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Publicly Available Published by De Gruyter (A) November 29, 2016

‘I Took You Up, Ḫukkana, the Lowly Dog...’

An Introduction to Social Deixis in Hittite

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Bisher ist nicht systematisch untersucht worden, wie sozialer Status und gesellschaftliche Beziehungen im Hethitischen ausgedrückt werden. Der vorliegende Artikel soll deshalb diese Lücke, zumindest zum Teil, ausfüllen. Der erste Teil beschäftigt sich mit den Begriffen Deixis sowie soziale Deixis und gibt einen zum Thema relevanten Überblick zum hethitischen Korpus und dem Forschungskorpus. Es schließen sich Erörterungen zu den Termini soziale Macht und sozial mächtig im Hethitischen an. Die Untersuchung der Begriffe für relativen sozialen Status zeigt, dass die Hethiter oftmals gesellschaftliche Beziehungen mit Metaphern beschreiben, die auf räumlichen und physischen Beziehungen im menschlichen Umfeld basieren. Ferner wird dieses Ergebnis unterstützt durch Beschreibungen von Gesten, die solche sozialen Beziehungen durchspielen. Abschließend befasst sich die Autorin mit dem Gebrauch der sozialen Deixis der hethitischen Lokaladverbien und akkadischen Präpositionen mit den Bedeutungen „oben“, „darauf“, „unten“, „bevor“, „davor“ und „dahinter“.

1 Deixis and Social Deixis

The term deixis refers to words, grammatical forms and phrases with a fixed semantic, but variable denotational meaning. The denotational meaning can be fully understood only in the context or the speech-setting of the utterance. In other words, deictics are shifters, in the sense that the real world referents (the object, event, etc.) to which they refer are not fixed. According to Lyons (1977: 637) deixis implies “the location and identification of persons, objects, events, processes and activities being talked about, or referred to, in relation to the spatiotemporal context created and sustained by the act of utterance and the participation in it, typically, of a single speaker and at least one addressee.” The following types of deixis may be distinguished:

  1. person(al) deixis encodes the identity of communication participants

  2. place or spatial deixis encodes the place or places in which communication participants are situated

  3. time deixis refers to the encoding time of the message (the time when the message is being sent) and to the decoding time (the time at which the message is received)

  4. discourse deixis encodes references to portions of the unfolding discourse in which the utterance is located

  5. social deixis encodes social distinctions between communication participants and referents.[1]

These categories seem to be universal, but their linguistic encodings may differ from language to language.[2] Linguistic expressions that encode deictic information are called deictic expressions.Various types of deictic expressions can be shown using a translation of a Hittite letter:

Thus speaks the Priest: Say to Kaššū: § Concerning what you wrote to me as follows: “Your twenty people are in the environs? of the town Zikkašta. And because (my district) is the primary watchpoint, I will not give them to you on my own authority. Report them to the palace!” § I am now in the process of reporting my (missing) servants to the palace. And because the land of Kizzuwatna is (also) a primary watchpoint, if your servants come down here (from Tapikka), neither will I give them back to you![3]

The person(al) deictic expressions I and you refer respectively to the writer, who presents himself as the Priest, and the addressee, Kaššū; the discourse deictic expression as follows refers to the part of the letter being cited by the Priest, the time deictic expression now refers to the time of writing, and the place deictic expression down here refers to Kizzuwatna. Needless to say, the referents of the same deictic expressions would be different in a letter written and sent under different communication circumstances.[4]

It should be noted that sometimes the same linguistic material can have both deictic and non-deictic uses. For example, the adjective right is used non-deictically in the example Look at your rightand deictically in the example Look to the right.In the first example there is no implicit or explicit reference to any aspect of the communication situation, and the location of the speaker at the time of the utterance is not important; the addressee’s right side is always his right side. In the second example the situation is presented from the point of view of a speaker who hopes to change the perspective of the addressee. The expression to the right is thus used deictically, and can be more accurately described as a place deictic expression.

We saw that in this example, the situation is described from the speaker’s point of view. The speaker is the reference point or deictic center in relation to which a deictic expression is to be interpreted.[5] Typically, the deictic center is the present time, place, participant role, etc. of the speaker. But the deictic center may also change. Ordinarily one would say “I am here and people come to me. You are there and people go to you”, but the poles can also be reversed: “You are here, people come to you. I am over there, people go to me”.[6]

According to Levinson (2006: 119), “social deixis involves the marking of social relationships in linguistic expressions, with direct or oblique reference to the social status or role of participants in the speech event.” In line with this definition, social deictic expressions encode the absolute social status (such as king, scribe, priest), and, more frequently, the relative social status (superordinate, subordinate) of the communication participants or referents of the communication.[7] But the notion social deixis can also be understood more broadly, and can include the coding of identity (such as gender, nationality, level of education), social roles (such as friend, mother, teacher) or the nature of the social context (a private conversation as opposed to a legal proceeding).[8] According to Fillmore (1997: 110f.), social deixis “is the study of that aspect of sentences which reflect or establish or are determined by certain realities of the speech situation in which the speech act occurs.”[9]

The use of social deictic expressions is thus affected by relations of social power between interactants (that is, by their relative positions in the social hierarchy, their ages, their gender, and so forth) and by the degree of social distance or solidarity (that is by the degree of intimacy, shared experiences and opportunities, similar amounts of capital, etc.). Norms of politeness, respect, the formality of the discourse in question, the purpose of the interaction, the attitude of the speaker and various other factors can also play a part.[10]

Across typologically different languages, various means can be used to encode social deictic information: pronouns (tu : vous), verb forms (siehst du : sehen Sie), expressions of modality (must : should), speech act formulas (Send me a stylus :Could you send me a stylus), different types of address (Ramzes : Herr der Kronen), phrases (your servant : your son), lexical variations (try : attempt), etc. Non-verbal signals, that is, gift exchange, prostration and hand gestures, can also be used with this meaning.[11]

The use of the linguistic expressions listed above can be affected by various communication circumstances and/or strategies, and consequently the same expression can be observed from different angles. The sentence He will sit in front of me on the right provides an example of the non-deictic (from the perspective of place deixis) use of the adjective right. But in Hittite thought, the right side was understood as the favorable and good side;[12] the speaker was therefore displaying affection for the man to whom he promised a place on his right, or attributing to him a certain (relatively high) social status. Right in this example can therefore also be understood as a social deictic expression. The same can be said of the sentences You are here, people come to you. I am over there, people go to me. These too can be studied from the perspective of person(al), place and social deixis: A depiction of an event, situation or set of spatial relations from the point of view of the addressee can also be a feature of respectful or polite language, which can be used in symmetric or roughly equal relations or, as is more frequently the case, in asymmetric relations where one of the interactants is socially more powerful.[13] It follows that the terms here and there can also be understood as social deictic expressions.

