Languages

Hittite

Fact corner

Introduction

Hittite is the extinct language once spoken by the Hittites, a people who created an empire centered on ancient Hattusas (modern Boğazkale) in north-central Anatolia (modern Turkey). Hittite is an Anatolian language. The language was spoken from approximately 1600 BC (and probably before) to 1100 BC. There is some attestation that Hittite and related languages continued to be spoken in Anatolia for a few hundred years following the collapse of the Hittite empire and the last of the Hittite texts.

The verb

Compared with the classical languages, Greek and Latin, Hittite has a verb system that is fairly simple. There are two types of endings for active verbs: "mi-endings," which characterize the mi-conjugation and "hi-endings," which characterize the hi-conjugation. Both conjugations include verbs that are transitive, intransitive, and stative. The verb system has two voices, active and middle; the latter is also used as a passive. The verb also has two tenses, present and preterite, or past. The present, often accompanied by appropriate adverbs, is used for the future. The verb system also has two moods: indicative and imperative.

Sample -mi verb: ēs- 'to be'.

Present Preterite Imperative
Sg.1 ēs-mi ēs-un as-allu
Sg.2 ēs-si *ēs-ta ēs
Sg.3 ēs-zi ēs-ta ēs-tu
Pl.1 *as-weni ēs-wen -
Pl.2 *as-teni *ēs-ten ēs-ten
Pl.3 as-anzi ēs-er as-antu

Sample -hi verb: ār- 'to arrive'.

Present Preterite Imperative
Sg.1 ār-hi ār-hun
Sg.2 ār-ti *ār-ta *ār
Sg.3 ār-i ār-s ār-u
Pl.1 *ar-weni ar-wen -
Pl.2 ār-teni ār-tten
Pl.3 ar-anzi ār-er *ar-antu

References

  • Friedrich, Johannes. Hethitisches Elementarbuch. Indogermanische Bibliothek. Carl Winter's Universitätsbuchhandlung. Heidelberg. 1940.

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