Hittite cuneiform
Hittite cuneiform is the implementation of cuneiform script
Cuneiform script
Cuneiform script )) is one of the earliest known forms of written expression. Emerging in Sumer around the 30th century BC, with predecessors reaching into the late 4th millennium , cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs...

 used in writing the Hittite language
Hittite language
Hittite is the extinct language once spoken by the Hittites, a people who created an empire centred on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia...

. The surviving corpus of Hittite texts
Hittite texts
The corpus of texts written in the Hittite language is indexed by the Catalogue des Textes Hittites...

 is preserved in cuneiform on clay tablets dates to the 2nd millennium BC
2nd millennium BC
The 2nd millennium BC marks the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age.Its first half is dominated by the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and Babylonia. The alphabet develops. Indo-Iranian migration onto the Iranian plateau and onto the Indian subcontinent propagates the use of the chariot...

 (roughly spanning the 17th to 12th centuries).

Hittite orthography was directly adapted from Old Assyrian
Old Assyrian
Old Assyrian refers to the Old Assyrian period of the Ancient Near East, ca. 20th to 16th centuries BC *the Old Assyrian Empire, see Assyrian Empire*the Old Assyrian language, see Akkadian language...

 cuneiform. The HZL of Rüster and Neu lists 375 cuneiform signs used in Hittite documents (11 of them only appearing in Hurrian and Hattic
Hattic may refer to:* An ancient people of Anatolia, the Hattians.* An extinct language spoken in that region, the Hattic language....

 glosses), compared to some 600 signs in use in Old Assyrian. About half of the signs have syllabic values, the remaining are used as ideograms or logogram
A logogram, or logograph, is a grapheme which represents a word or a morpheme . This stands in contrast to phonograms, which represent phonemes or combinations of phonemes, and determinatives, which mark semantic categories.Logograms are often commonly known also as "ideograms"...

s to represent the entire word -- much as the characters "$", "%" and "&" are used in contemporary English.

Cuneiform signs can be employed in three functions: syllabograms, Akkadograms or Sumerogram
A Sumerogram is the use of a Sumerian cuneiform character or group of characters as an ideogram or logogram rather than a syllabogram in the graphic representation of a language other than Sumerian, such as Akkadian or Hittite....

s. Syllabograms are characters that represent a syllable
A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. For example, the word water is composed of two syllables: wa and ter. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus with optional initial and final margins .Syllables are often considered the phonological "building...

. Akkadograms and Sumerograms are ideogram
An ideogram or ideograph is a graphic symbol that represents an idea or concept. Some ideograms are comprehensible only by familiarity with prior convention; others convey their meaning through pictorial resemblance to a physical object, and thus may also be referred to as pictograms.Examples of...

s originally from the earlier Akkadian or Sumerian orthography respectively, but not intended to be pronounced as in the original language; Sumerograms are mostly ideograms and determiners
A determinative, also known as a taxogram or semagram, is an ideogram used to mark semantic categories of words in logographic scripts which helps to disambiguate interpretation. They have no direct counterpart in spoken language, though they may derive historically from glyphs for real words, and...

. Conventionally,
  • syllabograms are transcribed in italic lowercase
  • Akkadograms in italic uppercase
  • Sumerograms in roman uppercase.

Thus, the sign GI 𒄀 can be used (and transcribed) in three ways, as the Hittite syllable gi (also ge); in the Akkadian spelling QÈ-RU-UB of the preposition "near" as QÈ, and as the Sumerian ideogram GI for "tube" also in superscript, GI, when used as a determiner.


The syllabary
A syllabary is a set of written symbols that represent syllables, which make up words. In a syllabary, there is no systematic similarity between the symbols which represent syllables with the same consonant or vowel...

 consists of single vowels, vowels preceded by a consonant (conventionally represented by the letters CV), vowels followed by a consonant (VC), or consonants in both locations (CVC). This system distinguishes the following consonants (notably dropping the Akkadian s series),
b, p, d, t, g, k, ḫ, r, l, m, n, š, z,

combined with the vowels a, e, i, u. Additional ya (=I.A 𒄿𒀀), wa (=PI 𒉿) and wi (=wi5=GEŠTIN 𒃾 "wine") signs are introduced. The contrast of the Assyrian voiced
Voice (phonetics)
Voice or voicing is a term used in phonetics and phonology to characterize speech sounds, with sounds described as either voiceless or voiced. The term, however, is used to refer to two separate concepts. Voicing can refer to the articulatory process in which the vocal cords vibrate...

/unvoiced series (k/g, p/b, t/d) is not used to express the voiced/unvoiced contrast in Hittite; they are used somewhat interchangeably in some words, while other words are spelled consistently. The contrast in these cases is not entirely clear, and several interpretations of the underlying phonology have been proposed.