The expression and creation of social relations through the use of language thus appears to be a complex phenomenon that can be studied from a number of perspectives: the meaning of individual words (lexical semantics), the use of different grammatical constructions to achieve the same result (speech act theory), social variables that determine different kinds of linguistic expressions (sociolinguistics), preservation or dismantling of the positive self-image of the addressee (politeness theory), the influence of context on the meaning of a linguistic expression (pragmatics), etc.

2 Hittite Texts as a Source for the Study of Social Deixis

The Hittite texts reveal a precisely regulated state apparatus and provide evidence of hierarchic organization within the state. The state gods function as the highest authority; the king (appointed by the gods) appears as a high priest, the supreme judge, a chief military commander and a shepherd of the people. Beneath the king are the vassals, who have sworn an oath and are bound by treaties, as well as functionaries in the palace and temples, officers at the state borders, and others. A similarly strict hierarchy appears in the framework of individual social classes (free, non-free and semi-free, the latter consisting of captives), occupational groups (the army, priests, scribes) and social groups. Within the so-called great family (šalli ḫaššātar), relations between king’s women (that is, between the queen and other free and even non-free women) and consequently between the king’s children were also hierarchically defined, the status of children being determined by that of the mother. Because the same person could perform multiple functions within the Hittite state, because the tasks of different functionaries or officials could overlap, and because higher social status was determined both politically as well as in relation or connection to the king,[14] Hittite society can be described as a multi-level society where one’s momentary, relative status was for the most part more important than one’s absolute social status. In other words, it was a society where the same person was a master at one moment and, in different communication circumstances, a subordinate.[15]

It should be noted that all the Hittite texts that we possess were preserved in the context of state administration and were written by official scribes or officials with some scribal knowledge. These persons belonged to the dominant and upper classes of Hittite society and (presumably) were a minority within the Hittite population;[16] it is therefore only possible to study their social and linguistic norms. The Hittite corpus has a further limitation: Because texts of a purely private nature are not known, and the only preserved private correspondence outside of the royal family is found in postscripts of official letters,[17] the research is limited to a (relatively) formal discourse. Proof that the study of social deixis in Hittite is merited despite these limitations can however be found in the Hittites’ profound awareness of the way language is used to construct social relations. A letter from a Hittite king to King Adad-nērārī I of Assyria (1) reveals this awareness rather clearly:

(1) CTH 171, KUB 23.102 4′−19′, ed. Hoffner (2009: 323f.)

nu=za lugal galkištat šeš-utta=ma ù šaḫur.sagAmmana uwauwar kuit namma memeškešikuit=at šeš-utta n=at kuit=mašaḫur.sagAmmana uwauwaršeš-tar=ta kuedani memini ḫatrāmišeš-tar kuiš kuedani ḫatreškezzinu=kanul āššiyanteš kuiēš nu 1-aš 1-edani šeš-tar ḫatreškezzi[t]uk=mašeš-tar kuwatta šer [ḫa]trāmi zik=za=kan amukk=a 1-edani ama-ni ḫaššanteš[ab]i aba abi=ya=ya gim-an ana lugal kur uruAššur [šeš-tar]ul ḫatrešker zikk=a=mu [uwauwar] lē ḫatreškeši [ul=mu] zi-anza ‘So you’ve become a “Great King”, have you? But why do you still continue to speak about “brotherhood” and about coming to Mt. Ammana? What is it, (this) “brotherhood”? And what is it, (this) “coming to Mt. Ammana”? For what reason should I write to you about brotherhood? Who writes whom (about) brotherhood?Do people who are not on familiar terms with each other write to each other about brotherhood?Why should I write you (about) brotherhood? Were you and I born of the same mother? As my grandfather and my father did not call the King of Assyria “brother”, you should not keep writing to me (about) “coming” and “Great Kingship”. It displeases me.’

Why is the term brotherhood so important here? It is well known that like other Ancient Near East civilizations, the Hittites used kinship terms to express relative rank. Adad-nērārī is thus claiming peer/equal status with Muršili. Hoffner (2009: 323) offers an interpretation of this “misunderstanding”: “By conquering the last remaining king of what used to be the great kingdom of Mitanni, the Assyrian king could rightfully style himself a "Great King", the technical term for a ruler who controlled a network of smaller vassal states. But in Muršili III’s eyes this still did not entitle him to a position of equivalence with the Great King of Ḫatti. In this draft he brusquely rejects the Assyrian’s overtures and claim to be a true peer.” If Hoffner is correct, the use of the term brotherhood did not bother the Hittite king because the two kings did not in fact share a close familial bond; he was actually upset because he was not prepared to accept a status equivalent to that of the addressee. This letter therefore reveals negotiations on the relative social status of the communication participants and the use of language as a means for manipulating and constructing or reconstructing social relations. It also proves that although the notion of social deixis is an invention of modern sociology and linguistics, the socially proper language use was already deeply ingrained in the mindset of the Hittites.

The corpus of the research was crafted according to the following criteria:[18] 1. the participants of the communication are known, 2. their absolute social status or relative social status is known, 3. the time and broader historical context of the text is roughly known, 4. the texts fall under different types of discourse, 5. the texts are relatively well preserved.

Everyday-economic discourse is represented by a selection of letters. The corpus included 56 letters, 21 of which were sent by superiors, and 16 by subordinates; in 19 letters, the social relation between the communication participants was roughly one of equality.

