Hittite — 1700 BC?, Turkey

Hittite cuneiform "ya"

In around 1700BC, the Hittites adapted Assyrian cuneiform (which was basically just Akkadian cuneiform which had been around long enough to evolve slightly) to their language.  They only took about half of the symbols from Assyrian cuneiform, of which roughly half were syllables and half logograms.

Hittite used determinatives, all of which were Sumerian logograms that the Akkadians/Assyrians had incorporated into their own writing.  Yes, 1500 years after the development of Sumerian cuneiform, after three different changes in language (Sumerian->Akkadian->Assyrian->Hittite), the Sumerian maintained a recognizable identity.

One interesting thing about Hittite cuneiform is that there were words that the Hittites borrowed from Assyrian which the Assyrians spelled phonetically, but which the Hittites used as logograms.

Links: Wikipedia, Ancient Scripts

About ducky

I'm a computer programmer professionally, currently working on mapping applications. I have been interested non-professionally for a long time in the effect on society on advances in communications technology -- things like writing, vowels, spaces between words, paper, etc.
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2 Responses to Hittite — 1700 BC?, Turkey

  1. One interesting thing about Hittite cuneiform is that there were words that the Hittites borrowed from Assyrian which the Assyrians spelled phonetically, but which the Hittites used as logograms.

    I’m not sure what you mean with that. Taking Sumerian as Greek, Assyrian as French and Hittite as English, do you mean:

    1) Assyrian had a word for “book” (“livre”), which they spelled phonetically (“li-v-re”). Hittite, on the other hand, spells their word not “bu-k” but instead borrowed a Sumerian logogram which was read “biblos” in the original Sumerian and decided to read it “book” instead.

    2) Assyrian had a word for “book” (“livre”), which they spelled phonetically (“li-v-re”). Hittite borrowed those characters but instead of reading them “livre”, decided that this particular sequence of phonetic characters was to be read “buk”, since it means “book”. So in this particular sequence, the characters are not phonetic but the entire sequence of (theoretically-phonetic) characters acts as an extended logogram.

    3) Something else.

    • ducky says:

      Philip — #2. Hitte borrowed the characters that the Assyrians used for X, and dropped them in as a logogram. I thought of using the example of dropping the hiragana forX (“book”, in your example) into English text, but that just doesn’t make sense in English.

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