Similarly, the purpose of inserting an additional vowel between syllabograms (often referred to as "plene writing" of vowels) is not clear. Examples of this practice include the -a- in iš-ḫa-a-aš "master" or in la-a-man "name", ú-i-da-a-ar "waters". In some cases, it may indicate an inherited long vowel (lāman, cognate to Latin nōmen; widār, cognate to Greek hudōr), but it may also have other functions connected with word accent.


b- d- g- ḫ- k- l- m- n- p- r- š- t- w- y- z-
-a a 𒀀 ba 𒁀 da 𒁕 ga 𒂵 ḫa 𒄩 ka 𒅗 la 𒆷 ma 𒈠 na 𒈾 pa 𒉺 ra 𒊏 ša 𒊭 ta 𒋫 wa 𒉿 ya 𒄿𒀀 za 𒍝
-e e 𒂊 be 𒁁 de 𒁲 ge 𒄀 ḫe 𒄭, ḫé 𒃶 ke 𒆠 le 𒇷 me 𒈨, mé 𒈪 ne 𒉈, né 𒉌 pé 𒁉 re 𒊑 še 𒊺 te 𒋼 ze 𒍣, zé 𒍢
-i i 𒄿 bi 𒁉 di 𒁲 gi 𒄀 ḫi 𒄭 ki 𒆠 li 𒇷 mi 𒈪 ni 𒉌 pí 𒁉 ri 𒊑 ši 𒅆 ti 𒋾 wi5 𒃾 zi 𒍣
-u u 𒌋, ú 𒌑 bu 𒁍 du 𒁺 gu 𒄖 ḫu 𒄷 ku 𒆪 lu 𒇻 mu 𒈬 nu 𒉡 pu 𒁍 ru 𒊒 šu 𒋗, šú 𒋙 tu 𒌅 zu 𒍪


-b -d -g -ḫ -k -l -m -n -p -r -š -t
a- a 𒀀 ab 𒀊 ad 𒀜 ag 𒀝 aḫ 𒀪 ak 𒀝 al 𒀠 am 𒄠 an 𒀭 ap 𒀊 ar 𒅈 aš 𒀸 at 𒀜 az 𒊍
e- e 𒂊 eb 𒅁 ed 𒀉 eg 𒅅 eḫ 𒀪 ek 𒅅 el 𒂖 em 𒅎 en 𒂗 ep 𒅁 er 𒅕 eš 𒌍, 𒐁 et 𒀉 ez 𒄑
i- i 𒄿 ib 𒅁 id 𒀉 ig 𒅅 iḫ 𒀪 ik 𒅅 il 𒅋 im 𒅎 in 𒅔 ip 𒅁 ir 𒅕 iš 𒅖 it 𒀉 iz 𒄑
u- u 𒌋, ú 𒌑 ub 𒌒 ud 𒌓 ug 𒊌 uḫ 𒀪 uk 𒊌 ul
um 𒌝 un 𒌦 up 𒌒 ur 𒌨, úr 𒌫 uš 𒍑 ut 𒌓 uz 𒍖


  • Ḫ: ḫal 𒄬 ; ḫab/p 𒆸 ; ḫaÅ¡ 𒋻; ḫad/t 𒉺 (=pa, PA "sceptre); ḫul (=ḪUL "evil"); ḫub/p 𒄽; ḫur 𒄯 (ḪUR="thick", MUR "lung")
  • K/G: gal 𒃲 (=GAL "great"); kal,gal9 𒆗; kam/gám 𒄰 (=TU7 "soup"); k/gán 𒃷 (=GÁN "field"); kab/p,gáb/p 𒆏 (=KAB "left"); kar (=KAR "find"); k/gàr 𒃼; k/gaÅ¡ 𒁉 (=bi, KAÅ  "beer"); k/gad/t 𒃰 (=GAD "linen"); gaz 𒄤 (=GAZ "kill"); kib/p ; k/gir 𒄫; kiÅ¡ 𒆧 (=KIÅ  "world"); kid/t9 𒃰 (=gad); kal 𒆗 (=KAL "strong"); kul 𒆰 (=KUL "offspring"); kúl,gul 𒄢 (=GUL "break"); k/gum 𒄣; kur 𒆳 (=KUR "land"); kùr/gur 𒄥
  • L: lal 𒇲 (=LAL "bind"); lam 𒇴; lig/k 𒌨 (=ur); liÅ¡ 𒇺 (=LIÅ  "spoon"); luḫ 𒈛 (=LUḪ "minister"); lum 𒈝
  • M: maḫ 𒈤 (=MAḪ "great"); man (=MAN "20"); mar 𒈥; maÅ¡ 𒈦 (=MAÅ  "half"); meÅ¡ (="90") ; mil/mel 𒅖 (=iÅ¡); miÅ¡ 𒈩 ; mur 𒄯 (=ḫur); mut (=MUD "blood")
  • N: nam 𒉆 (=NAM "district"); nab/p 𒀮; nir 𒉪; niÅ¡ (=man)
  • P/B: p/bal 𒁄; pár/bar 𒈦 (=maÅ¡); paÅ¡ ; pád/t,píd/t 𒁁; p/bíl 𒉋 (=GIBIL "new"); pir ; p/biÅ¡,pùš 𒄫 (=gir); p/bur
  • R: rad/t 𒋥; riÅ¡ 𒊕 (=Å¡ag)
  • Å : Å¡aḫ 𒋚 (=Å UBUR "pig"); Å¡ag/k 𒊕 (=SAG "head"); Å¡al 𒊩 (=MUNUS "woman"); Å¡am 𒌑 (=ú); šàm ; Å¡ab/p ; Å¡ar 𒊬 (=SAR "plant"); šìp ; Å¡ir 𒋓 (=Å IR "testicles"); Å¡um 𒋳; Å¡ur 𒋩
  • T/D: t/daḫ, túḫ 𒈭; tág/k,dag/k 𒁖; t/dal 𒊑 (=ri); tám/dam 𒁮 (=DAM "wife"); t/dan 𒆗 (=kal); tab/p,dáb/p 𒋰 (=TAB "2") ; tar 𒋻; t/dáš,t/diÅ¡ 𒁹 ("1") ; tàš 𒀾; tin/tén 𒁷; t/dim 𒁴 ; dir (=DIR "red") ; tir/ter 𒌁 (=TIR "forest") ; tíš ; túl 𒇥; t/dum 𒌈; t/dub/p 𒁾 (=DUB "clay tablet") ; túr/dur 𒄙 (=DUR "strip")
  • Z: zul 𒂄; zum 𒍮


