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Pre-Classical Anatolian Languages in Contact

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - PALaC (Pre-Classical Anatolian Languages in Contact)

Reporting period: 2022-08-01 to 2023-07-31

The aim of the PALaC project has been to provide a systematic and complete study of language-contact in pre-classical Anatolia, from the XVIII century BCE up to the Anatolian and Syro-Anatolian cultures of the Iron ages and the Hellenization of Asia Minor. Language contact is a specific phenomenon present in all phases of modern and historical languages, and requires to be investigated using the language-internal methodologies of contact-linguistics. The project has provided a rigorous and complete description of the linguistic interactions in ancient Anatolia, a unique historical and geographical gateway where Indo-European, Semitic and isolated languages and the people who spoke them interacted with each other, on the ideal boundary between the East and the West. PALaC analyzed the textual data from the different Ancient Anatolian corpora assessing them from a linguistic and philological perspective. The final results have also been integrated in the framework of historical and cultural contact in the Ancient Mediterranean by a dedicated work-package. The project has profited from the expertise of a team of researchers who are well trained both the philological and historical study of the Ancient Near Eastern texts and in the linguistic study of languages in contact, thereby highlighting the importance of this type of research in order to explore a fundamental feature of the human past.
PALaC performed an initial review of the scholarly literature on language contact (WP 1, 2 and 3) as well as historical-cultural contacts (WP 4), which was completed during the first Reporting Period (except for the new titles that appeared later during the course of the project). Then, the team has identified the sub-corpora of interest, collected the data and started publishing initial results. For the Middle Bronze age (2000-1650 BCE ca.), we concentrated on onomastic and lexical material in the published Kanesh archives, with particular reference to Luwic names and Hurrian and Anatolian forms attested in Assyrian. For the Late Bronze Age (1650-1180 BCE ca.), the Hittite archives were examined, concentrating on (a) the texts in foreign languages, (b) the multilingual texts, (c) the Hittite texts of the Empire period , (d) the possible cases of Anatolian loanwords and personal names in Mycenaean; (e) the presence of multilingual glosses in scientific and technical texts composed in Akkadian, their origin and degree of integration. For the Iron Age, PALaC examined the Lycian and Lydian corpora, looking for phenomena of contact with Greek and with Eastern languages such as Aramaic and Persian; Phrygian, because of its geographical collocation in an Anatolian context, was also studied. Regarding Greek, PALaC researched (a) Mycenaean and Homeric, (b) the Pre-Greek substrate and its connection to Anatolian, (c) lexical borrowings in Greek, and (d) glosses and their role in the study of language contact.
The tabular database is available for download on the free and open-access repository Zenodo. It also includes the geo-historical and thematic maps of the area that PALaC produced. The current version of the online metalinguistic lexicon of language contact in the ancient world is available at
Dissemination and publication of results included:
(1) Conferences. PALaC organized 4 editions of the event “Languages and Cultures in Contact in the Ancient Mediterranean”, along with other smaller events. As regards the conferences in which we participated, the team member presented papers at a large number of national and international conferences. A list of all events that were attended by members of the PALaC team is available to
(2) Publications. The publications produced by PALaC are more numerous than originally planned, and the quality of the journals and volumes in which they appeared is very high. To date, PALaC produced: 36 papers and 2 monographic volumes that already appeared; ca. 10 papers that are in press ; 3 papers, 1 volume of proceedings and 1 monographic volume that are about to be submitted or currently in preparation. A full list is available at
3. Website. The project website is available at It will be maintained and enriched even after the end of the final reporting period of PALaC.
4. Media and Press. Press releases included: two video interviews by the PI ("Linguaggi e culture in contatto nell'area del Mediterraneo antico", Univrmagazine; "Federico Giusfredi vincitore di un ERC Starting Grant", Scienza in Rete); three articles ("Il contatto linguistico per indagare civiltà perdute", Scienza in rete; "Mediterraneo, culla di civiltà, intreccio di linguaggi e culture", L’Arena; "Linguaggi e culture in contatto nel Mediterraneo antico", Univrmagazine). Other media, apart the aforementioned video interviews, also included papers at online or hybrid international conferences that are now available online. All media are linked at
PALaC has carried out a complete analysis of language contact in Pre-Classical Anatolia, from the Middle Bronze Age until the Late Iron Age, with significant contributions also to the linguistic geography of the Hellenistic phase because of the detailed study of evidence pertaining to Lycian and Lydian, as well as for the methodological and data-oriented assessment of the value of glosses as evidence for contact, which most of the previous literature simply took for granted.
Regarding Bronze Age research, PALaC performed a general study of language contact in the Hittite archives, with reference to the previous Old Assyrian stage. Among other innovative results, we emphasize a better description of the sociolinguistic scenario of Middle Bronze Age Cappadocia, a thorough analysis of the problem of gender assignment in borrowings in Hittite, a new investigation of the sociolinguistic role of Akkadian in the Hittite world. More detail-oriented contributions are dedicated to specific loanwords, which shed new light on debated etymologies.
Regarding Iron Age, PALaC produced very innovative results on grammatical interference in the Syro-Anatolian world (Sam’al, Cilicia, Hama), as well as on the study of specific loanwords. Particularly important was the fine-grained study of adaptation of personal and place names in situations of contact.
The research on Iron Age and on the Greek interface converged when dealing with the contacts between Greek and the Anatolian languages of the first millennium. Research on the Greek interface also involved the study of loanwords in Greek and of Pre-Greek, of the problem of the alleged grammatical contacts between Greek and Anatolian, as well as an improved study of the significance of the ancient collections of glosses.
Finally, one of the most innovative aspects of PALaC was the presence of a historical work package. This line of research has produced an improved description of the intercultural contacts in and around Anatolia, with contributions that clarified cultural and geopolitical concepts separating them from linguistic ones, both at a general level and, in a detailed fashion, for a few specific regions in which linguistic and cultural contacts were intense (such as Central Anatolia for the Bronze Age; Cilicia, the Konya plain, and northern Syria for the Iron Age; the Aegean interface for both ages).
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