Juridical discourse is represented by seven treaties. Nearly all of the treaties in the Hittite language are non-parity treaties, and the Hittite king functions as the superior and socially more powerful communication participant. The treaty between Tudḫaliya IV and Kurunta of Tarḫuntašša is an exception, as it displays a certain degree of reciprocity. In it, the Hittite king allows the addressee to choose his own successor, utters a curse upon any of his successors who would threaten Kurunta’s rule, mentions past reciprocal oaths between the author and the addressee, etc.[19] Some scholars even think that “Kurunta was considered an equal by the Hittite ruler.”[20]

Religious discourse is represented in the corpus by ten prayers from the Hittite king, queen or royal couple to different deities. In these texts, the speaker is always the socially weaker and subordinate communication participant. He honors the god in the hymns that often accompany the prayers, and in the body of the text he admits or denies guilt for past transgressions against the gods and asks for the gods’ aid and blessings.[21]

Most of the findings presented below are based on the research corpus; in some of the examples, information collected outside the main corpus will also be referenced.

3 The Concepts of Social Power and Socially Powerful

The Hittites did not have an expression for society,[22] but we do know of expressions for individual social classes, groups and statuses. The social structure of the Hittite state has to date been researched primarily in the framework of the various provisions of the Hittite law code,[23] and definitions of individual social statuses and the rights, obligations and social relations they entailed are scattered throughout the whole of hittitological literature. The question of how (relative) social status and social relations were expressed in the Hittite language or created by the Hittites through the use of language has also yet to receive a systematic treatment outside of discussions of address terms in Hittite letters.[24]

Those Hittite expressions which in modern languages translate to power (nakki-, gešpu, tarḫuilatar) mostly signify physical force, and their use is characteristic of descriptions of military or manly actions.[25] The Hittites used metonymy to express the idea of social power. The hand (Hitt. keššar, Sum. šu, Akk. qātu), as one of the most active parts of the human body, is that which rules, which fights, which protects and which leads.[26] The hand represents the more powerful or important individual in an interaction; it is the center of his power and the point of contact between a superior and a subordinate (see Table 1).

Table 1:

Hand as metonymy for social power.[27]

hand-metonymyliteral meaningfigurative meaning
kuedanikki keššari eš-‘to be in someone’s hand’‘to be in power/sphere of influence/under the jurisdiction/in the care of someone’
anašukuēlka miḫuntaḫḫ-‘to grow old in the hand of someone’‘to grow old under the protection of someone’
āššu lūluana qāt kuēlka auš-‘to see well-being and blessing in the hand of someone’‘to be well and blessed under the power/protection of someone’
kišri kuedanikki dai-‘to put in someone’s hand’‘to put under someone’s power/protection’
tamain šu-anilaliya-‘to wish another hand’‘to wish the power/rule of someone else’

Metonymy of this kind is mostly used to describe the power of the Hittite king or the gods (2), (3), but in some examples it only serves to describe the concern of communication participants regardless of power relations, as an excerpt from the letter of Taki-šarruma to the Hittite king shows (4).

(2) CTH 106.B, KBo 4.10 rev. 11, ed. van den Hout (1995: 44), transl. Beckman (1999: 112)

nu=kan anašudutu-ši aššuli meḫuntaḫḫut‘And you shall live to a good old agein the hand of My Majesty.’

(3) CTH 68, KBo 4.3 i 45−47

anda=ya=za=kan idalaui lē kuedanikki [kišta]ti tamain=ma=za šu-an lē kuinki ilaliyaši[zilati]ya dutu-ši aššum belutim paḫši‘Further, you shall not become implicated in any evil, you should not wish any other hand (over you), but in future protect, My Majesty as overlord.’

(4) CTH 205, KUB 57.123 10−11, ed., transl. Hoffner (2009: 346)

[x k]āš=a uttar šu-za dib-mi nu=kan udd[ār... gam?-a]n? ūḫḫi‘I will take the matter in hand, ... and will look the matters over.’

The hand-metonymy reveals the Hittites’ basic conceptions of powerful individuals, social relations and those “duties” of the superior which both legitimate and create his dominance. The semantic fields of adjectives meaning powerful show that the Hittites also attributed honorary tasks and physical power to important individuals with high social status, as the overview of the adjectives nakki-, šarku-, daššu-/daššaw-, daššuwant- in the Table 2 shows. These adjectives also had socially related meanings ‘important’, ‘high-ranking’, ‘honored’ and ‘strong’.

Table 2:

Adjectives with the meaning powerful and their socially related meanings.[28]

(socially) powerfulother meanings
daššu-/daššaw-, daššuwant-xx

The image of an ideal, honest, merciful and caring lord can be shown using an excerpt from Muršili’s plague prayer (5) and an excerpt from fragments mentioning Pimpira (6):[29]

(5) CTH 378, KUB 14.8 rev. ii 22′−28′, ed. García Trabazo (2002: 324), transl. Singer (2002: 60)

našma mān ana arad-ti kuedanikki kuitki nakkiyaḫḫan [ ?] nu=za ana en=šu arkuwar iyazzi n=an en=šu ištamašzi nu=šši g[enzu dāi(?)] kuit nakkiyaḫḫan n=at=šisig5-aḫzi našma mān ana arad-ti kuedanikki waštul waštul=ma=zza=kan ana pāni en=šu tarnāi n=anen=šu kuit apiya iyezzi n=an iēzzi waštul=ma=za=k[an an]a pāni en=šu kuit tarnāi nu ana en=šu zi-anza waršiyazz[i nuen=]šu apūn arad-di egir-pa ul kappūizzi‘Or if something bothers some servant and he makes a plea to his lord, his lord listens to him, [has pity] on him, and he sets right what was bothering him. Or if some servant has committed a sin, but he confesses the sin before his lord, his lord may do with him whatever he wishes; but since he has confessed his sin before his lord, his lord’s soul is appeased, and the lord will not call that servant to account.’

