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The Hittite Demonstratives: Studies in Deixis, Topics and Focus.

The Hittite Demonstratives: Studies in Deixis, Topics and Focus. By PETRA GOEDEGEBUURE. Studien zu den Bogazkoy-Texten, vol. 55. Wiesbaden: HARRASSOWITZ VERLAG, 2014. Pp. xxv + 610. [euro]98.

The book under review represents a major step forward in our understanding of Hittite. By including in the interpretation of passages of the Hittite texts selected here to illustrate the many shades of meaning of Hittite demonstratives both the pragmatic functions of those demonstratives and the role they have in structuring discourse, the author brings to light hitherto overlooked elements of implicit information that can be traced regarding specific demonstratives. Her interpretations give attention not only to the position in time and space of an entity mentioned in a text but--equally or even more importantly--also considers what was meant but left unsaid, such as background beliefs, emotional attitudes, and tacit assumptions of the ancient authors. Even when unexpressed overtly, this information is often paramount in attempting to make sense of Hittite texts.

The book is structured into ten chapters: Following the requisite information about the scope of the study and the investigated text corpus (ch. 1), as well as theoretical preliminaries (ch. 2), there is a detailed investigation of the semantic and pragmatic properties of four Hittite demonstratives and some of the adverbial forms belonging to them: asi+ and anna/i- (ch. 3), apa- (apart from the genitive sg. and pi. and the adnominal apa-, ch. 4), and ka- (ch. 5).

This investigation is followed by an even more detailed inquiry into the functional motivation for the use of apa- as an accented third person pronoun. This part of the book starts with a pilot study of the use of this pronoun in the Hittite Laws (ch. 6) and continues with a discussion of its role in information structure, where it can mark contrastive focus (ch. 7), inclusive focus (ch. 8), or contrastive topic (ch. 9). Sections 1.1 and 1.6 of ch. 1 (pp. 1-3 and 32-36) as well as the whole of ch. 10 present the author's observations regarding the use and development of the Hittite demonstratives from Old to Late New Hittite (including the set of all inflectional forms of each demonstrative attested in the corpus from individual periods). The corpus consists of all documents in Old Script and all datable Middle, New, and Late New Hittite compositions, which are conveniently listed in sec. 1.5 (pp. 11-36), while sec. 1.4 (pp. 7-11) brings forth a discussion of text dating criteria. The book concludes with a bibliography and an index of the cited texts.

The results of the author's analyses of attestations of these forms in the corpus shake some long-held convictions about Hittite demonstratives. The author argues that asi+ is not an anaphoric pronoun as previously assumed, but instead is a distal demonstrative; that apa- is not distal, but addressee oriented; and that word order in Hittite is controlled by information structure. Although the evidence for Old Hittite is somewhat scarce, she maintains that for most of its attested history, Hittite had a three-term person-based demonstrative system with asi+ as a third person term referring to entities in the domain (i.e., in the vicinity or the sphere of influence) of a third party, that is, of neither the speaker nor the addressee (Jener-deixis), apa- is a second person term referring to entities in the domain of the addressee (Dudeixis), and ka- is a first person term referring to entities in the domain of the speaker (Ich-deixis).

In Middle Hittite, a fourth term anna/i- (presumably borrowed from Luwian and used to point at remote and perhaps invisible entities) was incorporated into the demonstrative system, which thus became partly person- and partly distance-based. Due to the fact that anna/i- quickly went out of use, the demonstrative system in New Hittite once again became exclusively person-based and included no more than the three terms mentioned above. During the reign of Hattusili III, asi+ began to split into two (or more) paradigms, but no semantic distinctions among the elements of these paradigms could be traced by the author. The demonstrative system of Late New Hittite consisted of two terms, the proximal ka- and the distal asi+, which means that in contrast to the previous periods it was not person- but rather distance-based. In texts from the time of Tuthaliya IV, apa- no longer occurs as a deictic demonstrative indicating the location of a referent, but retains the function of the stressed third person pronoun marking particular kinds of topic or focus in a sentence--in preverbal position, for instance, it marks counter-expectational focus, in initial position and combined with -ya non-contrastive expanding focus, in initial position and combined with a/-ma contrastive (shifted) topic, etc. The author rightly points out that because the correlation between word order and the counter-expectations signalled by it has hitherto escaped notice, "crucial parts of the ancient author's intention were overlooked" (p. 567).

There can be no doubt that the book is "the result of hard work and harder thought," but it is nonetheless not "easy reading"--to paraphrase the words of a nameless book reviewer from the end of the nineteenth-century. The main reason that it is hard to read is terminological inconsistency: Several alternatively used terms can refer to a single concept. For the type of focus discussed in ch. 7, for instance, one can find four different terms: exclusive focus (p. 379), contrastive focus (p. 380), exhaustive(listing) focus (p. 381), and counter-presuppositional focus (p. 59). The same holds true for the focus type discussed in ch. 8: This is termed inclusive focus (p. 433), expanding focus (p. 433), additive focus (p. 440), and non-contrastive focus (p. 566).

