Sunday 30 July 2017

Initial R- in Hittite


I had read that Indo-Europeanists knew that Hittites had come to Anatolia from outside. I was unimpressed by this. How could the shape of a language record a past migration?
I was rereading Benjamin Fortson’s masterly short sketch of the Anatolian languages recently and the penny dropped. Indo-European undoubtedly has initial r- and Hittite does not. However, a whole range of early languages of Anatolia are missing initial r-. This is highly compatible with Hittite having arrived from outside with a wave of immigrants who mixed biologically – familiarly, with the locals to give a massively bilingual community which re-normalized the old language with certain features of the local language – such a “negative rule” banning r- in certain positions. Since we know that the language ancestral to Hittite had initial r-, in the REX/RICH word for example, that would make Hittite an immigrant language which had come from outside.
The Net, again, reveals that 3000 tablets were found at the Hittite palace-complex of Sapinuwa (Ortaköy). The dig began in 1990 but apparently only 3 tablets have been published. Something has gone seriously wrong here. The find is quite close to the main tablet archive at Boghazköy and from the same time-span, so we do not have the hope of a variant dialect and information of a new kind. However, the new tablets should complete our information and strengthen the state of several hypotheses. They include bilingual vocabulary lists, surely a treasure.
Anatolia is a big place. However, the range of evidence for languages related to Hittite in the so-named Anatolian group covers a vast area, and it would seem that unlikely that the jump off point for the Hittite language was elsewhere in Anatolia and the journey was from, let’s say, Cilicia to the north-central area around Ankara. We have hieroglyphic Luwian from the Syrian border area (Carchemish) and Lidyan from the Aegean coast. It would appear that this branch of Indo-European immigrated into the region from outside.
Robert Beekes points out that there are only 700 legacy IE words in Hittite. We could hope that wider source material, such as the Sapinuwa archive, would bring a few more. For comparison, Welsh has 800 Latin loan-words dating from the Roman Empire. Anatolian is the first IE family to be recorded (maybe in 1800 BC), but had by then moved farther from the ancestral model than almost any other. We could reconstruct rather little of IE if we only had Hittite and Luwian to work from. This marginal status is hard to combine with a theorised central or source position.
The info on the Net indicates that 600 of the Sapinuwa tablets are in other languages, i.e. non-Hittite. That would include Hurrian, widely used by the Hittite polity in rituals.