(6)CTH 24, KBo 3.23 i 5−8, iv 7f., ed. Cammarosano (2006: 20), transl. Goetze (1964: 25)

gig-an au nu=šši ninda!-an wātar pāi mān[=an] ḫandaiš walaḫzi zig=an ekunimi dāi [ ] takku=wa=an ekunimaš walaḫzi n=an ḫandaš[i] ... nu kišduwanti ninda-an pai [ ] ì-an pai nekumanti=ma túg-a[n pai]‘Look after the sick one and provide him with bread (and) water! When warmth bothers him, place him in a cool (spot)! When cold bothers him, place him in a warm (spot)!’ .... ‘To the hungry one give bread! To the one who lacks ointment give oil! To the naked one give clothes!’

4 Terms Describing Relative Social Status

According to the commonly held view of linguists, philosophers and psychologists, human anatomy and physiology, as well as man’s interaction with his environment, inherently influence human perception, cognition and – at least by proxy – language use. The interaction between the human body and its physical environment is reflected in the conceptualization and presentation of abstract concepts in terms of concrete spatial or physical reality. Social structures and relations can also be described this way. From the standpoint of spatial organization, the up-down and front-back axes are particularly important for describing social statuses and relations, while the lateral or left-right axis has a lesser role.[30] From the standpoint of the physical characteristics of an entity, in descriptions of social statuses and relations qualifications of the type strong : weak, big : small are primarily used; oppositions like heavy : light, dark : light are rare. In metaphorical uses, the dimension up, front and qualifications such as high, big, first therefore mark high social status and positive concepts within a society, while their opposites mark low social status and negative concepts.[31] Metaphoric uses of this kind are also used to describe social relations in Hittite, as Table 3 shows.

Table 3:

Terms describing relative social status.[32]

relative social statusliteral meaning
position in the social hierarchy peda-place
of high(er) rankḫantezzi(ya)-[33]first
daššu-/daššaw-, daššuwant-heavy
of equal rankannauli-/annawalli-from the same mother
colleague, peerlú/munusara-one that conforms, is appropriate
of low(er) rankappezzi(ya)-[34]last

Expressions for low or lower social status are attested much less frequently than expressions for high or higher social status. Additional proof of the relatively limited social deictic dimension or use of the former can be seen in the fact that the meaning ‘insignificant’ for the adjective mališku- has not been established beyond doubt.[36] I have also not been able to pinpoint the term for a subordinate. The meaning ‘subordinate’ for ammiyant- is presupposed on the basis of KBo 3.34 ii 27–28, which speaks of chariot-drivers who are to be trained and who will thus become skilled/experienced;[37] the meaning is presumed for tur on the basis of the comparison gal dub.sar ‘chief scribe’ (literally ‘big scribe’) : dub.sar tur ‘novice/apprentice scribe’ (literally ‘small scribe’).[38] This interpretation is somewhat supported by the observation that the sign translated as ‘small’ (tur) also has the meaning ‘child’ or ‘son’ (dumu). The expression dumu can also be used to address subordinates, but this usage is very rare.[39]

The social deictic use of some of the expressions listed in the Table 3 can be observed in the following examples (7), (8), (9), (10):

(7) CTH 105.A, KUB 23.1 + KUB 23.7 + KUB 31.43 + 670/v + 720/v rev. iii 8−17, ed., transl. Beckman (2011: 58f.)

nu=ta=kkan mān uruḪatt[i kuiški] anda tamekzi naššušeš.lu[gal]našma dumu.lugaln<aš>ma bēlu našma egir-izz[] ḫantezzišun-aš nu=tta=kkan šadutu-ši kuitki :kuggurniyauwar egir-pa anda udainašma=ta=kkan dutu-ši kuitkiḫul!-anni katta maniyaḫzinu=kan inim-ananadutu-šilē ša[nn]atti‘If [some] Hittite attaches himself to you – either a brother of the King, a prince, a nobleman, or a man of the lowest (or) highest rank – and he brings up again some slander concerning My Majesty, or he subjects My Majesty to malice in some way before you, you shall not cover up the matter before My Majesty.’

(8) CTH 106.A, Bo 86/299 ii 79−83, ed. Otten (1988: 18), transl. Beckman (1999: 118)

ana giššú.a=ma=šši rabutti ša lugal kur uruKargamiš išḫiūl ēšduana lugal kur urudu-tašša=kan 1-aš tūḫukantiš šalliš ēšdu namma=ma=šši=kan lē kuiški šalliš ša lugal=ya šaklaiš kuiš ana lugal kur uruKargamiš āra ana lugal kur urudu-tašša=ya apāš āra ēšdu‘Concerning the Great Throne (of Ḫatti), his protocol shall be the same as that of the king of the land of Carchemiš. Only the crown prince shall be greater than the king of the land of Tarḫuntašša; no one else shall be greater than he. Whatever royal ceremonial is allowed to the king of the land of Carchemiš shall also be allowed to the king of the land of Tarḫuntašša.’

(9) CTH 181, KUB 14.3 ii 13−15, ed., transl. Beckman (2011: 106f.)

ki!nuna=wa=mu šeš=ya lugal.galannaulišišpurnu=wa amme[l annauliyaš] memian ul ištamašmi ‘But now, my brother, a Great King, (my) peer, has written to me – should I not listen to the word of (my) [peer]?’

(10) CTH 383, KUB 21.19 + KBo 52.17 rev. iii 28′−30′, ed. Sürenhagen (1981: 94), transl. Singer (2002: 100)

ammell=a=mu=kan lú.mešarušlú.meštappi=ya[=ya] šarešker anauruNerik=wa=kan [šer] anda ḫarakti‘My friends and associates kept intimidating me saying: “For Nerik will you perish.”’

