the discovery of laryngeals in Hittite was a remarkable confirmation of Saussure's hypothesis. Both the preservation of the laryngeals and the lack of evidence that Hittite shared certain
grammatical In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
features in the other early Indo-European languages have 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 In the tree model In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and accou ...
. See #Classification above for more details.


Morphology

Hittite is the oldest attested Indo-European language, yet it lacks several grammatical features that are exhibited by other early-attested
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
such as
Vedic upright=1.2, The Vedas are ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. Above: A page from the ''Atharvaveda''. The Vedas (, , ) are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the ol ...
,
Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
,
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
,
Old Persian Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languagesIndo-Iranian may refer to: * Indo-Iranian languages * Indo-Iranians, the various peoples speaking ...
and
Old Avestan Avestan , also known historically as Zend, comprises two languages: Old Avestan (spoken in the 2nd millennium BCE) and Younger Avestan (spoken in the 1st millennium BCE). The languages are known only from their use as the language of Zoroastrian ...
. Notably, Hittite did not have a masculine-feminine gender system. Instead, it had a rudimentary noun-class system that was based on an older animate–inanimate opposition.


Nouns

Hittite inflects for nine cases:
nominative In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as ...
,
vocative In grammar, the vocative Grammatical case, case (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a grammatical case which is used for a noun that identifies a person (animal, object, etc.) being addressed, or occasionally for the determiner (li ...
,
accusative The accusative case (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) 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 (some or all) prepositions. It is ...
,
genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, a ...
,
dative In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as ...
-
locative In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, a ...
,
ablative In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, ...

ablative
, ergative,
allative In grammar, the allative case (; list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ; from Latin language, Latin ''allāt-'', ''afferre'' "to bring to") is a type of locative case, locative grammatical case. The term allative is generally used for the la ...
, and
instrumental An instrumental is a recording normally without any vocals, although it might include some inarticulate vocal The human voice consists of sound In physics, sound is a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmissio ...
; two
numbers A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduc ...
: singular, and plural; and two
animacy Animacy (antonym: inanimacy) is a grammatical In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The ...
classes: animate (common), and inanimate (neuter). Adjectives and pronouns agree with nouns for
animacy Animacy (antonym: inanimacy) is a grammatical In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The ...
,
number A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduct ...
, and
case Case or CASE may refer to: Containers * Case (goods) A case of some merchandise is a collection of items packaged together. A case is not a strict unit of measure. For consumer foodstuff such as canned goods, soft drink, soda, cereal, and such, ...
. The distinction in
animacy Animacy (antonym: inanimacy) is a grammatical In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The ...
is rudimentary and generally occurs in the
nominative case In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as ...
, and the same noun is sometimes attested in both animacy classes. There is a trend towards distinguishing fewer cases in the plural than in the singular and a trend towards distinguishing the plural in fewer cases. The
ergative case In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as ...
is used when an inanimate noun is the subject of a
transitive verb A transitive verb is a verb A verb () is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''become''), or a state of being (''be'', ''exist'', ''stand''). ...
. Early Hittite texts have a
vocative case In grammar In linguistics, the grammar (from Ancient Greek ''grammatikḗ'') of a natural language is its set of structure, structural constraints on speakers' or writers' composition of clause (linguistics), clauses, phrases, and words. The ...
for a few nouns with ''-u'', but it ceased to be productive by the time of the earliest discovered sources and was subsumed by the nominative in most documents. The
allative In grammar, the allative case (; list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ; from Latin language, Latin ''allāt-'', ''afferre'' "to bring to") is a type of locative case, locative grammatical case. The term allative is generally used for the la ...
was subsumed in the later stages of the language by the
dative In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as ...
-
locative In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, a ...
. An archaic
genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, a ...
plural ''-an'' is found irregularly in earlier texts, as is an
instrumental An instrumental is a recording normally without any vocals, although it might include some inarticulate vocal The human voice consists of sound In physics, sound is a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmissio ...
plural in ''-it''. A few nouns also form a distinct
locative In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, a ...
, which had no case ending at all. The examples of ''pišna-'' ("man") for animate and ''pēda-'' ("place") for inanimate are used here to show the Hittite noun declension's most basic form:


Verbs

The verbal morphology is less complicated than for other early-attested
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
like
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
and
Vedic upright=1.2, The Vedas are ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. Above: A page from the ''Atharvaveda''. The Vedas (, , ) are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the ol ...
. Hittite verbs
inflect In linguistic morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical ob ...
according to two general conjugations (''mi''-conjugation and ''hi''-conjugation), two voices (
active Active may refer to: Music * Active (album), ''Active'' (album), a 1992 album by Casiopea * Active Records, a record label Ships * Active (ship), ''Active'' (ship), several commercial ships by that name * HMS Active, HMS ''Active'', the nam ...
and medio-passive), two moods (
indicative mood A realis mood ( abbreviated ) is a grammatical mood In linguistics, grammatical mood is a Grammar, grammatical feature of verbs, used for signalling Modality (natural language), modality. That is, it is the use of verbal inflections that allow s ...
and
imperative Imperative may refer to: *Imperative mood, a grammatical mood (or mode) expressing commands, direct requests, and prohibitions *Imperative programming, a programming paradigm in computer science *Imperative logic *Imperative (film), ''Imperative'' ...
), two aspects (perfective and imperfective), and two tenses (
present The present (or here and now) is the time that is associated with the events perception, perceived directly and in the first time, not as a recollection (perceived more than once) or a speculation (predicted, hypothesis, uncertain). It is a per ...
, and
preterite The preterite or preterit (; list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated or ) is a grammatical tense or verb form serving to denote events that took place or were completed in the past; in some languages, such as Spanish, French, and English, it ...
). Verbs have two
infinitive Infinitive (abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for exa ...
forms, a
verbal noun A verbal noun or gerundial noun is a verb form that functions as a noun. An example of a verbal noun in English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in ...
, a
supine In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, ...

supine
, and a
participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through t ...
. 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. The following example uses the verb ''ēš-/aš-'' "to be".


=Active voice

=


Syntax

Hittite is a
head-final In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic b ...
language: it has subject-object-verb word order, a split ergative Morphosyntactic alignment, alignment, and is a synthetic language; Prepositions and postpositions, adpositions follow their complement (linguistics), complement, adjectives and genitives precede the nouns that they modify, adverbs precede verbs, and Subordination (linguistics)#Subordinate clauses, subordinate clauses precede independent clause, main clauses. Hittite syntax shows one noteworthy feature that is 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, and a "chain" of fixed-order clitics is then appended.


Corpus


See also


References


Sources


Introductions and overviews

* * * * * *


Dictionaries

*Goetze, Albrecht (1954). “Review of: Johannes Friedrich, ''Hethitisches Wörterbuch'' (Heidelberg: Winter)”, ''Language'' 30, pp. 401–5. *Kloekhorst, Alwin. ''Etymological Dictionary of the Hittite Inherited Lexicon''. Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2008. *Puhvel, Jaan (1984–). ''Hittite Etymological Dictionary''. 10 vols. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. * Sturtevant, Edgar H. (1931). “Hittite glossary: words of known or conjectured meaning, with Sumerian ideograms and Accadian words common in Hittite texts”, ''Language'' 7, no. 2, pp. 3–82., ''Language Monograph'' No. 9. * The ''Chicago Hittite Dictionary''


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. * *


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. *


Articles

* * * * * * * * * *


External links


Hittite Online
by Winfred P. Lehmann and Jonathan Slocum, free online lessons at th
Linguistics Research Center
at the University of Texas at Austin *
Hethitologie Portal Mainz
(in German) *
The Electronic Edition of the Chicago Hittite Dictionary
- The University of Chicago
ABZU
- a guide to information related to the study of the Ancient Near East on the Web


Hittite basic lexicon at the Global Lexicostatistical DatabaseHittite in the wiki ''Glossing Ancient Languages''
(recommendations for the Interlinear gloss, Interlinear Morphemic Glossing of Hittite texts)
glottothèque - Ancient Indo-European Grammars online
an online collection of introductory videos to Ancient Indo-European languages produced by the University of Göttingen {{DEFAULTSORT:Hittite Language Hittite language, Anatolian languages Extinct languages of Asia Languages attested from the 16th century BC Languages extinct in the 13th century BC