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Hittite:see Anatolian languagesAnatolian languages
, subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see The Indo-European Family of Languages, table); the term "Anatolian languages" is also used to refer to all languages, Indo-European and non-Indo-European, that were spoken in Anatolia in ancient times.
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the language of the Hittites. Hittite is a Hittite-Luwian language. The language is attested primarily by texts from the Boğazköy archive, although some texts have been found at such sites as Ugarit and Amarna. Hittite is divided into three periods of development: Old Hittite (18th to 16th centuries B.C.), Middle Hittite (15th and early 14th centuries B.C.), and New Hittite (14th to early 12th centuries B.C.). New discoveries of Old Hittite texts are making it possible to establish a more precise chronology.
Hittite is the most fully documented and studied of the Hittite-Luwian languages. Its linguistic investigation began in 1915 when the Czech scholar B. Hrozný deciphered the cuneiform inscriptions and showed Hittite to be an Indo-European language (seeINDO-EUROPEAN LANGUAGE). Hittite data have proved extremely important to Indo-European linguistics and to research on general questions in Indo-European studies.
A unique archaic feature of Hittite is its retention of a laryngeal. The noun has two genders. Verbs have two sets of endings, corresponding to the Indo-European active and medium and/or perfect voice. The syntax of Hittite is extremely archaic. The language does show, however, certain innovations. The theory of some scholars that the Hittite lexicon is not Indo-European fails to explain why the numerous borrowings from such languages as Hattic and Hurrian primarily affect only the marginal areas of the lexicon; moreover, the reading of many words has been obscured by Sumarian and Akkadian ideograms. Research has been greatly hampered by the deficiencies of cuneiform writing, which was ill-suited to Hittite phonology; in particular, many questions remain unanswered regarding consonant shift and the vowel system.
REFERENCESIvanov, V. V. Khettskii iazyk. Moscow, 1963.
Ivanov, V. V. Obshcheindoevropeiskaia, praslavianskaia i anatoliiskaia iazykovye sistemy. Moscow, 1965.
Friedrich, J. Kratkaia grammatika khettskogo iazyka. Moscow, 1952. (Translated from German.)
Kammenhuber, A. “Zur Stellung des Hethitisch-Luvischen innerhalb der indogermanischen Gemeinsprache.” Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung, 1961, vol. 77.
Gusmani, R. II lessico ittito. Naples, 1971.
A. A. KOROLEV