Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:

$34724

Still Needed:

$40276

Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington


Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
compass logo


Wiley-Blackwell Language & Linguistics Compass Discussion Forum



Post a comment about this article!
 
Title: Local Adverbs in Hittite: Synchrony and Diachrony – historical and comparative
Author(s): H. Craig Melchert
Journal Title: Language and Linguistics Compass
Volume: 3
Issue: 2
Page Range: 607 - 620
Publication Date: Mar-2009
Abstract: Words expressing spatial relationships in Hittite are synchronically adverbs, not case forms of nouns as sometimes alleged. They are attested in three distinct syntactic roles: postpositions, preverbs, and freestanding adverbs. Some of these local adverbs are inherited from Proto-Indo-European, while others reflect petrified case forms of nouns. Postpositions from inherited local adverbs originally were construed with the dative-locative, while those from nouns took the genitive. The agreement patterns of enclitic possessive pronouns with postpositions show that the nominal postpositions developed variously from dative-locative, ablative, and accusative case forms. By attested Hittite, the postpositions from inherited adverbs and those from nominal case forms have mutually influenced each other's syntax, and both sets can be construed either with the dative-locative or with the genitive (including enclitic possessives).

See FULL TEXT
Click here to
read the FULL TEXT of this article on Wiley-Blackwell Language & Linguistics Compass!


Comment Board

Join the Discussion!

Competing grammars in early languages (?)   by Nikolaos Lavidas , 7-Jul-11
The article "Local adverbs in Hittite: synchrony and diachrony" discusses the much-debated issue of local adverbs or nouns of Hittite. Melchert shows, with specific examples, how difficult it is to analyze syntactic aspects in an ancient language without native speakers, and provides us with ways in which syntactic analysis of an ancient language can be achieved. The question that runs through the whole article is whether we should treat Hittite as an archaic language or as a language with many innovative characteristics. Melchert presents strong evidence that the types under discussion are adverbs and not nouns, but he cannot deny that some of them reflect "petrified" case forms of nouns. As a result, he concludes that "Hittite shows in its local adverbs a mixture of archaisms and innovations". The remark is of great importance as it may be in accordance with the idea of "competing grammars" as used to explain the development of many more recent languages (see, for example, Pintzuk, S. 1991: Phrase Structures in Competition: Variation and Change in Old English Word Order. PhD dissertation, University of Pennsylvania; Kroch, A. 1994: "Morphosyntactic variation", in Papers from the 30th Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistics Society: Parasession on Variation and Linguistic Theory, pp. 180-201, Chicago, IL: Chicago Linguistic Society, or, on "competing grammars" in Greek dialects, Malikouti-Drachman, A. 2008: "Spontaneous gemination and other wonders in Greek dialects", in New Perspectives in Greek Linguistics, pp. 35-64, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing): that means that the debated characteristics of Hittite can be analyzed as the result of an on-going "battle" between the older grammar (case-marked nouns that denote locality) and the new grammar (local adverbs). Of course, the questions that arise are: first, to which extend the concept of "competing grammars" can cover the relevant characteristics and mixture in Hittite (again, the limitations of an analysis based on finite written corpora); and, second, how case assignment to complements of the specific types (dative/locative case with types derived from adverbs – genitive case with types derived from nouns) can be incorporated (as it seems it can) in the general concept of "competing grammars".
Add your voice!
Use the form below to post your own comment to this discussion.
Required fields are marked by a *
(Email addresses will not be displayed)
Display Name:
* First name:
* Last Name:
* Email:
* Subject:
* Comment:
* Comment must be less than 4,000 characters
To prevent the use of this form by spam robots, please fill in this (case-sensitive) password:
CAPTCHA Image