The syntax of Anatolian: The simple sentence

Table of Contents:
  • 1. Clause structure 3. Compound predicates
  • 2. The subject 4. References

Clause structure

For reasons of space I limit myself to discussing the syntax of the simple sentence, including clause structure, word order, the coding of the subject relation, and compound verb forms. I leave out of account such topics as the use of cases, possessive constructions, clause conjunction, and subordination. An overview of subordination in Hittite can be found in Hoffner and Melchert (2008: 414-429). On relative clauses in Hittite, see further Held (1957), Justus (1972), and Garrett (1994), which also contains a discussion of relative clauses in Lycian. On complex adverbial subordination, see Zeilfelder (2002). Complement clauses are infrequent in Hittite and only appear in relatively late texts, see Cotticelli-Kurras (1995).

Word order

Two phenomena are characteristic of Anatolian clause structure, i.e. basic OV order and Wackernagel’s Law. The OV character of the Anatolian languages implies that the right sentence boundary is marked, in the vast majority of cases, by the occurrence of a finite verb form. The left sentence boundary, in its turn, is taken by second position, or P2, enclitics, which follow Wackernagel’s Law, and are hosted by the first word (less frequently first constituent) in the sentence. Note that Lycian is exceptional among the Anatolian languages, because its basic word order is VO; accordingly, it will be discussed after the other languages.

Typical Anatolian simple sentences are the following:

(1) piran=ma= at= mu mDXXX.DU-as DUMU mzida

before conn 3sg.n/a 1sg.obl T.:nom child Z.


administer:3 sg.pret.iter

‘Before me Armadatta, the son of Zida, had administered it.’

KUB 1.1 i 28 (Hittite);

(2) [tiy]ammis=pa=ti [t]ap-PIS-sa naw[a a]yari

earth:NOM conn ptc heaven:NOM neg become:3sG.PRS

‘And the earth does not become heaven.’ KUB 35.54 ii 43-44 (Cun. Luvian);

(3) ni= pa= si musanti

neg ptc 3pl.obl satisfy:3PL.PRS

‘They cannot be satisfied.’ KUB 32.18 9 (Palaic);

(4) fak= m= X= it= in qXdan=k artimu=k

conn conn 3sg.dat ptc ptc g:NOM and d.:NOM and katsarlokid


‘May the gods QAdans and Artemis bring destruction to him.’ 23.10 (Lydian).

Sentence (4) has the left boundary marked by a connective which hosts second-position enclitics, whereas in the other sentences different types of words are placed in initial position, followed by the enclitics.

Since the subject of an Anatolian sentence can be zero or a Wackernagel enclitic, the verb is the only accented constituent which obligatorily occurs in a sentence. If enclitics occur in a sentence where the verb is the only accented constituent, they are hosted by the verb itself, as in example (5), which contains two verbs in the imperative, asyndetically coordinated, each of which hosts an enclitic particle:

(5) lalaidu= tta papraddu= tta take:3sG.iMP ptc chase:3sG.iMP ptc

‘Let him take (it and) chase (it).’ KUB 35.43 ii 12 (Cun. Luvian).

As noted above, Lycian displays a different sentence structure. Examples are:

(6) me= (e)ne tubidi qlaj ebi se Malija se

conn 3sg.obl strike:3PL.PRS precinct local and M.:nom and

tasa mintaha

oath:N/A.PL m. :adj.n/

‘The local precinct and Malija and the oaths of the minti will strike him.’

TL 75.5 (Lycian);

(7) ebenne xupa me= (e)ne prnnawate Trijetezi

this:ACC tomb:ACC conn 3sg.acc build:3sG.PRET T:nom ‘This tomb, Trijetezi built it.’ TL 8.1-2 (Lycian).

As shown in the examples, Lycian has second-position enclitics like the other Anatolian languages (note that among second-position enclitic pronouns, nominative forms are not attested in Lycian); however, given the high frequency of left dislocated constituents with clitic doubling, the structure of the left sentence boundary ends up looking quite different from that of the other Anatolian languages, as shown in example (7), where the left-dislocated constituent is followed by the particle me, cognate to Hittite -ma-, which hosts a clitic that is coreferential to the left-dislocated constituent. This pattern is not commonly found in the other Anatolian languages (Garrett, 1994: 38 quotes a few examples from Hittite, which however look quite different). In example (6), the verb precedes all the other constituents of the sentence; the connective and the enclitics still precede the verb in such passages. A few similar examples are available from the other Anatolian languages, as in (8), with the verb following and initial connective, and in (9):

(8) a= ta piyatta immarassa DIM-ti

conn 3sg.n/a give:3sG.PRET wilderness:ADJ.D/L weather:god.D/L

‘He gave it to the Weather God.’ KUB 35.54 ii 37 (Cun. Luvian),

(9) qis= it fensXibid esX vanaX buk esX mruX

who:NOM ptc damage:3sG.PRS this:DAT tomb:DAT or this:DAT stele:DAT

‘Whoever damages this tomb or this stele.’ 3.4-5 (Lydian).

The examples in (6) and (7) seem to point toward a different basic order for Lycian with respect to the SOV order of the other Anatolian languages. However, as noted in Daues (2009), the fact that our knowledge of Lycian relies to such a high extent on tomb inscriptions certainly has a bearing on attested word order patterns.

Basic word order in Lydian is apparently OV, except in poetic texts, which, albeit potentially interesting, are at present too poorly understood to allow speculations based on them.

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