Hittite grammar

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The grammar of the Hittite language has a highly conservative verbal system and rich nominal declension. The language is attested in cuneiform, and is one of the earliest attested Indo-European languages apart from Vedic Sanskrit.

Basic noun and adjective declension[edit]

The Hittite nominal system consists of the following cases: nominative, accusative, dative-locative, genitive, allative, ablative, and instrumental, and distinguishes between two numbers (singular and plural) and two genders, common (animate) and neuter (inanimate). The distinction between genders is fairly rudimentary, with a distinction generally being made only in the nominative case, and the same noun is sometimes attested in both genders.

The basic scheme of suffixation is given in the table below—valid for almost all nouns and adjectives. The example word shown is antuhsa meaning "man".

man c.
Singular Plural
Nominative antuhsas -s antuhses -es
Vocative antuhse -e antuhse -e
Accusative antuhsan -n antuhsus -us
Genitive antuhsas -as antuhsas -as
Dative/locative antuhsi -i antuhsas -as
Ablative antuhsaz(a) -az(a) antuhsaz(a) -az(a)
Ergative antuhsanza -anza antuhsantēs -antēs
Allative antuhsa -a antuhsa -as
Instrumental antuhsit -it antuhsit -it

Verb conjugation[edit]

When compared with other early-attested Indo-European languages, such as Ancient Greek language and Sanskrit, the verb system in Hittite is relatively morphologically uncomplicated. There are two general verbal classes according to which verbs are inflected, the mi-conjugation and the hi-conjugation. There are two voices (active and medio-passive), two moods (indicative and imperative), and two tenses (present and preterite).

Additionally, the verbal system displays two infinitive forms, one verbal substantive, a supine, and a participle. 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").

Basic conjugational endings are as follows:

mi-conj. hi-conj. mi-conj. hi-conj.
Indicative present
Sg. 1.
-mi -hi (-ahhi) -hahari (-hari, -ha) -hahari (-hari)
-si -ti -tati (-ta) -tati (-ta)
-zi -i -tari (-ta) -ari (-a)
Pl. 1.
-weni -weni -wastati (-wasta) -wastati (-wasta)
-teni -teni -duma (-dumari) -duma
-anzi -anzi -antari (-anta) -antari (-anta)
Indicative preterite
Sg. 1.
-un (-nun) -hun -hahat(i) (-hat(i)) -hahat(i) (-hat(i))
-s (-t, -ta) -s (-ta, -sta) -tat(i) (-ta) -at(i) (-tat)
-t (-ta) -s (-ta, -sta) -tat(i) (-ta) -at(i)
Pl. 1.
-wen -wen -wastat -
-ten (-tin) -ten (-tin) -dumat -dumat
-er (-ir) -er (-ir) -antat(i) -antat(i)
Sg. 1.
-(a)llu -allu -haharu (-haru) -haharu (-haru)
- (-i, -t) - (-i) -hut(i) -hut(i)
-du -u -taru -aru
Pl. 1.
-weni -weni - -
-ten (-tin) -ten (-tin) -dumat(i) -dumat(i)
-andu -andu -antaru -antaru
Verbal substantive Infinitive Supine Participle
-war I. -wanzi -wan -ant-
II. -anna


Introductions and overviews
  • Bryce, Trevor (1998). The Kingdom of the Hittites. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-924010-8. 
  • Bryce, Trevor (2002). Life and Society in the Hittite World. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-924170-8. 
  • Coulson, Michael (1986). Teach Yourself Sanskrit. Oxford: Hodder and Stoghton. ISBN 0-340-32389-2. 
  • Fortson, Benjamin W. (2004). Indo-European Language and Culture : an Introduction. Malden: Blackwell. ISBN 1-4051-0316-7. 
  • Goetze, Albrecht (1954). Review of: Johannes Friedrich, Hethitisches Wörterbuch (Heidelberg: Winter). Language 30.401-405.[1]
  • Sturtevant, Edgar H. (1931). Hittite glossary: words of known or conjectured meaning, with Sumerian ideograms and Accadian words common in Hittite texts. Language, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 3–82., Language Monograph No. 9.
  • Puhvel, Jaan (1984-). Hittite Etymological Dictionary. Berlin: Mouton.
  • Hoffner, Harry A.; Melchert, H. Craig (2008). A Grammar of the Hittite Language. Winona: Eisenbrauns. ISBN 1-57506-119-8. 
  • Hrozný, Bedřich (1917). Die Sprache der Hethiter: ihr Bau und ihre Zugehörigkeit zum indogermanischen Sprachstamm. Leipzig: Hinrichs. 
  • Jasanoff, Jay H. (2003). Hittite and the Indo-European Verb. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-924905-9. 
  • Luraghi, Silvia (1997). Hittite. Munich: Lincom Europa. ISBN 3-89586-076-X. 
  • Melchert, H. Craig (1994). Anatolian Historical Phonology. Amsterdam: Rodopi. ISBN 90-5183-697-X. 
  • Patri, Sylvain (2007). L'alignement syntaxique dans les langues indo-européennes d'Anatolie. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 978-3-447-05612-0. 
  • Rose, S. R. (2006). The Hittite -hi/-mi conjugations. Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachen und Literaturen der Universität Innsbruck. ISBN 3-85124-704-3. 
  • 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.
  • Watkins, Calvert (2004). "Hittite". The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages: 551–575. ISBN 0-521-56256-2. 
  • Yakubovich, Ilya (2010). Sociolinguistics of the Luwian Language. Leiden: Brill.
Text editions
Further information: Hittite texts
  • 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.
  • Knudtzon, J. A. (1902). Die Zwei Arzawa-Briefe: Die ältesten Urkunden in indogermanischer Sprache. Leipzig: Hinrichs. 
Journal articles
  • Hrozný, Bedřich (1915). "Die Lösung des hethitischen Problems". Mitteilungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft. 56: 17–50. 
  • Sturtevant, Edgar H. (1932). "The Development of the Stops in Hittite". Journal of the American Oriental Society. American Oriental Society. 52 (1): 1–12. doi:10.2307/593573. JSTOR 593573. 
  • Sturtevant, Edgar H. (1940). "Evidence for voicing in Hittite g". Language. Linguistic Society of America. 16 (2): 81–87. doi:10.2307/408942. JSTOR 408942. [2]
  • Wittmann, Henri (1969). "A note on the linguistic form of Hittite sheep". Revue hittite et asianique. 22: 117–118. [3]
  • Wittmann, Henri (1973) [1964]. "Some Hittite etymologies". Die Sprache. 10, 19: 144–148, 39–43. [4][5]
  • Wittmann, Henri (1969). "The development of K in Hittite". Glossa. 3: 22–26. [6]
  • Wittmann, Henri (1969). "A lexico-statistic inquiry into the diachrony of Hittite". Indogermanische Forschungen. 74: 1–10. [7]
  • Wittmann, Henri (1969). "The Indo-European drift and the position of Hittite". International Journal of American Linguistics. 35 (3): 266–268. doi:10.1086/465065. [8]