As Fortson points out, Greek has no (original) initial r. Rhota only occurs, at the start of words, as aspirated. This goes back to an older s- which was reduced to a breathing. Thus the form rhei “it flows” (as panta rhei) goes back to the sr- root (English stream, Irish sruth). In older Greek there was no initial r-, just sr-. There is a word for darkness, in the Norse Ragnarök, twilight of the gods (ragna “of the gods”, rök “darkness”). This matches Greek Erebos (a dark place), Armenian erek ‘evening’. In each case the older initial r has been covered up by a kind of glide vowel. This is complementary to the Hittite evidence and gives us further knowledge of the geography of this sound-shift. Evidently, Armenian has spent most of its history in the Anatolian area, and it should be Anatolian in areal characteristics. Greek is historically, adjacent to the Anatolian languages. It belongs in the same “south central” square of the Indo-European map. The loss of initial R parallels Hittite/Luwian and would perhaps indicate that the Greeks crossed the Aegean from the east or that the peoples who lived on the Aegean before the Greeks had the same phonology as the people of Anatolia, so the Hurrians, Urartians, and so on. All this has a bearing on a well-known theory whereby IE was found in Anatolia – maybe even the Konya Plain – 7000 years ago and spread through Europe with the first Neolithic farmers, being carried in fact by the same humans, who gradually spread out taking farming skills with them. This does not fit very well with the Anatolian IE languages having come into the region from outside, evidently from the Balkans and probably originally from north of the Black Sea. Nor does it fit with the Anatolian group having the most degraded (! or most evolved/ innovated, works either way) version of the original language – which is preserved so faithfully in Lithuanian and Vedic. The “Neolithic = Indo-European” theory is in deep trouble.
Beekes (again) rejects this theory, pointing out that the slow expansion model would imply a long shared distinctive development of Celtic and Germanic, as adjacent language groups in Western Europe. In fact they have no shared history that we know of. The pattern of the IE families is compatible with a “yeast bubbles in bread” pattern, where pastoral groups spread rapidly and opportunistically through a densely populated peasant landscape, settling mainly where the inhabitants were few or the terrain was very suited to pastoralism. They leapfrogged opposition. So the success of the IE speakers as mobile invaders was also the catastrophe of the IE speech community, which broke up into widely separated enclaves, covering a huge diameter but also parted from each other by the peasant regions which had been bypassed and not swamped.
Renfrew’s theory emphasises slow pace, steadiness, continuity, even tranquillity. This process would have given a dialect continuum within Europe and Anatolia, but since we have gaping gaps between the language families we need rather to explain the discontinuities. India may offer a dialect continuum and may have been Aryanised through a different process. The shatter lines between the “families” may reflect the gaps between the original patches of intrusive steppe pastoralists in the early and mid-3rd millennium BC. Some areas are more suited to herding than others. What we seem to see is the farmer languages disappearing to leave an IE sea. This process is unexplored – those languages disappeared and have no history at all. We know about large “islands” of unrelated speech – Basque, Iberian, Etruscan.
The first written Indo-European language is found where writing already was and so where there was a dense farming population, rich enough to support a state superstructure and a profession of clerks. So it was fore-ordained that the first records of IE would capture a language which had not replaced the local population, numerous and thriving, but been absorbed by them in massive bilingualism, and so damaged. Its original structures had been extensively remodelled, metabolised, broken down. Hittite is a not a good source for the archaic stage of Indo-European. We don’t have a sociology of how Hittite died out, or indeed how Luwian, a related language which seems to have replaced it, died out itself. There was a social dynamic in Anatolia, as in Europe.
I would like to know more details about the fate of the legacy r- words. Did they acquire glide vowels? Were they replaced by local words? Or by near-synonyms? What is the replacement pattern? The scholars were right to say that Hittite came from outside. I just hadn’t known the reasons.

Sunday 16 July 2017

Angel Exhaust legacy issues

Ever worried that you have missed an issue of Angel Exhaust? This is a sheaf of fliers for issues of Angel Exhaust still available for sale.


In issue 23 we run poems by Iain Sinclair, John Hartley Williams, Colin Simms, Kevin Nolan, Anthony Mellors, Ken Fox, AND Luke Roberts.
As the eerie carmine light of burning shopping malls revealed a new subjective landscape, John Hartley Williams was so transfixed by the uprising of 2011 that he translated the Illuminations of Rimbaud in a post-modern and thoroughly convulsive manner, turning the paint splashes into a labyrinthine clarity which we present here in its entirety. We include the whole of Paintsplashes. The poet has said this was a response to the riots and disaffections of summer 2011, which followed the police shooting of a man named Mark Duggan. “In London, where I was at the time, a mob was destroying the quartier a few streets east of where I sat. By chance I had come across a new 'translation' of this very work and contemplated it with scorn.” it was an illuminated moment:

The little deaths were taking place behind the rose bushes. Pregnant mothers had climbed on top of the clowns. The cheated cradles wept over the sand. A devilish fraternity of voyeurs, growling like brass bands, had crouched down in an oily field. We buried the elderly upright in memory of their gloves.