5 Gestures Indicating Social Relations

Metaphoric uses enabled the Hittites to present social statuses and relations in a rather picturesque and concrete manner. This is most evident in descriptions of the different processions and gestures that act out these relations. The use of the lateral axis (left-right) can be seen in the use of hand as a metonymy for social power. The hand-metonymy is also characteristic of gestures used by superiors to symbolize leadership, protection or mercy. The same can be said, for the most part, of gestures that signal symmetric social relations. The Hittites could display equality of social statuses, friendship or a truce by shaking or holding hands. In the opinion of de Martino (1988), we may assume that the Hittites also marked equal rank with greetings consisting of a kiss on the lips and on the right hand. In expressing lower social status and the gestures characteristic of it, vertical orientation or the up-down axis once again plays an important part. In pleading and subordination gestures, the weaker party raises his hand in the direction of the superior or the sky or demonstrates his lower status by bowing, getting on his knees, or falling to the feet of the superior; he may also cling to, embrace or kiss the addressee’s knees. An overview of these gestures is shown in Table 4, and examples are given for some of the social deictic uses noted in the research corpus (11), (12), (13).

Table 4:

Gestures indicating social relations.[40]

higher status – leadership, protection, mercy
šu.ḫi.a-ušaraḫzanda ḫar(k)-‘to put hands around’
šu-az ēp(p)-, šu.mešēp(p)-, dā-‘to take by the hand’, ‘to take hands’
šu-an ḫar(k)-, ēp(p)-‘to hold a hand’
genzu ḫar(k)-‘to take (into one’s) lap’
equal status – friendship
keššeran pai-‘to give a hand’
šu-an ḫar(k)-‘to hold a hand’
lower status – pleading, subordination
šu.meššarā ep(p)-‘to raise hands up’
ar(u)wai-, kanen(iya)-‘to bow’
ḫaliya-, ḫaliḫliške/a-, ḫink-‘to kneel down’
genuwaš kattan uwa-‘to come to (one’s) knees’
ana gìr.meš PN maqātu/šukênu‘to fall/to bow at (someone’s) feet’[41]
genu(wa)/genušep(p)-‘to take (someone’s) knees’
genuwa anda ḫulḫuliya-‘to cling to the knees’
genuwa kuwaš(š)- (?)‘to kiss knees’
iškiš lagan ḫar(k)-‘to bend one’s back’

(11) CTH 190, HKM 81, 4−8, ed., transl. Hoffner (2009: 241f.)

maḫar bēli ḫūman si[g5]-in ēšdu nu=šmaš līm dingir.meš ti-an ḫa[rka]ndu nu=tta šu.ḫi.a-uš araḫzan[d]a aššuli ḫarkandu nu=tt[a] paḫ[š]andaru‘May everything be well with (my) lord. May the Thousand Gods (the entire pantheon) keep both of you alive. May theyhold their hands lovingly around you (sg.) and protect you (sg.).’

(12) CTH 181, KUB 14.3 ii 28−30, ed., transl. Beckman (2011: 107f.)

nūwa=pat mem[iškit w]aḫḫeškimi=wa nu=mu mAtpā[š kišša]n i[qbi d]utu-ši=wa šu-anana ibilapāi‘But he still kept saying: “I continue to be afraid.” Then Atpa said to me: “O, Your Majesty, give a hand to the heir!”’

(13) CTH 374, KUB 36.75+ obv. i 9′−14′, ed., transl. Schwemer (in: Jaques 2015: 364, 370–371)

[ne]pišaš taknāšš=a dingir.meš-eš tuk=[pat du]tu-i kattan kanenanteš[kui]tta dutu-uš memiškešidingir.meš-š=a āppa tuk dutu-i arūiškanzidutu-uš kuri[mmaš w]anumiašš=a attaš annaš zik ‘The gods of [he]aven and earth are bowed down before you alone, o Sun-god! [What]ever you, o Sun-god, are saying, the gods keep prostrating themselves to you, o Sun-god, again. O Sun-god, you are father (and) mother of the orphan and of the bereaved.’

6 The Up-down Orientation Axis and Analytic Case Markers[42]

The social deictic use of the up-down orientation axis is also revealed by the metaphoric meanings of analytic case markers in Hittite. One of the semantic connotations of the concept up (Hitt. šer, šarā, Sum. ugu)is control and supervision, as the phrases šer eš- ‘to be above’, šer ar- ‘to stand above’, šer tittanu- ‘to set up’, ‘to install’, and šer ḫar(k)- ‘to hold up, keep up, support’ show (14). The concept may also indicate rebellion or an upward change of social status as the phrases gú ugu ep(p)-/ṣabātu ‘hold the neck up’ (15) and šarāda- ‘to take up’, ‘to take control over’, ‘to elevate (politically)’ indicate (16).[43]

(14) CTH 295, KBo 16.63 11

mTapanunaš=kan kuwapi kunati nu=za ūlšēr ēšun‘When Tapanuna was killed, I was not above (I had no control)’[44]

(15) CTH 123, KBo 4.14 iii 39f., ed. Stefanini (1969: 46), transl. CHD Š.2 (2005: 212)

gú uguēpti karū kuwapi mpu.lugal-aš ba.úšzik=ma gú ugu iṣbat ‘Do not hold up your neck (i.e., be wilfull)! Formely, when pu.lugal died, you held up your neck.’

(16) CTH 42, KBo 5.3 i 2f., ed. Wilhelm (, 2013–02–24)

kāša tuk mḪuqqanān appezzin ur.ge7-an šarā dāḫḫun nu=tta sig5iyanunI took you up, Ḫukkana, the lowly dog, and have treated you well.’

Some social deictic uses of the concept down (Hitt. katta, kattan, Akk. šapal, Sum. gam) are also attested and indicate a subordinate social position, subordination and subjugation, as the phrases katta ḫar(k)-‘keep down’ (16) and (ana) šapal gìrkuēlka dai-/tiya- ‘to put under (someone’s) feet’ (17) show.[45]

(17) CTH 127, Bo 2810 ii 4−6, ed. Klengel (1974: 172)

dumu=ya ape kur.kur.meškatta ḫarak nu=kan le kuitki neyari‘My son, keep those lands subjugated (lit. ‘down’) and none shall turn (away).’

