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Pre-Classical Anatolian Languages in Contact

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - PALaC (Pre-Classical Anatolian Languages in Contact)

Reporting period: 2021-02-01 to 2022-07-31

The aim of the PALaC project is to provide a systematic and complete study of language-contact in pre-classical Anatolia, from the XVIII century BCE up the Anatolian and Syro-Anatolian cultures of the Iron ages. 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 will provide 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 interacted with each other, on the ideal boundary between the East and the West. PALaC deals with the analysis of the textual data from the different Ancient Anatolian corpora that will be assessed both from a linguistic and from a historical-philological perspective. The final results will also be integrated in the general framework of historical and cultural contact in the Ancient Mediterranean world by a dedicated work-package. The project will take advantage of the methodological expertise of a team of researchers who are well trained both in the philological and historical study of the Ancient Near Eastern texts and in the linguistic study of languages in contact.
Literature review and data collection: we have reviewed the scholarly literature regarding language contact and historical-cultural contacts. Basing on the results of the review, we have identified relevant sub-corpora and collected the data. For the Middle Bronze age, the research concentrated on onomastic material and loanwords in the published Kaneš archives; for the Late Bronze Age, the Hittite archives have been studied, with particular attention for (a) the texts in foreign languages, (b) the multilingual texts, (c) the Hittite texts of the Empire period containing features that are likely to be derived from contact, (d) the (few but significant) possible cases of Anatolian loanwords and proper names in Mycenaean. For the Iron Age, we have examined the Lycian and Lydian corpora, with particular emphasis on the phenomena of contact with Greek, Aramaic and Persian; we have also studied Phrygian, because of its geographical (but not genealogical) appurtenance to the Anatolian environment (and because of the possible contacts with the Luvic world). As regards the Greek evidence, a particularly promising and methodologically innovative path of research regards the proper contextualization of the material deriving from the later traditions (glosses, late literary materials), which has been labelled as "Anatolian" (e.g. Lydian or Phrygian) already by the ancient scholars. The database containing the forms studied by the team will be made available for download on the free and open-access repository Zenodo.

Organization of events: the first PALaC workshop "Languages and Cultures in Contact in the Ancient Mediterranean" took place in Verona on February 21-22, 2019. The seminar "Incontri sulla cultura e la lingua indo-europee" was organized in Verona on May 15-17, 2019. The second PALaC workshop "Languages and Cultures in Contact in the Ancient Mediterranean" was planned to take place on February 27-28, 2020, but the outbreak of the COVID-19 emergency in Northern Italy prevented it from taking place. A workshop on language contact in Anatolia within the international conference Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale was planned for July 2020 in Germany, in cooperation with Dr Zsolt Simon (Munich University, member of the DFG project EDiANA). Unfortunately, we had to cancel it due to the pandemic and it will be replaced by the publication of a volume of proceedings (that is currently being edited by us and written by the authors whose abstract had been approved and selected by Dr Simon and the PI).

Participation in conferences: the team member presented several papers at conferences. A list of the events that were attended or organized by the PALaC team is available at the project website

Publication of early and intermediate results: the work performed by the PALaC team of researchers led to the publication of large number of articles and chapters already during the first 30 months. A list (also including papers that are being evaluated or about to be submitted) is available at the project website

Implementation of project website: the project website is available at with a wiki subdomain containing our metalinguistic lexicon:
By the end of the project, PALaC will offer a comprehensive analysis of language contact, and, as a reflex, of cultural contact, in Pre-Classical Anatolia, starting from the Middle Bronze Age to the Late Iron Age. The project will also make significant incursions in the later evidence deriving from Hellenistic sources, ancient glosses and the works of ancient grammarians.
So far, PALaC has already produced significant innovative results. For the Bronze Age, the most significant result is a description of all the patterns of morphological adaptation of borrowed nominals in Hittite. An extensive article on this topic is currently in press for the proceedings of the 2019 Tagung of the Indogermanische Gesellschaft ("Grammatical categories in contact: Gender assignment criteria in the Hittite borrowings from the neighboring languages", forthcoming in the acts of the Arbeitstagung of the Indogermanische Gesellschaft, Ljubljana 2019).
Other significant results regard the analysis of Luvic onomastic material from the Middle Bronze Age texts from Kaneš (to appear in an article by the PI, "I luvi a Kaneš e i loro nomi", in the journal Aula Orientalis) and the multilingual lexical lists from Late Bronze Age Hattuša ("KUB 37.122: A Mesopotamian Lexical List?", in Vicino Oriente XXIII).
Regarding the Iron Age, the team was able to propose an interpretation of the Aramaic dialect of the Kingodom of Sa'mal as a language grammatically influenced by Luwian ("The population, the language and the history of Yadiya/Sam’al", in press in proceedings of the conference "Beyond Boundaries", Ascona 2018). Innovative proposals on evidence of Lycian-Greek contacts in multilingual documents have been made within Work Packages 2 and 3 ("Linguistic strategies in filiation formulas: data from Lycian-Greek bilingual texts", in Incontri Linguistici 42).
As regards the historical viewpoint, the most significant result is a new interpretation of the Aegean-Anatolian political and cultural contacts in the Final Bronze Age, which combines the linguistic evidence with the historical one. Innovative work is also being carried out on historical geography and areal connectivity in the Middle and Late Bronze age is producing innovative results on the chronology and location of the contacts between the main cultures (and therefore languages and traditions) within and around Anatolia.
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