Elsewhere in an urban scenography corroded by money and metaphors, Iain Sinclair was moved to recover three unpublished books of his great work Suicide Bridge, of which we present two at their full extent. The original scheme, of presenting the new adventures of all twelve of the Sons of Albion, emerges now in its full infamy. Was Blake writing like HP Lovecraft or was Lovecraft writing like Blake?
We have a long essay by Simon Jenner on John Goodby, an interview with Gavin Selerie and some poems to celebrate his selected poems (‘Music's Duel'). Also reviews of 'Certain Prose of the English Intelligencer', of 'Blake in Cambridge' by Out To Lunch, and of forgotten jazz poet's Pete Brown's memoirs. An editorial on naive poetry & naive art identifies the strand of primitivism and naive subjectivity in the 'modern' wing of poetry.
The reforgotten return in altered form, and the 40-year career of Paul Green can now emerge into the daylight via James Keerys rich synthesis of science, cabbala, and theology, in disengaging the precious minerals of Communicator. Is this Peterboroughs laconic counterpole to Alan Moores glyconic prevalence in Northampton?
Hardly less heroically, Angel Exhaust hurls itself into the Somerset-like flood plain of 7 anthologies of young poets, containing at least literally the call-sign of 194 names. A slow camera picking out basic features of a new landscape. What is the nature of the new era? Have another ten years of history surfaced from the silty waters like a gleaming causeway? Has the old guard met its Dien Bien Phu? Has anyone under 40 even heard of the Underground? Do we know whats going on? Surfs up, everybody!
Plus the usual forays into Gaelic folklore and Egyptology.

200 pages
Price £6. Orders to 165 Coppice Road, Nottingham, Notts NG5 7GX. cheques payable to Andrew Duncan, please.

Angel Exhaust 22

The false, heroic head he once lifted above more or less the same crowd as that to which Captain Fuller and the anarchist Aldred proclaimed the new aeon has become cumbersome, monstrous. In the dim stale light it resembles nothing so much as the skull of a horse, but is sealed, lacking all seven apertures.

At length he becomes too irked by my pursuit to ignore it further and makes as if to summon me, but no power resides in him now, and when he swivels to claw at my shirt, the effect is merely comic. So he turns and brushes his fingers against the hedge wall afresh, flustered.

AE is overwhelmed by the wealth of material in this issue. First, we print book V of ‘The Memory of the Drift’ in its entirety. Next, a David Chaloner memorial. By singular good fortune AE has been given access to the archive of his letters. We chose a time of dialogue with John Hall. David's poems take place in a 'permanent present' and these remarkable letters are meant to recover a 'deep present', the Now in which the poems were written. This feature presents a moment of time preserved like a crystal, a formative moment for poetry. It is 1969 and: & just abt to begin Jeremy Prynne's book The White Stones have you seen that at all What have you been doing since our last letter & where are your poems appearing I've not seen any for such a long time Did you see the last copy of collection &  the last resuscitator I thought you'd've been there

Then, we open the window on a new generation with an anthology of Ninerrors poems. This field is so new that it can't be described. The concept  is ‘Twin Peaks': two moments, one of around 1969 and one of 2010. There is a 'continuity of the unknown' and the course of brilliant innovation which David was embarking on resembles the course of the poets around Freaklung.

as the freedom of information act failed to demand a
   supposed ‘transparency of normal speech’, it turns upon
   us to decolonize rhetoric & the wider sphere of language,
   syllable-by-syllable. we are to start with ‘radical’, ‘fairness’,
   ‘social’ & it’s derivatives, ‘rhetoric’, ‘free’ & words used in
   justifying a notion;
there is now animal fat in the extinguishers; we have begun to
   bribe refuse collections;
we have deduced the frequencies of sound that enact violence
   on private property, we
are counting heads

Maybe the comparison allows us a sense of deep time, the experience at levels beneath consciousness of a ‘group identity’, always dissolving in time but sustained by the linguistic or symbolic net of shared poems.
The third strand is what magazines are signed up for, a display of new poems and some information.
Poems by: Colin Simms, Rhys Trimble, Paul Holman, John Powell Ward, Graham Hartill, David Barnett, Harry Godwin, Nat Raha, Alan Hay, RTA Parker, SJ Fowler, Linus Slug, Gareth Durasow, Stephen Emmerson, Owain Lee, James Harvey, Michael Zand.

When we subtract the certain and the possible, there is the new poetry. What will they think of the poetry of the recent past?

160 pp., cost £7.00 including postage. cheques payable to Andrew Duncan. at 165 Coppice Road, Nottingham, Notts NG5 7GX.