(18) CTH 377, KUB 24.1 obv. iii 13′–15′, ed., transl. Kassian / Yakubovich (2007: 431, 434).

nu=šmaš -aš tarḫūilin parā neya[nt]a[n]d.gištukul-in peški nu=šmaš kur.kurkúršapal(rasure)gìr.meš=šunuzikki n=at in[nara ḫarganu?]‘Give them a man’s (?) valiant, battle-ready, divine (?) weapon! Putbeneath their feet the enemy lands and [destroy (?)] them ri[ght away]!’

7 The Front-back Orientation Axis and Analytic Case Markers

The social deictic use of the Hittite local adverb peran and the Akkadian preposition pāni with the basic meanings ‘before’, ‘in front of’ to express goal and location was already described by Hoffner (2002: 165). Among the Hittites, subordinates would step, sit or swear an oath before the gods or the king, and the same is true of the hierarchical structure of individual social groups within the Hittite state: pupils or scribes of a lower status would write before a superior, that is, under his supervision (19), (20).[46] In these examples the subordinate is peran/pāni, but in other cases it is the person with the higher rank who is before. Namely, the notion before could also be used in the terms for ‘leader’ (peran ḫuyatalla-) or ‘champion/the outstanding one’ (peran tiyant-) and ‘to lead’ (peran ḫuwai-),[47] ‘promote’ or ‘to be promoted (to a higher rank)’ (peran tiya-), ‘get preeminence’ (peran waḫnu-), ‘to be responsible for’ (peran eš-) (21), (22).[48]

(19) CTH 264, KUB 13.4 obv. i 22, ed., transl. Miller (2013: 244f.)

ìr=šu kuwapi ana en=šu peran šarā artari ‘When a servant stands up in front of his master.’

(20) CTH 481, KUB 29.4 rev. iv 45f., ed., transl. Miller (2004: 297)

šumlú dumumnu.giškiri6pānimAnuwanzasagišṭur‘The hand of Ziti, son of nu.giškiri6, wrote (this tablet) before Anuwanzathe Eunuch.’

(21) CTH 264, KUB 13.4 iii 12–13, cited from CHD P 1997: 300

ge6-ti ge6-ti=ma 1 sanga gal lú.mešweḫešgattallaš peran ḫuyanza ešdu‘Night by night let one high-ranking priest take charge of the patrolmen’

(22) CTH 381, KUB 6.45 obv. i 33, ed., transl. Singer (1996: 9, 32)

dŠeriš=ma en=ya gu4ša du ša kur urukù.babbar-ti peran tianza‘Šeri, my lord, bull of the Storm-god, champion of Ḫatti.’

The meaning ‘before’, ‘in front of’ to express goal and location could also be encoded by the Akkadian preposition maḫar.[49] The lexical catalogue in Mainz contains 51 examples of this preposition in a non-fragmentary context. In almost 78 %, or 40 examples, this preposition is used by the Hittite king in reference to himself or his father or by subordinates who address the king or refer to him (23); even the queen addresses the king this way (24). In 5 examples the Hittite gods and royal family are marked this way (25) and in an additional 6 examples the exact social relations between participants are unclear (26). In some of these examples maḫaris perhaps better understood as a politeness marker (27), but this observation would require further research.maḫaris mostly used in letters and in legal and historiographic propagandistic texts. Its use is therefore characteristic of texts that stress the absolute social status of the king and in texts with participants of unequal social status. It can be said to emphasize social distance between communication participants, the highest social status in the Hittite state and the social power of the king and the royal family.[50]

(23) CTH 63, KBo 3.3 + KUB 23.126 + KUB 31.36 rev. iii 53′−59′, ed., transl. Miller (2007: 128, 130)

mān dīnu=ma kuitki šallešzi n=at arḫa ēppuwanzi ul taraḫteni n=at=kan duwan maḫardutu-šiparā naišten n=atdutu-ši arḫa ēpzi‘But if some judicial matter becomes (too) grave, and you are not able to handle it, than you shall refer it here to My Majesty (or ‘bring it in the presence of My Majesty’, author’s note) and My Majesty will handle it.’

(24)CTH 188, Or. 90/800: 1−5, ed., transl. Hoffner (2009: 257f.)

ana dutu-ši bēli=ya qibi=ma umma munus.lugal géme=[ka] maḫardutu-šibēli=yaḫūman sig5-in ēštu ‘Say to His Majesty, my lord: Thus the Queen, your maidservant: “May all be well in the presence of Your Majesty, my lord.”’

(25) CTH 190, KuT 50 obv. 1–4, ed., transl. Hoffner (2009: 263)

ana bēli bēli=ya qibi=ma ummamḪalpa-lú arad=ka=ma maḫardumu.munus.meš (Rasur) sig5-in ùana maḫar bēlī=y[a]sig5-in ēštu anzašš=a katta ḫūman s[ig5-i]n‘Say to the lord, my lord: Thus speaks Ḫalpa-ziti, your servant: “May it be well with the daughters (princesses?) and with my lord. All is well with us too.”’

This excerpt is taken from Ḫalpaziti’s letter to the Hittite king. Here the Sumerogram dumu.munus.meš signifies princesses, or at least girls with a high status at the court. This is made evident by the fact that it is the queen who is demanding an oracular inquiry because of portentous dreams in which these dumu.munus.meš appeared; bēluis the Hittite king.

(26) CTH 292, KBo 6.26 rev. iii 49–50, ed., transl. Hoffner (1997: 154)

takku -ašmaḫardam šeš=šu šeškezzi šeš=šu=ma ḫūišwanza ḫūrkil‘If a man sleeps with his brother’s wife, while his brother is alive, it is an unpermitted sexual pairing.’

(27) CTH 186, HKM 36, left edge 3, ed., transl. Hoffner (2009: 152)

kāša=za uruḪattuši maḫarlú.meštappi=ni‘I am presently in Ḫattuša in the presence of our colleagues.’

