Proto-Anatolian language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Proto-Anatolian)
Jump to: navigation, search

Proto-Anatolian is the proto-language from which Anatolian languages emerged. As with all other proto-languages, no attested writings have been found; the language has been reconstructed by applying the comparative method to all the attested Anatolian languages as well as other Indo-European languages.


For the most part, Proto-Anatolian has been reconstructed on the basis of Hittite, the best-attested Anatolian language. However, the usage of Hittite cuneiform writing system limits the enterprise of understanding and reconstructing Anatolian phonology, partly due to the deficiency of the adopted Akkadian cuneiform syllabary to represent Hittite sounds, and partly due to the Hittite scribal practices.

This especially pertains to what appears to be confusion of voiceless and voiced dental stops, where signs -dV- and -tV- are employed interchangeably in different attestations of the same word.[1] Furthermore, in the syllables of the structure VC only the signs with voiceless stops as usually used. Distribution of spellings with single and geminated consonants in the oldest extant monuments indicates that the reflexes of PIE voiceless stops were spelled as double consonants and the reflexes of PIE voiced stops as single consonants. This regularity is the most consistent in the case of dental stops in older texts;[1] later monuments often show irregular variation of this rule.


Common Anatolian preserves PIE vowel system basically intact. Some[2] cite the merger of PIE */o/ and (marginal and sometimes disputed) */a/ as a Common Anatolian innovation, but according to Melchert[3] that merger was secondary shared innovation in Hittite, Palaic and Luvian, but not in Lycian. Concordantly, Common Anatolian had the following short vowel segments: */i/, */u/, */e/, */o/ and */a/.

The status of the opposition between long and short vowels is not 100% clear, but it is known for certain that it does not continue PIE contrast: Hittite spelling varies in a way that makes it very hard to establish which vowels were inherently long and which short. Even with older texts being apparently more conservative and consistent in notation, there are significant variations in vowel length in different forms of the same lexeme.[4] It has been thus suggested by Carruba (1981) that the so-called scriptio plena represents not long vowels, but rather stressed vowels, reflecting the position of free PIE accent. Carruba's interpretation is not universally accepted; according to Melchert, the only function of scriptio plena is to indicate vowel quantity; according to him the Hittite a/ā contrasts inherits diphonemic Proto-Anatolian contrast, */ā/ reflecting PIE */o/, */a/ and */ā/, and Proto-Anatolian */a/ reflecting PIE */a/. According to Melchert, the lengthening of accented short vowels in open syllables cannot be Proto-Anatolian, and neither can lengthening in accented closed syllables.[5]




  1. ^ a b Luraghi 1998:174
  2. ^ Lauraghi 1998:174
  3. ^ Melchert 1993:244
  4. ^ Lauraghi 1998:192
  5. ^ Melchert 1994:76


See also[edit]