Angel Exhaust 20 ‘You just rang Anne Widecombe?’– out now

material whose polished
surface becomes you
its character and interpretation
an exact technology
of tribal celebration
nut-brown warp thread
gold and indigo weave

you speak a tongue made
fluent by its origin
sensitised to the composition
of tectonic plates
(David Chaloner, from Void Heaven)

Awesome new poetry by John Kinsella, Kelvin Corcoran, Jeff Hilson, DS Marriott, John Goodby,  David Chaloner, Jesse Glass, Rita Dahl, Jason Wilkinson, Michael Haslam, Charles Bainbridge, Chris Brownsword, Colin Simms, Out To Lunch, Carrie Etter. 144 pp.

PLUS the results of a survey where contemporary poets explain what’s wrong with the poetry scene. A fearless analytical exposé of the moral gutter where the sleaze flows night and day. We toss those bastards into the big wok of repentance. We rake the muck and rack the mopes. It’s twilight for the deep pigs.

Q So are you going to put an end to all this nonsense in poetry? To abstract ideas, subjectivity, experiment, modernity, complicated technique, radical politics, all those up in the air things which the ordinary housewife doesn’t understand?
A Essentially, no.

In an intense options auction conducted by satellite, Charles Bainbridge and Andrew Duncan won control of the “Charles Bainbridge” and “Andrew Duncan” contracts and so Angel Exhaust is still being run by the original editors applying the same artistic policy based on beauty and tranquillity. The only magazine which has used three five-year silences to improve the structure of the literary field. Buy Angel Exhaust and say goodbye to those sub-prime cultural investments.

Price: £7.00 including postage. Address: 165 Coppice Road, Nottingham, Notts NG5 7GX. Cheques payable to ‘Andrew Duncan’ please.

This issue is being published late as a tribute to Britney Spears. The missing years “are part of the magnitude of what I’ve become.”


*pronounce: devastate your Aunt Jeremy

available now

poetry by:

Joseph Macleod Adrian Clarke   Alison Croggon
Kevin Nolan            Peter Philpott   Peter Manson  
Chris Brownsword Paul Holman Jesse Glass 
Kelvin Corcoran Philip Jenkins Brian Hardie  
David Chaloner Wayne Clements John Muckle 
Giles Goodland Ralph Hawkins 
Colin Simms Harry Gilonis
Andrew Duncan   Marianne Morris   Elizabeth James

Editors: Charles Bainbridge  Andrew Duncan

Methan Beerlight, postmodern viral marketing consultant, talks to Manly Bannister, Angel Exhaust's Head of Ideology, about product conformance issues for AE 19.
Methan: So why is there no blurb?
Manly: We favour calm and serenity. Our contributors look on public image as like having a 13-year old version of yourself following you around talking egocentric nonsense. 
Methan: Why did the last issue take 6 years to produce?
Manly: We had trouble finding a cafe to meet in.
Methan: Why is it called Invest in your arch-enemy?
Manly: We believe the unity of the poetry world is more important than quarrels about fine points of verse regulation. If you can't kill your neighbours, you have to intermarry with them.
Methan: Did you call for the government to withdraw grants from magazines which published reviews not totally favourable to the poets you publish?
Manly: No, that was someone else.
Methan: Why is it called Devastate your Aunt Jeremy?
Manly: It was a misunderstanding between the two editors.
Methan: Could we just describe the individual poets?
Manly: Let me go as far as I can. Corcoran is like Corcoran. Glass is like Glass. Holman is like Holman. Holman is more like Holman than like Morris. Poets like Philpott and Nolan are too overwhelming and intricate to be described in a few words.
Methan: I've never heard of them.
Manly: Maybe you should read Angel Exhaust.

ANGEL EXHAUST 19 available for £7 from 165 Coppice Road, Nottingham, NG5 7GX 
Cheques payable to "Andrew Duncan", please

think these issues were 2005 to 2015 roughly
The magazine started in 1977 and was founded by Adrian Clarke and Steven Pereira. The title refers to a shop near The Angel, Islington, which sold exhaust pipes. The goal of the magazine is an England where there are more poetry bookshops than tattoo parlours.
Perimeter Thralls are the raised shelf around the edge of the cellar of the traditional Nottingham pub, for holding barrels.