Hittite

Pacifica

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Hi,

Does anyone know about any good book for learning some basics of Hittite? I'm not quite sure yet, but I've been vaguely considering it.
 

Pacifica

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I guess I'm just curious because it's the oldest attested Indo-European language.
 

Pacifica

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Thanks!
 

Pacifica

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Eeeeeeeeee!

ku-it ku-it ... nominative -acc.sg. neut. of <kui- kui-> whoever, whichever, whatever

And there are others, of course, but this one is the cutest. Yes, I know, it's probably very silly to be glad like this only because you find cognates of familiar words.
 

Pacifica

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Ku- is pronounced just like Latin qu-.
 

Pacifica

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I think their way of writing would drive you — with your keen sense of logic — nuts, Callaina.
3 The Use of Sumerian and Akkadian

Since the Cuneiform syllabary was invented by Sumerians and later borrowed and adapted by speakers of the Semitic language Akkadian, the Hittite scribes inherited a number of writing conventions from Sumerian and Akkadian. The most notable of these is the use of Sumerian and Akkadian words as ideograms representing Hittite words and distinguishing grammatical functions. The typical Hittite text is a mixture of syllabic writing of Hittite words, Sumerian, Akkadian, and odd hybrids in which Hittite syllabic writing is combined with Sumerian and/or Akkadian or in which Akkadian and Sumerian are combined.
3.1 Sumerograms

Although Hittite could be spelled with syllabic signs, the Hittite scribes also used Sumerian signs (or Sumerograms) ideographically. In other words, a word might be written in Sumerian, but it was read in Hittite. This is a practice that the Hittites borrowed and adapted from Akkadian cuneiform, which also used Sumerograms. In transcribing Hittite texts, it is conventional to render Sumerograms in capitals. For example, the Hittite word for "king" was usually written as LUGAL, the Sumerian word for "king," but we know that when a text was read, the word was pronounced in Hittite as [hāssus]. Similarly, the Sumerogram EN 'lord, master' was read in Hittite as [ishās], and HUL 'evil, bad' was read as Hittite [idālu]. The Sumerian plural markers MEŠ, HI.A, and DIDLI were also used to indicate plurals. For example, we find ŠEŠ 'brother' (Hitt. nom. sg. [negnas]) beside ŠEŠMEŠ 'brothers' (Hitt. nom. pl. [negnēs]), UDU 'sheep' (Hitt. nom. sg. *[pekkus] or [yants]) beside plural UDUHI.A, or URU 'city' (Hitt. nom.sg. [happeriyas]) beside plural URUDIDLI. Occasionally, one finds two Sumerian plural markers attached to a word, for example, ERINMEŠHI.A 'troops' or URUDIDLI.HI.A 'cities'.
3.2 Phonetic Complements

Often, probably to distinguish grammatical function, to disambiguate synonyms, or simply to remind the scribe of the Hittite reading, Sumerograms were followed by one or more syllables to indicate the reading. Such syllabic tags are called phonetic complements, and they are another practice borrowed from Akkadian. For example, The sentence LUGAL a-us-zi could mean either "(S)he sees the king" or "The king observes." However, LUGAL-us a-us-zi with the syllabic complement -us indicating that LUGAL is to be read in Hittite as nominative singular [hāssus] clearly means "The king observes" (pronounced [hāssus austsi]). But LUGAL-un a-us-zi with the syllabic complement -un, indicating that the word for "king" is accusative singular ([hāssun]) clearly means that someone sees the king (pronounced [hāssun austsi]). The spelling UDU-us 'sheep' (nom. sg.) indicates that the Hittite word underlying the Sumerogram was a u-stem (probably *[pekkus], which is not attested in syllabic writing). HUL-lu-un (Sumerian HUL 'evil' plus Hittite phonetic complement -lu-un) was read as "evil" (noun or adjective) accusative singular (in Hittite, [idālun]), but HUL-ah-mi (HUL plus phonetic complement -ah-mi) was read as first person singular present [idālawahmi] 'I (will) harm, I (will) do evil'. As with words written in Hittite, Sumerograms are also found with enclitic pronouns and particles, for example: LUGAL-ma-mu UDU pa-is 'But the king gave the sheep to me.' Enclitics could also follow phonetic complements; for example: LUGAL-us-ma-mu a-us-zi 'The king sees me'. (LUGAL = "the king" plus -us indicating nominative singular, plus enclitic conjunction -ma 'but' plus first person singular accusative-dative enclitic personal pronoun -mu 'to me'.)
3.3 Akkadograms and Use of Akkadian