On p. 62 we learn that reference to an object in the physical surroundings is called deixis, exophora, situational use, or Zeigfeld in Biihler's terms. Throughout the work, all four expressions alternate, even in the titles of the sections discussing this phenomenon, which read "Deictic use of demonstratives" (2.3.2, p. 63), "The situational or deictic use of asi+" (3.3, p. 121), and "The situational use of apa-" (4.2, p. 235; italics in all three titles added). Instead of the well-established term deictic procedure, which is required to bring something into the center of attention, the author introduces the term shifting procedure (p. 44), but then she does not apply it as one would expect, but instead writes "shifting (or deictic) procedure" (p. 50), "shifting (= deictic) procedure" (p. 62), etc. One sees that the author thinks much of clear and precise terminology, but the outcomes are rather confusing, all the more so because the book contains no subject index to help the reader navigate through this "terminological minefield."

Another issue is the lack of clear definitions when terms first appear (discourse nodes are for instance first mentioned on p. 53, but the term is only described on p. 72), and still another problem is that the title of the book does not prepare the reader to understand why almost one-third of it (chs. 6-9, pp. 337-512) deals with the use of the third person pronoun apa-. Hittite is, of course, one of the languages in which demonstratives are morphologically indistinguishable from accented personal pronouns, but given that the title predicts that the study will deal with the demonstratives used as deictic, topic, and focus expressions, and given that the book is basically divided into two parts, one dealing with demonstratives (chs. 3-5, pp. 99-335) and the other with third person pronouns as mentioned above, the reader wonders why the chapters on the third person pronoun are there, all the more so because the author states that with ch. 5 "the discussion of the demonstratives comes to an end" (p. 6).

The inclusion of the third person pronouns in the investigation would be justifiable, if the author assumes that the demonstratives and the third person pronoun are not distinct lexical categories, but that apa- simply does double work, which is equally possible. That would of course require a change in the title of the book and a far-reaching reassessment of the functions of demonstratives, but the above-mentioned statement and sees. 2.3-2.5 (pp. 62-97) rule out this possibility in any case.

The meaning of individual demonstratives may be amazingly complex. The distal or third person demonstrative asi+ is, for instance, occasionally used as proximal, and the same is true for apa-, which in some examples (pp. 240-41) cannot be a medial or second person demonstrative as correctly stated by the author (p. 241), as well as for ka- (p. 333). The author rightly calls attention to the fact that recent studies have shown that "the actual use of demonstratives is far more subjective," as shown in the book (p. 87), but these studies unfortunately appeared too late for the findings in them to be applied, at least to the original PhD thesis on which the book is based. Future research should consider the possibility that either ka- or asi+ (or both?) could be seen as a neutral term unmarked for distance. Such terms are known from some modern European languages and they are used as neutral in contexts where there is no need to specify distance, although they can specify it when needed (Da Milano 2007: 33-34, and Goedegebuure 2010). The existence of a neutral term, which is characteristically used more frequently than its non-neutral counterparts, could account for the loss of the demonstrative apa-.

Future research should also question the assumption expressed by the author that the addition of a third term (i.e., asi+) to the Hittite demonstrative system "necessarily results in a shift in the deictic value of apa-" (italics added). The relationships among the members of a demonstrative system can in fact be complementary or synonymic. After all, if their etymologies have been correctly identified, both apa- and asi+ are extensions of the same demonstrative stem.

Some minor criticisms can also be made in regard to the compilation of the paradigms, the role of genre, and the presentation of statistics, but on the whole the book proves the author's ability to push our thinking towards new insights. Besides the further semantic sophistication of the minimal demonstrative system discussed in this book, much still remains to be done to apply the author's model of investigation to the description of the maximal Hittite demonstrative system, including all possible candidates and all members of their respective grammaticalization paths.




Da Milano, F. 2007. Demonstratives in the Languages of Europe. In Europe and the Mediterranean as Linguistic Areas, ed. Elisa Roma and P. Ramat. Pp. 25-47. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Co.

Goedegebuure, P. 2010. Deictic-emphatic -i and the Anatolian Demonstratives. In Ex Anatolia Lux: Anatolian and Indo-European Studies in Honor of H. Craig Melchert on the Occasion of His Sixty-fifth Birthday, ed. Ronald Kim et al. Pp 55-67. Ann Arbor: Beech Stave Press.
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Author:Zorman, Marina
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2019
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