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The Structure of Hittite


The Structure of Hittite

Hittite belongs to the extinct Anatolian sub-branch of Indo-European. Written in cuneiform script, this language is attested on ca. 30,000 (fragments of) clay tablets found mainly in the royal archives of the capital Hattusa (modern Boghazkale, Turkey). Covering the centuries of the second half of the second millennium BCE, it is the oldest Indo-European language that is available to us through contemporaneous documents.

Syntactically Hittite is non-configurational, with pragmatically based word order, and little hypotaxis and embedding. It is a mainly dependent marking inflectional language with originally nine cases, two noun classes (or three, or four?), two genders, two numbers (singular and plural), a simple verbal system (two tenses, two voices, two conjugations, some aspect marking), a three (or four?)-way person based deictic system, and quite a few conjunctions and Wackernagel clitics with unclear semantic and syntactic roles.

While working through the phonology, morphology and syntax of Hittite, we will address the following topics: establishing a phoneme inventory based on a syllabic cuneiform script that is not able to capture the phonemes and phonotactics of Hittite (or any other Indo-European language), the hotly contested presence of split-ergativity based on animacy, and the influence of information structure on word order.

The course will be based on the teaching grammar Elements of Hittite, by Theo van den Hout, Cambridge University Press 2011, supplemented by overview articles addressing specific issues in grammar.

Course Status: Open

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Second two-week Session


Monday: 1:10 pm-3:00 pm
Thursday: 1:10 pm-3:00 pm