Indo-European Phonological Inventory Database

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Family: Anatolian

Region: Anatolia

Time: 15th - 7th centuries B.C.


Labial Dental-alveolar Palatal Velar Labialized velar
Strong stop p t k
Weak stop b d g
Strong fricative xʷː
Weak fricative s x
Strong affricate ʦ:
Weak affricate ts
Strong nasal
Weak nasal m n
Strong lateral
Weak lateral l
Strong trill
Weak trill r
Approximant w j


Front Central Back
High i iː u uː
Mid ǝ
Low a aː


  1. The proposed phonological interpretation includes only three basic vowels /a/, /i/, and /u/. These vowels are differentiated in both cuneiform and hieroglyphic orthography. Disappearance of the inherited /e/ seems to be typical of the Luwic languages: Hittite /e/ normally corresponds to Luwian /a/.
  2. The variant spellings of vowels may reflect a number of additional phonological contrasts, but there is no unity in their interpretation. Thus the opposition between long and short vowels may have been occasionally represented by the so-called plene spellings in the cuneiform script (an additional sign, e.g. ma-a-aš-ša-ni-iš for /maːssanis/ ‘god’), but unlike the situation in Hittite, this practice is not consistent enough to be conducive to definite conclusions. The plene and super-plene spellings in initial position could indicate a glottal stop (e.g. a-a-aš-ša for /ʔaːssa/ ‘mouth’, for details see Yakubovich 2014, § 1.4.0). The Iron Age hieroglyphic inscriptions show a contrast between <á> and <a> in initial position. According to one proposal, this can be interpreted as a phonological opposition between /a-/ and /ə-/.
  3. The phonological opposition between the Luwian fortis and lenis stops is reasonably consistently rendered in cuneiform transmission. The fortis/lenis opposition is reconstructed for all the consonants except glides but can only be seen in intervocalic position. Word-initially and in clusters this opposition is neutralized, apparently in favour of the fortis variants.


Yakubovich, Ilya, forthcoming. The Luwian language.
И. Якубович. 2013. Лувийский язык, с. 106-130. В кн.: Языки мира: Реликтовые индоевропейские языки Передней и Центральной Азии / РАН. Институт языкознания. Ред. колл.: Ю.Б. Коряков, А.А. Кибрик. ― М.: Academia. — 512 с. ISBN 978-5-87444-370-2 (I. Yakubovich. 2013. Luwian. In: Languages of the World: Relict Indo-European languages of Western and Central Asia. Yuri B. Koryakov and Andrej A. Kibrik (eds.). ― Moscow: Academia.)
Yakubovich, Ilya. 2010. Sociolinguistics of the Luvian language. Brill, Leiden-Boston.
Melchert, H. Craig. 1994. Anatolian Historical Phonology. Amsterdam-Atlanta: Rodopi.
Melchert, H. Craig (ed.). 2003. The Luwians. HdO 1/68. Leiden-Boston: Brill.
Melchert, H. Craig. 2010. “Spelling of Initial /A-/ in Hieroglyphic Luwian”. In Ipamati kistamati pari tumatimis: Luwian and Hittite Studies presented to J. David Hawkins on the occasion of his 70th birthday, edited by I. Singer, pp. 147-58. Tel-Aviv: Institute of Archaeology.
Morpurgo-Davies, Anna. 1982[1983]. “Dentals, Rhotacism and Verbal Endings in the Luwian Languages”. Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung 96: 245-270.
Payne, Annick. 2010. Hieroglyphic Luwian: An Introduction with Original Texts. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.


Maria Molina

Credits: apnetwork