The social deictic use of the concept behind (Hitt. appa(n), Sum.egir(-an)) is attested much less frequently. When it is used in this sense, it bears a semantic connotation of help, support or protection regardless of power relations. This meaning is shown in the phrases egir-ankuedanikki ar- ‘to stand behind someone’, egir-an kuinki tiya- ‘to step behind someone’, egir-an kuedanikki pai- ‘to go behind someone’, egir-an kuedanikki ḫuwai- ‘to run behind someone’ (28).[51] We can also observe that the meaning of these phrases differs between individual text types. Hagenbuchner (1989: 102f., 1993: 111−118) has found that when used in letters, egir-an tiya- usually means ‘to care for/tend to something’ (29), while in treaties the choice of different lexical items (the verbs ar- or tiya-) is conditioned by the referent. When the phrasesištu ša egir-anar- (30) and egir-an tiya- appear in the same text, the former is used only to express support for the Hittite king, while the latter is used for support for a vassal or some other person.

(28) CTH 68, KUB 6.44 11−13

maḫḫan=ma=za abu=ya dingir-lim-iš kišat dutu-ši=ma=za=kan [a]na giš abi=ya ēšḫat nu=šši egir-an tiyanu[nn]u=šši egir-an pāun‘But when my father became god, I, My Majesty sat upon my father’s throne, and I supported him and I followed (lit. ‘went behind’) him.’

(29) CTH 186, HKM 31, 25−29, ed., transl. Hoffner (2009: 158)

mḪimmu-dingir-lim-iš=mu 1 gu4tet nu=ššišeš.dù egir-an tiya n=an=kan parā arnut n=an mu uppi‘Ḫimmuili promised me an ox. See to it, my brother. Expedite it and send it to me.’

(30) CTH 68, KBo 5.13 8–9, ed., transl. Kitchen / Lawrence 2012: 512f.

nu ištu šadutu-ši=pat egir-an ārḫut nu=za anadutu-ši warriš šu.bulug-ašš=a šardiyaš ēšʽSo stand hereafter equally by the side of the Sun-king, and (thus) be helpful and supportive to the Sun-king.ʼ

8 Conclusion

As noted above, the expression and creation of social relations through the use of language is a complex and very broad phenomenon that, as such, demands study and the use of an exhaustive, diverse theoretical apparatus. This problem has yet to be systematically addressed within the framework of the study of the Hittite language, and the analysis presented here is meant to serve only as an introduction to the study of social deixis in Hittite. At the same time, it presents arguments for the further study of, and, by addressing some of the most basic questions, offers possibilities for further approaches to the subject matter. Some of these questions include: Which expressions did the Hittites use to express social relations? How were these relations reflected in the language? And how did language serve as a means for creating social relations?

My research focused specifically on the identification of lexical means used to express the notions (social) power and (socially) powerful, descriptions of social relations and relative social status (for example high/low social status) and gestures which act out these relations. The findings showed that the Hittites used metonymy and metaphors to present social statuses and relations in a rather picturesque and concrete manner.

Because these findings accord with the claim of cognitive linguistics that social statuses and relations can be shown using concrete spatial relations in the human environment, wherein the up-down and front-back orientation axes have an important role, the research proceeded to deal with the analytic case markers of Hittite, Akkadian and Sumerian origin used to encode these terms. Some social deictic uses of these elements had already been noted by other authors (šer, šarā, peran, egir-an, pāni, ittiand qadu), but the research also pointed out the social deictic uses of the analytic case markers katta, kattan,šapal and maḫar. Of course, most of these elements also have concrete meanings and were most frequently used in their non-social deictic sense; maḫar, however, is an exception. maḫar should probably be understood as an exclusively social deictic marker used to signal absolute and exceptionally high social status within the state, great social power (it is usually used in reference to the Hittite king, the royal family or the Hittite gods) and distance between communication participants.

Although the research did not deal with strategies for creating and altering social relations, it is perhaps necessary, for the sake of future research, to call attention to one more general feature of social deictic expressions. When a desirable social relation needs to be established or the social distance between communication participants needs to be stressed, these expressions serve as a mechanism for manipulation; if an adequate relation is already established, they express the subordinate's acceptance of the social reality. The excerpt from a letter from a Hittite king to King Adad-nērārī I of Assyria shows that the Hittites were well aware of socially proper language use. Namely, the Hittite king rebuked the Assyrian king for his improper use of the term brotherhood and thus rejected an undesirable social relation.

9 Appendix – the Corpus of the Research[52]

127Bo 2810NS?Hittite kingHittite prince[54]Sup
151VBoT 1MS[55]Arnuwanda I/

Šuppiluliuma I[56]
Pharaoh Amunḥotep Tarḫunta-radu, King of ArzawaE
152VBoT 2 MSArnuwanda I/

Šuppiluliuma I
Tarḫunta-radu, King of ArzawaPharaoh Amunḥotep III E
Arzawan scribeEgyptian scribeE
171KUB 23.102NSMuwatalli II/Muršili III?[57]Muwatalli II/Muršili III?Adad-nērārī I, King of Assyria?Sup
176KUB 21.38NSḪattušili III[58]PuduḫepaRamses II E
180KUB 23.85NSḪattušili III[59]PuduḫepaTattamaruSup
181KUB 14.3 NSHattušili III[60]Hattušili III?King of AhhiyawaE
184AT 125NS?King (probably of Carchemish)Pirwannu[61]Sup
186HKM 6MSHittite kingKaššūSup
HKM 10MSHittite kingKaššūSup
HKM 13 MSHittite kingKaššūSup
HKM 14MSTudḫaliya III?[62]Hittite kingKaššūSup
HKM 16MSHittite kingKaššū, ZilapiyaSup
HKM 22 MSHittite king PulliSup
HKM 27MSHittite king ḪimmuiliSup
HKM 31MSHittite king ḪimmuiliSup
187KBo 18.2NSHittite king (Tudḫaliya IV?)Hittite queen (Puduḫepa?)[63]Sup
KBo 18.24LNSTudḫaliya IV?[64]Hittite king (Tudḫaliya IV?)Salmanaššar, King of Assyria E
188KBo 18.54MSŠuppiluliuma I[65]Kaššū Hittite kingSub
KBo 18.4 NSḪattušili III/

