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Dissertation

The Hittite Inherited Lexicon

This dissertation attempts to describe the linguistic history of Hittite on the basis of a systematic etymological treatment of its entire inherited lexicon, precisely analyzing the phonological and morphological developments.

Author
Alwin Kloekhorst
Date
30 May 2007
Links
Full text in Leiden University Repository

Hittite (spoken in Turkey from 1650-1180 BC, written in cuneiform) is the best known member of the Anatolian language group, one of the twelve branches of the Indo-European language family. Since it is the oldest attested Indo-European language it is commonly regarded as very important for the reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European. Nevertheless, many aspects of the historical phonology of Hittite are debated. This dissertation therefore attempts to describe the linguistic history of Hittite on the basis of a systematic etymological treatment of its entire inherited lexicon, precisely analysing the phonological and morphological developments.

It falls into two parts. Part Two is called An Etymological Dictionary of the Hittite Inherited Lexicon and comprises the etymological treatments of the individual words. Part One is called Towards a Hittite Historical Grammar and consists of a chapter on the historical phonology, in which the synchronic phonological system of Hittite is discussed and the phonological developments are described that have taken place between the Proto-Indo-European and the Hittite language stage, and a chapter on historical morphology, in which the morphological developments are described that have taken place in the prehistory of Hittite. Especially the classification of verbs occupies a special place as several new interpretations of synchronic facts shed a fully new light on the diachronic development of the Hittite verbal system.

One of the most important conclusions of this dissertation is that the Anatolian branch to which Hittite belongs, was the first one to have split off from Proto-Indo-European and that all other Indo-European branches have undergone a period of common innovation. Therewith Anatolian and especially Hittite occupies a very important position within comparative Indo-European linguistics as it potentially has retained linguistic information that has vanished in all other Indo-European languages. This dissertation aims to be a helpful tool for the judgement of the Hittite material in this context. 

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