The Hittite scribes also used Akkadian words as ideograms. Such words, called Akkadograms, are conventionally italicized in transcriptions of Hittite texts and they may be capitalized to distinguish them as Akkadograms as opposed to Akkadian words borrowed into Hittite. (The Hittites did borrow some words from Akkadian; for example: Hittite tuppi 'tablet' from Akk. tuppu, ultimately from Sum. dub.) For example, the Hittite word ish:as, 'lord, master' could not only be written in Sumerian as EN but also in Akkadian as BEL (Akk. bēlu). The third person singular preterit of Akkadian ṣābatu 'seize', for example, is sometimes used as an Akkadogram IṢ-BAT to stand for for Hittite ēpta 'seized'. Akkadian was a more highly inflected language than Sumerian, with endings for gender, case and number in the noun and adjective and endings for number, tense, gender and aspect in the verb. These endings were sometimes written in Hittite texts. For example, we find inflected forms of the Akkadogram meaning "lord, master": nom. sg. BE-LU and gen. sg. BE-LAM. Similarly, the word for "father" is found as nom. sg. ABU and gen. sg. ABI. Akkadian also had a special form of the noun, called the construct state (essentially the stem), to which enclitic possessive pronouns were added (e.g., Akk. ab-ī 'my father', abi-ya 'of my father'). The Hittites used these Akkadian possessive pronouns too, but their Akkadian was often faulty, and one finds Akkadograms like ABI-YA, or BĒLI-YA with the pronoun attached to the Akkadian genitive. Sometimes such forms were used syntactically as nominatives, vocatives, or accusatives. Akkadian possessive pronouns could also be used with Sumerograms (e.g., DUMU-ŠU 'his son'). Although Akkadograms were pronounced in Hittite, in writing combinations of nouns and possessive ponouns, the scribes followed Akkadian spelling rules. When possessive suffixes beginning in š were attached to Akkadian words ending in dental stops, the suffixes were spelled with z in the version of Akkadian which the Hittites borrowed, indicating a pronunciation [-ts]. For example, in Akkadian, qāt 'hand' plus the third person singular suffix šu is spelled quazzu. The Hittite scribes followed this practice in writing the suffixes after Sumerograms when the Akkadian equivalent ended in a dental stop, even if neither the Sumerogram nor the underlying Hittite word had a final dental stop. For example, the Hittite word for "land" or "country" was [udnē]. It is often spelled with the Sumerogram KUR, and spellings for "his country" as KUR-ZU, reflecting Akkadian mā-zu for māt 'country' plus possessive suffix -šu are sometimes found.
The scribes used Hittite phonetic complements with Akkadian words less commonly than they did with Sumerian, perhaps because Sumerian was a dead language by the second millennium but Akkadian was a living language used, for example, by the Hittites in diplomatic correspondence. Akkadian could also be used to indicate grammatical relations among Hittite words. For example, the Akkadian prepositions ina, 'in, into' and ana 'to' were used as Akkadograms to indicate the dative and locative as in: IN-A ÉGAL 'into the palace', INA URUHattusi, 'in the city of Hattusas', A-NA TUPPI 'on the tablet', or I-NA kisri-ssi 'in his hand'. The Akkadian preposition ša was used as an Akkadogram to indicate the Hittite genitive, e.g., ŠA LUGAL-u-wa-as 'of the king'. Since Hittite could indicate these relations both with case forms (e.g., hāssuwas 'of the king' or tuppiyas 'of the tablet') and with postpositions (e.g., udnē andan 'in(to) the country') such prepositions serve as graphic indicators only; they were not pronounced. One often finds the dative-locative, for example, marked three times (e.g., I-NA par-ni an-da-an 'into the house' = Akk prep. INA 'into' + Hitt dat. sg. parni 'into the house' + Hitt. postposition andan 'into'). Finally, although Hittite had enclitic and free-standing conjunctions, the Akkadogram Ú could be used to indicate 'and'.
Fragments of Akkadian could also be used after Sumerograms as phonetic complements; for example: DINGIRLUM (from Sumerian DINGIR 'god' plus Akkadian nominative singular ilum 'god'), DINGIRLIM (from DINGIR plus Akkadian genitive singular ilim), or DUMU-ru from Sumerian DUMU 'son' plus Akkadian -ru from nom. sg. māru 'son'). Again, the scribes' command of Akkadian was spotty, and a form like DINGIRLIM was not restricted to the genitive (e.g., with Akkadian phonetic complement from the genitive ilim and Hittite phonetic complement -ni indicating the dative DINGIR-LIM-ni 'to the god' (pronounced in Hittite as [siuni]).
 

Callaina

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Ugh. How horrifically inefficient and inconsistent. Sheesh.
 

Pacifica

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Er... Don't tell me you've read all the above chunk already? Lol.
 

Etaoin Shrdlu

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I think it would drive anyone nuts, and that that is precisely what it was designed to do.
 

Pacifica

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Pacifica

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I think it would drive anyone nuts, and that that is precisely what it was designed to do.
Oh, so French wouldn't have been the only language to do that?
 

Callaina

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I think it would drive anyone nuts, and that that is precisely what it was designed to do.
This actually makes me wonder whether (since in this time literacy was confined to a relatively small, trained elite) deliberately obscure and archaic elements were retained in the writing system, so as to prevent its dissemination to a wider public? Probably not (it was probably due mostly to the strength of tradition, really) but it's an interesting thought if one's inclined at all to conspiracy theories.
 
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