Tudḫaliya IV?
King of Išuwa (Eḫlišarruma?)Chief of the Chariotreers (Ura-Tarḫunta?)[66]Sup
HKM 46MSAdad-bēlīHittite kingSub
HKM 48 MSMarīya, ḪapiriHittite kingSub
HKM 51MSArnuwanda I?[67]Kašturraḫšeli Hittite kingSub
Or. 90/800MH?Hittite QueenHittite kingSub
ZuwaHittite kingSub
Privat 79MS??Hittite QueenHittite kingSub
190KuT 49 MS?Mayor[68]Chief of the palace attendantsSub
KuT 50MS?Hittite kingḪalpa-ziti Sup
HKM 52MSḪattušiliḪimmuili E
HKM 55MSKaššū Ḫimmuili Sup
HKM 56MSḪimmuili ḪuilliE
HKM 58MSKikaršaTaḫazzili E
HKM 59MSŠarpaProvincial governor, TarḫuniSub
HKM 60MSŠarpaZaldumanni, ḪuilliSup
HKM 63MSPiyama-TarḫuntaḪimmuili E
HKM 65 MSPulliAdad-bēlī Sup
HKM 66MSḪ[ulla][Adad-bēlī]E
HKM 68MSCommander of the Military Heralds (=Kaššū)[69]Pallanna, ZardumanniSup[70]
HKM 74MSThe Priest (Kantuzzili?)[71]KaššūSup
HKM 81MSTarḫunmiya Father? (Pallanna), Mother?[72]Sub
KBo 18.95MS??Chief of the palace servantsChief of the bodyguardSub
197KBo 9.82LNSTudḫaliya IV?[73]Mašamy lord (Hittite king?)[74]Sub
199ABoT 65MS?TarḫuntiššaPallā E
200ABoT 60MSKaššū?[75]Hittite KingSub
42A = KBo 19.43a + KBo 19.43 + KBo 5.3 + KBo 5.12 + KUB 26.38 + KUB 40.35 + Bo 8138Šuppiluliuma I Ḫuqqana of Ḫayaša
62A = KBo 50.28 + KBo 5.9 + KBo 22.39NSMuršili II Duppi-Tešub of Amurru
B = KUB 3.119 (+) KUB 14.5 (+) KUB 19.48 +) KUB 23.6 (+) KBo 22.39NS
C = KUB 21.49 (+) KUB 19.48 (+) KUB 23.6NS
D = KBo 22.39NS
68A = KBo 4.3 + KUB 40.34 (+) KBo 19.62+63+64LNSMuršili II Kupanta-Kurunta from Mira-Kuwaliya
B = KBo 4.7 + KBo 22.38 + KBo 50.42 + KBo 19.65NS
C = KBo 5.13NS
D = KBo 19.69 (+) KBo 19.66 (+) KUB 6.41 + KBo 19.67NS
E = KUB 6.44 + KUB 6.43 + KUB 19.53 + (+) KUB 6.42NS
76A = KBo 19.73a + KBo 50.124 + KBo 19.73 + KBo 50.41 + KBo 50.212 + FHL 57 + KUB 21.1 + KUB 21.1 + Gurney 2NSMuwattalli II Alakšandu of Wiluša
B = KBo 19.74 + KUB 21.5NS
C = KBo 12.36 + KBo 45.272 + KUB 21.4LNS
105A = KUB 23.1 + KUB 23.7 + KUB 31.43 + 670/v + 720/vNSTudḫaliya IV Šauškamuwa of Amurru
B = KUB 8.82 + 1198/u + 1436/u + Bo 69/821LNS
106.ABo 86/299LNS Tudḫaliya IVKurunta of Tarḫuntašša
106.BKBo 4.10 + KBo 50.60 + KUB 40.69NSḪattušili III Ulmi-Tešub of Tarḫuntašša
3742.A = KBo 52.13 + KBo 51.15 + KUB 36.75MS[76]Hittite king Sun-god
3751.A = KUB 17.21MS Arnuwanda I and Ašmunikkal Sun-goddess of Arinna
1.B = KUB 31.124MS
3762.A = KBo 51.18b + KBo 51.18a + KUB 24.3 + KUB 31.144NSMuršili II. Sun-goddess of Arinna
377A = KBo 58.10 (+) KUB 24.1NS Muršili II Telipinu
B = KUB 24.2NS
378.IIA = KUB 14.8NSMuršilli II Storm-god of Ḫatti
B = KUB 14.11 + KBo 55.25LNS
C = KUB 14.10 + ABoT 2.22 + KUB 26.86NS
380A = KBo 4.6NSMuršilli II Lelwani
381A = KUB 6.45 + KUB 30.14 + KBo 57.18NS Muwatalli IIassembly of the gods
B = KUB 6.46NS
C = KUB 12.35NS
382KBo 11.1NSMuwatalli IIStorm-god
383KBo 52.17+ KBo 57.19 + KUB 14.7 + KUB 21.19 + KUB 40.49LNS Ḫattušili III and Puduḫepa Sun-goddess of Arinna
384KBo 51.26 + KUB 21.27NSPuduḫepaSun-goddess of Arinna


I would like to express my gratitude to the Fritz-Thyssen Stiftung for financially supporting this research from March to September 2013 and from May to December 2014. The research was conducted at the Institut für Assyriologie und Hethitologie, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. I would like to thank J. Miller and W. Sallaberger for their help in obtaining financial aid and J. Miller for his willingness to again serve as my Betreuer. Because I had already spent an extended study period at the institute during my doctoral studies, this visit to Munich and to the confines of the exceptionally well-stocked but also warm and welcoming library was actually a “return”. I would therefore like to thank the entire staff of the institute, and my fellow students and visitors, friends and colleagues in Munich for making me feel welcome and for our conversations, both lighthearted and earnest. A portion of this article was already presented in November 2014 at the Kolloquium zum Alten Orient at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München; I would like to thank the organizers for their invitation and the participants for their comments, advice and encouragement. I also thank the anonymous reviewer for very helpful suggestions and commentaries. Because I first encountered the subject discussed here while preparing my dissertation, I would also like to thank my mentor, M. Zorman.


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Published Online: 2016-11-29
Published in Print: 2016-12-1

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