Etymological Dictionaries for Anatolian Languages.

Remember my post about Matthew Scarborough’s Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries: A Guide for the Perplexed? It ended with “I can’t wait for the promised coverage of handbooks for individual languages/branches!” That promised coverage has begun with Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries for the Perplexed: Anatolian Languages, and it’s just as wonderful as I expected. It’s mostly Hittite, of course, but I didn’t realize there was so much material:

The two main comprehensive dictionary projects are the Chicago Hittite Dictionary (CHD) based at and published by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, and the second edition of Johannes Friedrich’s Hethitisches Wörterbuch (HW²) which is currently based at Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität München and funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (regarding the first edition, see further below). […] Awhile back the Oriental Institute recently made all of their publications freely downloadable from their website, including much (if not all?) of their back-catalogue, so all of the CHD volumes are freely available to download from their website. The HW² is only published in print form through Winter Verlag, so it is somewhat more difficult to access unless you have access to a good research library or are the sort of person who has/is willing to shell out hundreds of euros it costs to buy the fascicles outright from Winter Verlag.

At present, the CHD and HW² still do not cover the latter half of Š, and T, U, U̯, and Z. For these letters, there are two shorter single-volume dictionaries that are occasionally useful. […] Johannes Friedrich’s Kurzgefaßtes Hethitisches Wörterbuch [Concise Hittite Dictionary] originally published between 1953–1956 is the only really complete single-volume dictionary. There are three further Ergänzungshefte [supplementary volumes] that were later published and bound together with it in the 1991 Winter Verlag reprint. More recent is Johann Tischler’s Hethitisches Handwörterbuch [Concise Hittite Dictionary] which is also a useful, more recent shorter dictionary, but it lacks lists of the different inflected forms in cuneiform transliteration, for which Friedrich (1966) is still more useful.

But the really fun stuff is the etymological dictionaries, of which there are three, count ’em, three, “either recently completed, or still in the works”:

These are Johann Tischler’s Hethitisches Etymologisches Glossar (Innsbruck, 1977–2016), Jaan Puhvel’s Hittite Etymological Dictionary (Berlin & New York, 1984–), and Alwin Kloekhorst’s Etymological Dictionary of the Hittite Inherited Lexicon. All three of these works have their own particular approaches to the Hittite lexicon in terms of their breadth of coverage of the lexicon, their interpretation of the philological data, and their systems of Indo-European reconstruction.

There is detailed discussion of each, with page scans, including the entry ḫāran- ‘eagle’ so you can directly compare them. He ends with a section on Anatolian languages other than Hittite; it all makes me want to relearn cuneiform and have a go at these long-forgotten languages.


  1. For example, plene spelling of vowels in Anatolian cuneiform documents are often debated whether they should be interpreted in terms of vowel length, or the placement of the word accent, or representing both in different contexts.

    This is ungrammatical for me.

    The draft of a paper by Craig Melchert makes interesting reading for a total stranger to the field like me.

  2. This is ungrammatical for me.

    For me as well. I wonder if it’s a professional hazard of spending so much time reading the kinds of things you have to read for IE studies?

  3. Trond Engen says:

    An editing error? That ‘are’ has a singular referent too.

  4. January First-of-May says:

    An editing error? That ‘are’ has a singular referent too.

    I thought that was the error Bathrobe was referring to, but on a careful look the “are debated whether they…” part wouldn’t work for me either (even if the referent was plural).

  5. Exactly. Something’s gone wrong somewhere.

  6. I probably either mentally thought ‘plene spellings’ as a plural or just made an agreement error and missed that when proofreading myself. Sorry guys. I find is/are agreement errors are some of the most common mistakes I make in writing.

  7. No need to apologize — it’s hard to proofread one’s own stuff!

  8. Trond Engen says:

    I make those all the time, especially when I’m rewriting sentences. And it’s not the most important part of a good post in a very interesting series. It’s just what we start talking about when we wait for someone able to comment on the actual topic.

    I’ve read the Melchert paper. Dense stuff, so I get the general message but few details. But I’ll say that I like his not-quite-a-notation PIE, PIE – 1, PIE – 2 etc.

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