A determinative, also known as a taxogram or semagram, is an ideogram used to mark semantic categories of words in logographic scripts which helps to disambiguate interpretation. They have no direct counterpart in spoken language, though they may derive historically from glyphs for real words, and...

 are Sumerograms that are not pronounced but indicate the class or nature of a noun for clarity, e.g. in URUḪa-at-tu-Å¡a
Hattusa was the capital of the Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age. It was located near modern Boğazkale, Turkey, within the great loop of the Kızıl River ....

 (𒌷𒄩𒀜𒌅𒊭) the URU is a determiner marking the name of a city, and the pronunciation is simply /hattusa/. Sumerograms proper on the other hand are ideograms intended to be pronounced in Hittite.
  • m, I ("1", DIÅ ) 𒁹, male personal names
  • DIDLI 𒀸 (suffixed), plural or collective
  • DIDLI ḪI.A 𒀸𒄭𒀀 (suffixed), plural
    Dingir is a cuneiform sign, most commonly the determinative for "deity" although it has related meanings as well. As a determinative, it is not pronounced, and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript "D" as in e.g. DInanna...

     (D) 𒀭 "deity"
  • DUG 𒂁 "vessel"
  • É
    É (temple)
    É is the Sumerian word or symbol for house or temple, written ideographically with the cuneiform sign .The Sumerian term É.GAL denoted a city's main building....

     ð’‚ "house"
  • GAD 𒃰 "linen, cloth"
  • GI 𒄀 "tube; reed"
  • GIÅ  𒄑 "wood"
  • GUD 𒄞 "bovid"
  • ḪI.A 𒄭𒀀(suffixed), plural
  • ḪUR.SAG 𒄯𒊕 "mountain"
  • ÍD "river"
  • IM 𒅎 "clay"
  • ITU 𒌚 "month"
  • KAM 𒄰 (suffixed), numerals
  • KI ð’†  (suffixed), in some placenames
  • KU6 𒄩 "fish"
  • KUR ð’†³ "land"
  • KUÅ  𒋢 "hide, fur"
  • LÚ 𒇽 "man"
  • MEÅ  𒈨𒌍 (suffixed), plural
  • MEÅ  ḪI.A 𒈨𒌍𒄭𒀀 (suffixed), plural
  • MUL 𒀯 "star"
  • MUNUS (f) 𒊩 "woman", female personal name
  • MUÅ  𒈲 "serpent"
  • MUÅ EN 𒄷 (suffixed) "bird"
  • NA4 "stone"
  • NINDA 𒃻 "bread"
  • PÚ "source"
  • SAR 𒊬 (suffixed) "plant"
  • SI 𒋛 "horn"
  • SÍG 𒋠 "wool"
  • TU7 𒄰 "soup"
  • TÚG 𒌆 "garment"
  • Ú 𒌑 "plant"
  • URU ð’Œ· "city"
  • URUDU 𒍐 "copper"
  • UZU 𒍜 "meat"

External links

  • FreeIdgSerif includes Unicode cuneiform for Hittite (GFDL, branched off FreeSerif)
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